Feature Coverage

Drink Me: Napa Valley Awards

“Exciting news – At Drink Me magazine, we are launching the inaugural ‘Drink Me Awards Program’ honoring outstanding members of Napa community, who show excellence in several categories.

“I have been visiting Napa Valley for 20 years, and have been blessed with many wonderful wine experiences. I’ve visited the bulk of the region’s wineries and the vast majority of my wine impressions have been very positive. In fact, it often left me wondering whether any of the Napa wineries make mediocre wine.

“Theoretically, that has to be true; yet most of what I tasted showed varied degrees of good, with an occasional epiphany thrown in. Napa’s high level of quality poses its own dilemma – it’s both easy and challenging to choose favorites.

“We have often written about the Napa’s excellent wine – a favorite subject. This time, we decided to explore notable categories that are closely tied, yet distinctly different from the wine side of things.  These awards are about hospitality, ambiance, commitment to sustainable farming, wine education and the best value for your tasting money.  These wineries represent some of the best bets in their respective category and are worthy contenders for your time.

“The criteria were simple, the mission complex – nail down the best of the best in a region known for its hospitality. Wineries is other regions look up to Napa – it’s above the competition. The wineries on this list below demonstrate why that’s the case. …

Best Wine Tasting Experience Value

“… Stepping into Schramsberg grounds is akin to stepping back in time. This enchanting estate is tucked into the densely wooded hills of Diamond Mountain, just south of the sleepy town of Calistoga. It is home to the oldest hillside vineyards in Napa vine.

“Jack and Jamie Davies acquired the property in 1965, the same year their youngest son Hugh was born, and embarked on an ambitious journey of restoring it and producing wine. Credited with the first use of Chardonnay in sparkling wine in the U.S, the brand grew exponentially, and is now known worldwide as one of top sparkling wine producers in the U.S.

“In late 1800s, Chinese laborers painstakingly built thousands of sq. feet of caves by hand, with additional tunnels added in the 1980s, using more modern methods. The walls still bare pick marks, pointing to its history. Now totaling 34,000 sq. feet, they house up to 2.7 million bottles aging there from two to ten years prior to release.

“The estate is a registered historic landmark that has been beautifully restored by the Davies family. Victorian structures, winery, caves and barn are virtually unchanged since the original owner, Jacob Schram’s days.

“Schramsberg’s sparkling wines made their own history, their Blanc de Blanc has been served at official State functions by every U.S. President since Nixon.

“In 2005 Hugh Davis took over the winery as president, passing the winemaking reigns to two winemakers, Keith Hock and Sean Thompson. Keith is responsible for the sparkling program. His background includes working at Rudd Estate and Saintsbury. Still wines are made by Sean Thompson, who worked at Rutherford Hill and Staglin. The J. Davies brand produces outstanding Diamond Mountain District and Estate Cabernet Sauvignons as well as Pinot Noir from cool climate vineyard sites.

“Schramsberg sources fruit from dozens of vineyards across Anderson Valley, Carneros, Marin and Sonoma Coasts, that contribute to over 200 small lot wines. The cave tour and the tasting are phenomenal. You will learn all about the sparkling wine production, including the painstaking, labor-intensive task performed by master riddler, who turns bottles at a rate of 50,000 turns per day! You will taste a Blanc de Blancs, a Blanc de Noirs, a venerable J. Schram, a still Pinot Noir and a very exciting Reserve Cabernet. Considering that two of the wines in the lineup retail for $125 per bottle, a tasting and tour fee of $60 seems like a huge bargain.”

Ilona Thompson, February 18, 2016
Drink Me: Napa Valley Awards