Buehler Vineyards is the only other winery besides Amizetta Vineyards in this part of the long and windy road, almost 6 miles from the Napa Valley floor. Encompassing 300 acres of land, it was purchased in 1971 by John & Helen Buehler. Their first production was in 1978 making this among the older wineries in the Napa Valley area. John was a West Point graduate and then spent many years as an executive at Bechtel Corporation and this winery was how he was going to spend his retirement! His first commercial release was in 1978 when he crushed by hand enough grapes to produce 700 cases.
Production increased over the next few years and then in 1982 he hired a young winemaker who no one outside of the local Napa wine industry had heard of – Heidi Barrett. That of course soon changed and she helped put Buehler on the Napa wine map so to speak. They have several vineyards on site – one planted to Cabernet Sauvignon with over 30 year old vines, a Zinfandel section and then their Chardonnay is sourced from the Russian River area of neighboring Sonoma County (same source since 1995). Today his son John runs the winery and his grandson John and other family members are very actively involved. Many of their employees have been with the winery a long time.
Buehler is somewhat of an anomaly in Napa due to its isolation and very reasonable pricing on their wines. Typically those two facets do not go hand in hand as we have found that normally in Napa, the more isolated the winery the more costly the wines! Think about all the cult wineries and high end producers located in the hills above the valley floor – these are numerous. Allow yourself at least 20 minutes to reach the winery from when you leave the Valley floor and the Silverado Trail. Look for the old ghost winery on their property at the entrance to their driveway. It hasn’t been restored to an active winery; its main use is for housing animals. When you see their gate and small narrow road you wouldn’t think a winery of this size would be located here – but the winery and buildings are actually quite large.
When we passed through their gate and arrived at the actual winery we were met by John who showed us around for an hour – your tour and tasting will usually be conducted by a family member. John has a good sense of humor and loves to show people around the winery. A porn star who has her own wine label was on his last tour before we arrived, and as a result we heard some good stories about this. A tour is given upon request or you can elect to just do a tasting. Due to their reasonable pricing and long history some of their wines are quick to sell out. They make a White Zinfandel (actually quite rare to find this in the Napa Valley even though Sutter Home originally produced this wine), a very nice Reserve Chardonnay and their signature wines, the Napa Valley Cabernet and Estate Cabernet – both very reasonably priced. A tasting and tour is a relaxed and informative experience. Visit: www.buehlervineyards.com