Written by: Dave Madera, Director of Operations
Last month, Rococo’s General Manager Kevin and myself spent a few days traveling the Napa Valley meeting with winemakers and tasting their wines. This was my seventh trip out to Napa and Kevin’s first. When I looked over and saw Kevin’s face in amazement as we drove past each winery, it reminded me of my first trip. Beyond our obvious passion for wine, no words can truly express the beauty and vast scenery when you’re out there.
The next day, our first winery was none other than Philip Togni Vineyard. We drove our little Nissan Solaris 2,000 feet up Spring Mountain to a small locked gate with no sign, just an old piece of wood with the address on it. The wines were jaw dropping.
After, we were off to a private lunch with Michael Honig, the President of Honig Vineyard and Winery. I’ve known Michael for almost 15 years now and have always been a fan of his wines. The fact that we got to sit down with a winery owner and actually talk like friends and not clients, is always an amazing treat.
As we continued our journey for the day, we got to meet and taste with Luc Morlet, who in my opinion, is one of the best winemakers in California! Luc shared amazing stories with us which included the way he first got his start in the winemaking business, to where he is now. The wines we were able to taste and experience were unbelievable and unlike any I have tasted before. Sometimes words can’t describe how good something is and well, when it comes to Morlet wines, that is exactly the case.
Our final stop of the day was with Rich, the owner of Canard Wines. Hearing the stories of when he purchased the vineyards in 1982 and how he received a personal phone call from Robert Mondavi, really just blew our minds. Oh yeah, he also invited us into his private cellar to taste whatever we wanted and let’s just say, sometimes our jobs have perks!
Tuesday started with a 9am tasting at Staglin. Though drinking wine at 9 am is not the most common, we were able to receive a more personal and hands-on experience learning the incredible history and community impact this vineyard has been a part of. They have raised over 400 million for mental health research and are continuing to grow this number every day.
Next stop was Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma, one of the areas most respected producers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. What else is there to say besides we got to taste exactly why they deserve the respect and reputation they have obtained.
We ended the day in Diamond Mountain’s Checkerboard Vineyards. This place was so immaculate, you could eat off the floors. Kevin and I both agreed that these were our favorite wines of the trip. These wines are very expensive and extremely hard to get. All of them tasted like a silky mocha covered rose petal and could only be described in one word. Sexy.
Our last day of the trip started out at Wheeler Farms Winery tasting Tor. Getting a tour around the facility and seeing wine making equipment that costs as much as a Bentley – yeah that’s right – it shows how every dollar that is made from their wine goes directly back into the winery.
We then went down to Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards. Tasting nine wines in a cave and hearing the stories on how Todd Anderson was one of the pioneers of the Napa Valley in the 80’s was truly humbling. It also doesn’t hurt when they open a $1000 bottle of Ghost Horse for us to taste. I am excited to announce that this wine will be coming to Rococo very soon!
Last stop was with 2012 winemaker of the year Aaron Pott. I truly felt like this guy was one of us. He was dressed like he was going skateboarding and gave us a tour of his vineyards. After, we sat in his house on top of Mt. Veeder and tasted some of his best wines. Some of which he only makes 25 cases of. It felt like three friends hanging out, tasting amazing wines and talking about life.
Even though this was my seventh trip to wine country, it is my favorite so far. From the wines to the company to the scenery, nothing compares.
Keep an eye out for our Somm Selection sheet at Rococo as we will be featuring some special pricing on some of the wineries we visited.