Chimney Rock Winery , founded in 1980, is set back from the Silverado Trail on the eastern side in the south part of the famed Stags Leap District. This used to be a golf course; there are probably still a few golf balls somewhere in the vineyards. If you are a golfer, don’t worry there are other golf courses to the south of here! You can’t miss seeing the building as you drive by as it is spectacularly stark white and the architecture is somewhat Dutch inspired. The original owners were from South Africa and they sold a few years ago to the current owners, the Terlato family from Chicago. Today 1195 acres of vineyards surround the winery and are planted entirely to red varietals. You are in the Stag’s Leap district – you won’t find many white varietals in this appellation!
As you drive in on the long driveway there are excellent views of the surrounding hills and main winery building. Walk in customers can generally choose from several tastings including their “New Release Flight”, an “Overview Flight” and the much coveted “Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Flight”. The reserve flight often includes Cabernet Sauvignon’s up to 8 years old and is a rare opportunity at a walk in Napa winery to enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon vertical from older vintages. The fruit for their reserve wines are typically sourced from similar blocks in the vineyard each year – the “sweet spots” if you will. What is always neat is to see how dramatically different the wines are from each other in aromas and flavor. In part differences in vintage (weather) and time of aging play roles in this.
We tried a vertical of 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon through the 2003 vintage. A couple of the older vintages were oh so close to being sold out including the delicious 2001. This wine has very ripe fruit aromas which turn into notes of mocha and chocolate as it opens up. The palate follows with blackberry, cranberry and smooth refined tannins anchor the finish. Yes, there are reasons why you let wine age and Chimney Rock’s older vintages show off very nicely! Other notes about these reserve Cabernet Sauvignons is they are very well balanced and all will have excellent ageability.If you want to wet your whistle with something lighter, Chimney Rock does make several lighter styled wines including the very popular proprietary blend called Elevage Blanc (a proprietary blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris featured in the Sex and the City Movie) a Fume Blanc & a Rose but you really come here for one thing and one thing only – that is their Cabernet Sauvignon.
All fruit for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve and special Elevage blend come from from the vineyards that surround the winery. Note that sometimes the tasting room can fill up rather quickly as winery tours and buses will often stop here. We’ve been here several times and have always noticed the staff is quite adept at handling multiple parties. Several more in depth tastings and tours are offered by reservation including a hefty vertical flight tasting of their reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (five vintages) and a tour of their vineyards and cellar. Also ask about their romantic barrel room dining option. Larger bottles up to 6 Liters also sold on site.
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