Iconic Wines from Napa Valley
By Faith Bennett Published November 2020
Napa Valley is home to some of the most iconic wineries in North America. Tucked in Northern California and surrounded by two mountain ranges, the Vaca Range and the Mayacamas Mountains, Napa Valley’s terrain and climate allows vintners to cultivate spectacular wines desired by many.
This small valley is dotted with vineyards. You can spend days exploring, tasting and admiring the beauty that the wine country beholds. Since traveling can be a bit tricky these days, trade your ticket to wine country for a few of these iconic Napa Valley vinos found at your local ABC for same-day delivery from our store to your door.
Napa Valley is known for producing award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, and Buehler Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception. This rich and full-bodied red wine scored 91-points from James Suckling for the 2017 vintage. They blended grapes from their own estate hillside vineyard with those from high-quality, low-yielding Napa Valley vineyards located at the base of the valley, to comprise a wine with a spectrum of flavors and aromas. James Suckling describes it best, “This has blackberry-compote and cherry aromas with violets, too. The palate is a smooth, fresh and elegantly framed collection of ripe dark berries that is very approachable.” Buehler Vineyards is, "a fourth-generation vineyard and winery perched on a mountaintop just five country miles east of St. Helena.” Their family has been farming Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel for decades and they, “attempt to combine meticulous vineyard management and minimal winemaking techniques to create wines of uncommon complexity and depth and to present these wines to our consumers at fair and reasonable prices.”
Are we a snitch if we let you in on a little secret? You can’t go wrong with any wine from The Prisoner Wine Company. The dark and mysterious labels are almost as interesting as the liquid inside the bottles. Their winemaking team works to source grapes from premier vineyards throughout California to develop a diverse and unique blend of distinct quality. The Prisoner Wine Company explains, “When creating our wines, we always look for fresh approaches to traditional varietals.” And the same goes for The Snitch as they, “combined Chardonnay from exceptional vineyards in warm Stags Leap and cool climate Carneros with just a touch of Viognier. The result is bright and rich with an unexpected something special.” This wine is a blend of 97% Chardonnay and 3% Viognier with notes of apple, pear and crème brûlée.
Dennis and Judy Groth invested in a vineyard on Oakville Cross Road, at the core of Napa Valley, with aspirations of cultivating a top-class Cabernet Sauvignon in the early 1980s. Their dream quickly turned to reality. Today, Groth Vineyards & Winery continues to be a family-owned company rooted in the Oakville AVA where it produces award winning wines such as their Groth Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2016 vintage was awarded 92-points by Wine Spectator and James Suckling. Cameron Parry, Director of Winegrowing at Groth, explains this wine best, “The alluring dense, dark plum color of the 2016 Oakville Cabernet is the first indication of the rich extraction in this wine. Sweet aromas of blackberry tart, ripe plums and marzipan are complemented with a savory hint of toasted coriander seed.” He goes on to say, “The finish is layered with baking spices, wild blackberries, and a hint of dried black currant. This wine is enjoyably exuberant now but has the fruit and structure to last another 15+ years should you desire.” If white wine is more your style, go for Groth Chardonnay, balanced by subtle oak sweetness and crisp acidity.
You can’t talk about Napa Valley without the mention of Schramsberg. Jack and Jamie Davies established Schramsberg Vineyards in 1965, on a property previously founded in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram. They set out to make world-class sparkling wines in the traditional champenoise style and became the first winery in California to provide Blanc de Blancs, and America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg Vineyards blend Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from a variety of cool-climate vineyard sources. Their iconic Blanc de Blancs, meaning “white of whites” in French, is made entirely from Chardonnay. It is dry and crisp with, “bright aromas of Meyer lemon, golden apple, Bosc pear, marzipan and vanilla cookie, which intermingle with hints of warm pastry and cinnamon,” says Winemakers Sean Thompson and Hugh Davies. Looking to make it a trio? Add a bottle of Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut and Schramsberg Brut Rosé.
Silverado Vineyards Winery is located in the hills of the northwest side of the Stags Leap District. The earth this vineyard resides on is steep and shale and receives western exposures to late afternoon sun which produces fruit full of character and structure. The Miller family has produced a range of wonderful varietals, including their iconic Cabernet Sauvignons. The Silverado SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon is estate grown and “made from their own Silverado clone, designated a Heritage clone in 1999 by UC Davis,” says Jane Anson, reviewing the 2002 inaugural vintage in Decanter 2019. Although the price might be on the high-end, we can assure you, it’s worth it. On the nose, expect aromas of dark fruit with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and intense fruit, toasty oak and spice flavors that lead to a long, velvety finish and mild tannins. Shop Silverado’s collection, including their GEO Cabernet Sauvignon, from Coombsville, Napa’s newest AVA, here.
Stags’ Leap Winery is built upon a 240-acre property with 90 acres of vineyards on the outskirts of Napa Valley, near Stags Leap Palisades. This region is a part of the Vaca Range that runs along the eastern side of the valley. Stags’ Leap is one of California’s earliest estates and continues to use their unique terroir and ideal microclimate to uphold classic winemaking standards to create wines that stand the test of time. Their goal, “is to convey the essence of this world-class terroir from the grape to the glass, to create handcrafted wines that tell an authentic story of the land on which they are grown.” Stags’ Leap Chardonnay expresses just that, sourcing grapes from the cool southern appellations for a wine that provides citrus, mineral and crisp apple notes representing the land from which the fruit was plucked. Pour a glass and allow the fragrant citrus blossom to open with delicate notes of Meyer lemon, fresh white peach and floral honeysuckle, and vanilla and caramel oak notes on the finish.
Auros is inspired by the Latin word for gold. Across its label you’ll find a weaved line of gold representing the golden blooms of Napa Valley, and Auros’ nod to ancient Spanish missionaries who traced their journey with mustard seed across the valley. They take pride in creating a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with a “nuanced integration of over 15 different soil types across Napa Valley’s diverse sub-appellations, each contributing distinct characteristics to create a multidimensional blend.” Their unique and concentrated vino has aromas of dark berries like blackberry and dried blueberry. It has a rich, full-bodied palate that reveals notes of coffee, tobacco, vanilla bean and dried fig with a velvety finish.
“The extraordinary quality of this wine originates in Napa Valley’s generous terroir. When I taste this wine, I am reminded why Cabernet Sauvignon is the variety on which Robert Mondavi built his reputation,” says Geneviève Janssens, Chief Winemaker. Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is comprised of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec. The grapes are sourced from select sites from Stags Leap District to St. Helena for a blend that is a true reflection of Napa Valley. Robert Mondavi hand-harvests the grapes in the morning, ferments them in French oak and allows 24 days of maceration to maximize the color and flavors for a lush, rounded mouthfeel. The liquid is then transferred to barrels and aged for 16 months until ready to bottle. Expect a nose of ripe blackberry and black plum jam with notes of dried thyme and toast. On the palate, it is brimming with black fruit and touches of chocolate, mint and straw.