Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Parador Cellars: A Review

During our Napa trip, and I guess on any trip, there is always the hope that I will discover something that not everyone else has discovered. Of course, with all of the wineries and commercialism in Napa and Sonoma, that is nearly impossible to do.

Chris and I along with my sister Pennie and her husband Scott; however, did find that unique memory of the trip in the form of a very small winery called Parador Cellars. How it happened is almost as much of a story and the pure enjoyment we got from "discovering" something that not everyone finds.

Parador is run by the winemaker--Steve and his wife. Steve is solely responsible for the quality of the wines and the blends. And, I believe he hit it perfectly in the wines he makes. A visit to the Cellars, is a visit to their home in Napa--and a phone call for an appointment.

We were introduced to Parador Cellars at Zu Zu, a tapas restaurant in Napa where we found the Parador Red Wine, a Cabernet-Tempranillo blend on the wine list and tried it. It is fabulous. As is the Tempranillo that Parador produces.

We were treated to a personal tasting at the house and were able to taste an assortment of the wines. I was able to taste the 1999 Reserva which was a Cabernet-Tempranillo-Sangiovese blend as well as the 2004 and 2005 red which was the Cabernet-Tempranillo blend and complimented the 2003 red we enjoyed at the restaurant. We also sampled the 2005 Tempranillo and the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon which were used to create the red.

I highly recommend these wines and the experience of meeting the winemaker, Steve and his wife, to discuss the wines and get to know them was fantastic and was truly a highlight of the week in Napa.

The find of the week! Fine wines and a great winemaker.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sterling Winery: A Review

The first winery we visited, right out of the barrel was Sterling.

Sterling is located in Calistoga, near the north end of Napa Valley.

Although I had read mixed reviews about this winery, we still wanted to visit it because it is just plain neat--with the cable car ride up the hillside to the winery.

We upgraded to the reserve tasting, so the admission was $30 per person. That is pretty standard around here for tours and tastings. The basic tour and tasting was $25--so we really only had a minor upgrade.

The gondola ride was beautiful and provided a nice way to see the valley in the morning sunlight. It was a beautiful way.

The tour is self-guided--but the positioning of tasting stations along the tour route was really nice and creative. The winery is beautiful. The tour is great and fun to wander around the various stations. Although the tour is not informative about the history of the winery.

Here is the real thing: the wines are not that good! They are so-so wines. Fun to taste, but even though it was our first winery, we knew that these were not the great wines of Napa County. They are OK--and over priced OK. There are much better wines out there.

But the winery is fun and is a must visit kind of place.

Recommendation: Visit this winery. The gondola ride is fun and the construct of the tour is unique. The winery is beautiful and definitely with the visit. Use the wine tastings as a baseline for other wineries.