Not sure if any of you have figured this out, but I LOVE NAPA! I have had a mad love affair with the valley since my first day of employment with Robert Mondavi (a long time ago). Mike and Rhema drove me to John Wayne Airport, I gave Rhema a big hug, Mike gave me a high five and said, “you’re doing this!” It was my first day and I was in Napa! I was overwhelmed with gratitude and delighted beyond measure to experience this gracious industry in such a beautiful setting and working for such an icon.
Since then I have been fortunate enough to work with some of Napa’s most amazing vintners. I have walked the vineyards with my favorite artisans and have blessed the grapes with my heroes. I have had the pleasure of drinking some of the most iconic Napa wines. Yes, high scoring, highly collectable and high price points. That has certainly brought me a lot of joy, but I truly get more joy from finding a great value from small family owned producers. I get greater joy from introducing those wines to you.
Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, Rutherford 2021
In the late 1800’s, this majestic property thrived with vineyards, apple orchards, olive groves, hay and a dairy until farming fell dormant during Prohibition. In 1989 the Hall family carefully breathed life back into the land, replanting the vineyards and apple orchards and reviving the olive groves. The Estate is home to a rugged 650-acre landscape nestled in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains which gives way to a long, sweeping meadow, thus the name Long Meadow Ranch was born.
The Hall Family and all they embody is what makes us proud of what we do and the wines we have on our shelves. Their environmental practices and contributions to agriculture go beyond measure from the earth to the table. Their certified organic wine, produce, oil and cattle make their way to the family’s farm to table restaurant in St. Helena called Farmstead. We recently met a group of Colony Friends in Napa and enjoyed this refreshing Sauvignon Blanc with oysters, steak tartare and spring pea risotto at Farmstead. It was delightful!
Pair with fresh oysters, spring pea risotto and lots of smiles.
Founders – Ted and Laddie Hall Winemaker – Justin Carr
Retail - $24
Spring Pea Risotto
1 ½ tbl sp good olive oil 2/3 cup dry white wine (LMR Sauv Blanc)
1 ½ tbl sp unsalted butter 4 to 5 cups chicken stock (simmering)
3 cups chopped leeks (2 whole leeks) 1½ cups fresh peas shelled and blanched
1 cup chopped fennel zest of 2 lemons plus juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ cups Arborio rice kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
½ cup grated parmesan cheese 1/3 cup mascarpone
Heat oil and butter over medium heat in saucepan, add leeks and fennel and sauté for 5 to 7 mins. Add rice and stir for 1 minute. Add wine and simmer stirring constantly until wine is absorbed. Add stock 2 ladles at a time stirring constantly until absorbed, after 15 minutes add peas, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and lemon zest. Continue adding stock and stirring until absorbed and rice is tender but still firm (about another 10 minutes). Stir in mascarpone, parmesan and lemon juice. Top with your choice of goodies, parmesan, chives, basil, mint. Enjoy!
Ca’ Momi Rosso, Napa Valley 2019
Three Italian friends and partners made their way to Napa Valley in the late 90’s bringing with them their love of wine and food. Their passion to pursue the American dream led them to purchase a piece of property and plans were made to build a winery a few years later. By 2006 they released their first vintage and by 2010 they celebrated their love of family, friends and good food by opening Ca’ Momi Enoteca in downtown Napa. This is where I first fell in love with their wines and the best pizza in Napa.
A few months back during my walkabout in Napa I stopped by their restaurant to pick up a pizza and other goodies. I could not help myself since simple things like pizza and a cheap bottle of wine bring me such joy. It was pure joy. I wanted to take our group their last week and learned they had closed due to all the struggles during the lockdowns and then the staff shortages as of recent. Well now I want to support them even more. I love this little wine and the partners’ philosophy. “Seek purpose and joy in all that you do and inspire others to do the same. Show intellectual curiosity and a desire to learn and grow.”
This fun blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot and Petit Sirah is perfect with pizza, bbq and a chill time with your besties.
Founders – Stefano Migotto, Valentina Guolo, Dario De Conti Winemaker – Dario De Conti
Retail - $18
Hall Winery Merlot, Napa Valley 2018
You may have gotten the idea by now that I really appreciate Kathryn Hall’s (no relation to the Halls of Long Meadow Ranch) contribution to the wine industry and to those in need. She is an incredible vintner and philanthropist. We have featured her Walt Pinot Noir and BACA Zinfandel and now her namesake Merlot. Kathryn learned her work ethic from her parents who were dedicated grape growers and managed their vineyards for a few years before becoming assistant city attorney for Berkeley, California. She then made her way to Texas and co-founded North Texas Food Bank, served on the U.S. House of Representatives Hunger Advisory Committee, was the vice president of Texas Mental Health Association and served on the National Advisory Counsel for Violence Against Women. Before returning to her life as a vintner, Kathryn also served as United States Ambassador to Austria. Kind of a badass.
Pair this with an In-N-Out Double Double and your favorite badass.
Founders – Kathryn and Craig Hall Winemaker – Megan Gunderson
Experience Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2019
“Finding joy in the journey” is the first thing you see on this winery’s website. Catherine and Travis Vale had a chance meeting on a tour bus called “Experience” while she was traveling in New Zealand and he was interning at a winery. They fell in love, married a few years later and made their way to the Napa Valley where they are raising 3 beautiful daughters and running their winery. The family’s core belief is to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination.
The family sources fruit from some pretty stellar regions in Napa: Oak Knoll, Diamond Mountain, Oakville and Howell Mountain. I love the fact that this fruit is in the bottle, yet it is such a great value. You do not have to wait for a special occasion to open this wine. You can drink this lovely Cabernet while on the journey and do not have to wait for the destination.
Drink this wine on a Tuesday night while pondering this next thing on your journey that will bring you joy.
Founder – Catherine & Travis Vale Winemaker – Travis Vale