Baldacci Family Vineyards is located in a beautiful part of the Napa Valley just off of the Silverado Trail (west side) slightly south of the Yountville Cross Road. The property was purchased by Thomas (Tom) & Brenda Baldacci in 1998; it caught their eye for several reasons: an unfinished house at the time on top of one of the coveted few knolls rising from the valley floor, the views from the site and an already an existing separate turn lane on Silverado Trail (turn lanes are not cheap to put in, the bill for these is typically charged to new wineries).
The property is in the Stags Leap District, one of the Napa Valleys most highly regarded Cabernet Sauvignon producing sub appellations – fortunately Tom decided to build the winery rather than selling the property. Perhaps his family heritage had something to do with his decision, being the grandson of Italian immigrants, who made their own wine. After they purchased the property, they replanted grapes and then sold the fruit for two years before making their own wine. Their first vintage was in 2000, released in 2003.
Tom’s father, Paul Baldacci founded Castle Construction Company in 1966 – over the years this family owned business has built thousands of homes, primarily within the San Francisco Bay Area. Since their founding, they have diversified their construction services to also include commercial spaces, office, and warehouse facilities and have renovated a number of shopping centers.
Today the company is known as Castle Companies Inc, based in San Ramon, which also oversees Castle Management, a property management company. Tom is still the principal owner of the company – he used to be president of Castle Companies, Inc.
Since their original purchase of what is now called Brenda’s Vineyard in the Stags Leap District, they acquired additional vineyard land in the Napa Valley including their Honey B Vineyard in the Carneros region (near Etude Winery) where they grow Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Gewurztraminer, the Stella Knight Vineyard just south of Calistoga (near Diamond Mountain Road on the valley floor) where they grow Cabernet Sauvignon and a smaller vineyard block immediately south of their winery location.
The second generation has become involved in the family business – son Michael has been winemaker since 2017 (although he began working with the winemaking team earlier).
A tasting is relaxed and is held in a small house or weather permitting, is conducted outside on their patio. A glorious warm spring day with nearby vineyards full of golden mustard is a perfect time to visit this winery. Ask for a tour if they have enough staff in the tasting room – this is one of the highlights of visiting Baldacci. Your host will accompany you into the cave.
Several thousand square feet of wine caves were built into the hillside (next to the winery). Parts of the caves were drilled through almost solid rock and as a result the cave construction took significantly longer than originally anticipated. A visit here is a very personalized experience especially during the tour – and the staff is quite knowledgeable as evidenced during our first visit when we peppered the wine guide with a plethora of questions above and beyond what most tourists will ask (barrel aging, toasts, coopers, French/American oak, etc).
It is always neat to see how a “vintage” shapes a wine and can create such a completely different wine from year to year. Such is the case with the 2006 and 2005 Baldacci Family Vineyards Elizabeth Pinot Noirs from the Carneros region.
The 2006 Baldacci Elizabeth Pinot Noir is lighter in color and body. It is a pleasing wine easily consumed with pretty floral and lavender aromas on the bouquet with just a hint of earthiness. The fruit is truly the backbone of this wine, strawberries and raspberry with mild tannins and a light finish.
The 2005 Baldacci Elizabeth Pinot Noir on the other hand is much darker and the backbone of this wine are the spices both in aroma and on the palate. In addition, this is a very earthy wine with notes of black pepper and other darker spices among the strawberry and raspberry flavors.
The 2017 Baldacci Family Vineyards Chardonnay (Sorelle) was sourced from their Honey B Vineyard on the Napa side of the Carneros District. After harvest these grapes were whole cluster pressed and then fermented in French oak barrels (30% new) using indigenous yeasts. The wine went through full malolactic fermentation and was then aged for 9 months sur lie (stirred once a week). One notices the color immediately on this wine – its darker yellow then many Napa grown current-release Chardonnays. The bouquet shows aromas of honeycomb (smells like when we use to pull out the frames from our hives up in Calistoga), ripe yellow pineapple, hints of caramel and honeysuckle blossoms. Big but balanced, the palate shows richness of flavor combined with a slightly creamy mouth feel. Rounded on the finish – lingers with flavors of vanilla, hints of butter and some dessert spices. This is a rich expression of this varietal – a wine well worth seeking out.
Each Baldacci crafted wine is named after a family member or in tribute to family. This wine is a dedication to Tom’s sisters (sorelle in Italian means sisters) – from the back label, “Beauty, strength and confidence are words to describe my sisters, Lisa, Loretta and Marilyn. This wine is created to share my love for these wonderful women.”
Another beautiful Baldacci produced white wine is their Carneros grown Gewürztraminer. The 2016 Baldacci Gewürztraminer is rich in aromatics and flavor yet nicely balanced on the palate.
The Stags Leap District is one of Napa’s most well-known regions for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Baldacci’s estate wine from this variety not disappoint. The 2005 Baldacci Family Vineyards IV Sons is named in honor of Tom’s four boys. This is a wine that will age very well – if you can’t wait 5-7 years and you drink it early consider pairing this with food – especially something tomato based which will cut through the tannins and help smooth out the wine.
The 2005 Baldacci Family Vineyards Allwin Syrah is named after Tom’s grandmother. The grapes for this wine come from the Coombsville area just east of the town of Napa which is a cooler growing region than on site. This is a very aromatic wine with vanilla, cherry and a hint of mocha on the nose leading to a full body with notes of blackberry and pomegranate. During a later visit, we tried the 2014 vintage. This wine still continues to over deliver for the price point.
Additional wines are made in extremely small quantities and are typically available only at the winery or through the wine club, “Baldacci Family Reunion”. Baldacci Family Vineyards currently produces about 9,000 cases a year. They were one of the early clients in Total Wine & More – back when they operated something like only 12 stores. Today this retailer operates more then 150 stores around select parts of the country and Baldacci’s wines are still selectively carried in store.
NOTE: this review has been identified as needing a **major** update; we can’t wait until all the construction is completed! We will revisit once their new hospitality center is open. Their original hospitality center is no longer open for tastings. However, retail sales are still available during their normal business hours and tastings have been moved to a temporary building on site.
Construction continues on a new hospitality and visitor’s center – with the hospitality center and construction to be completed possibly by early June 2021 and updates to their winery facility to also be completed sometime later in 2021. Prior to their new hospitality center opening – a temporary tasting room opened in August 2017 (in conjunction with their new driveway).
Also interesting to note is the prominent old red barn just south of their cave and hospitality center – stood in as a fake winery in a scene from the 2019 movie, Wine Country.
For more information or to join their wine club, visit: www.baldaccivineyards.com