750 Wines (a smartly titled name that is inspired by the normal wine bottle size – 750ml) is the newest venture by Napa veteran David Stephens. He and his wife Monica run this appointment only unmarked wine shop in St. Helena. A typical visit here is by referral or with someone who knows the location. David first started working in the valley at the esteemed Tra Vigne Restaurant (was their Director of Wine Programs from 1997 to 2002) and then in 2003 founded a fine wine shop which he helped take from a small cramped location to a much larger location several years ago. He turned that wine shop into one of the finest wine shops in the Napa Valley both in their selection of wines and customer service.
We caught up with David and Monica at their new location just west of Main Street. These digs are spacious, elegant and simply decorated with the focus being on the visitor and the personalized private tasting experience. Visits to 750 Wines are for serious wine enthusiasts and collectors. David has formed close relationships with many well-regarded vintners in the valley and as a result has a collection of wine that would be hard to find elsewhere. As he says, he wants this wine shop to be “off the beaten path but accessible”. It certainly is that, as its hidden near a number of businesses but is merely a block from main street St. Helena. In addition, with the start of the new business he wants the focus to be more on the relationships with the winemakers he works with as well as the consumers.
Several wine shelves line the concrete walls. You know you are not in a run of the mill wine salon when names such as Araujo, Grace Family, Lail, Robert Foley and others peer out from among these shelves. These are not just wines that appear with no story behind them – David knows the owners and the winemakers of these wineries. He has stories to tell, if you merely ask.
When you visit you taste based on the types of wines you enjoy and you can be assured you are trying wines from producers with extremely limited productions. Because of his long term relationships, at times David has been able to secure wines that you cannot find at any other retail locations. Despite being open only a week at the time of our visit they had already held a number of tastings. Such is David’s reputation in the valley for quality and a personal touch, that when he opens a new shop, its not really like opening a new shop. He’s just moving locations and the winemakers he works with and his customers follow.
While having a selection of wines from premium proven boutique producers, David always keeps a sharp eye open for the newest mostly Napa producers to hit the market. If you are looking for new premium Napa brands (current releases), 750 Wines is a good place to begin your search. 750 Wines maintains four wine shipment offerings for a variety of tastes including their WOW Factor – a monthly shipment of 2 of their favorite wines sure to elicit a “wow” upon drinking.
David produced and distributed his own label for several years called Shelter. Shelter was sourced from a number of notable vineyards in the Napa Valley and was found at several premium restaurants in the valley including the French Laundry in Yountville.
Winemaking sometimes goes hand in hand with being a musician. Along with keeping track of all the latest producers and vintners in the valley David also plays bass guitar in a local Rock & Roll band called Wristrocket. As expected, all of the band members are involved in the wine industry in some capacity and two of the other members also run their own Napa wineries (Robert Foley and Jeff Smith – Hourglass). We look forward to hearing their music at some point!
Looking for a high end personalized wine tour in the Napa Valley – look no further than Monica’s premium concierge company, All Access Napa Valley (www.allaccessnapavalley.com).
Tastings are always private and the shop is closed for other appointments while you are inside. They do offer a “splash and dash” tasting when available. These are usually 30 minute tastings that are meant for more last minute reservations – with a quick taste through select wines that happen to be open during the time of your visit.
Winemakers take note – 750 Wines maintains a smaller more private room which can be rented exclusively for very personalized tastings. Their main room can also be rented out for small events and they hold small wine release events from time to time. Inquire for more details. They are open 6 days a week by appointment only and can be open Sundays depending on schedules and client interests. For more information visit: www.750wines.com
NOTE: this review has been identified as needing a major update.