Falcor Wines released their first vintage in 1999 which at the time was a highly rated award winning Chardonnay – earning 93 points in the Wine Spectator. The first red wine produced was under the label Le Bijou (French for the jewel). In the early years they made their wine at Napa Wine Co but later opened a 12,000 square foot winery and tasting room in a corporate park just south of the town of Napa. This is one of many Napa wineries are located in industrial or business parks in and around the city of Napa – rather then being up valley.
And while they are in a business park if one looks east, one can clearly see vineyards from their front door. Oh and some of the landscaping vegetation in their parking lot are rows of grapevines. When you enter the winery, note the bird house hanging on the cork tree. One of their early wine club members made this house out of corks and is now home to nesting birds at certain times of the year.
Falcor was founded by two trial attorneys (Mike Bee, and Jim Peterson) from West Virginia who work for the same firm. Laurie Rich is a third partner. All are extremely passionate about wine. Mike and Jim would often serve depositions for their legal firm in the San Francisco area and as a result during these trips would visit the Napa Valley. After being inspired during several local tours and tastings they decided to partner and form a winery. Through connections they found well known winemaker Ray Coursen who was their founding winemaker and made their wines for a number of years. Over the course of his career in the Napa Valley Ray built some very good relationships with vineyard owners and during his time at Falcor, was responsible for sourcing high quality grapes for all of Falcor’s Napa & Sonoma wines.
Today Fernando Castro is their primary winemaker.
As of the time of this review they currently produce around 6,500 cases. For a small producer, they offer a wide variety of wines – often of varietals not associated with a Napa based winery (usually these varietals are sourced from outside of Napa, from Lodi to Sonoma County to Mendocino). They also specialize in a number of proprietary red blends.
Unlike most Napa based wineries, Falcor also holds back wine several years before releasing – so the consumer benefits from a bit of extra aging time. For example the current vintage of the Cabernet Sauvignon we initially tasted was 2002 which we were tasting 6 years later as their current release.
While they produce a wide variety of wines, they are still well-known for their Chardonnays; the 2003 current release at the time of our first visit (Bacigalupi Vineyard from Sonoma County’s Russian River region) does not disappoint. It is a pale amber color in the glass with notes of honey, crème Brule, caramel, some hints of nuts which follow through to the palate. It is a unique tasting very full bodied Chardonnay with a wonderful mouth feel.
Their 2004 Sangiovese is a Super Tuscan blend (red wines from Tuscany, Italy that do not use historical blending varietals) with 88% Sangiovese and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes for this wine are from Yountville and form a well rounded wine with a smooth elegant mouth feel. Spices, black licorice and black cherry flavors coat the palate.
Lastly their 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon is among the oldest current releases of Cabernet Sauvignon that we have tried during our 900+ Napa winery tastings. This is not a bad thing as this wine has had more time to age. The fruit is from the base of Howell Mountain in the northern part of the valley. Lots of fruit in the nose carries over to the palate. This wine has velvety tannins with a long finish.
Over the years Falcor has built a solid following around their Le Bijou red wine blend. They don’t submit their wines for scores, rather they submit them into a number of blind tastings. This wine has done extremely well in a number of these tastings in including best of class at the 2015 Los Angeles International Wine Competition and a gold at the 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
The 2011 vintage shows an elegant bouquet with herbal notes, a touch of mocha, vanilla, chocolate and darker cherry aromas. On the palate it is very well balanced with flavors of blackberry and blueberry complemented by dessert spice. The tannins are harmoniously integrated in the wine – smooth and fine-grained. Drinks very well by itself but has the acidity and depth of flavor to certainly age. A very nice wine from a challenging vintage.
They have been sourcing grapes from Pritchard Hill for a number of years – always sourcing from a specific block in a particular vineyard each year – the H Block. The 2007 H Block shows ripe but not overly ripe aromas. The fruit aromatics are complemented nicely with a diversity of dessert spices including toasted cinnamon, vanilla and mocha along with hints of dust. Balanced and easily approachable, the palate shows both red and darker fruits. Drinks well by itself but certainly has the structure and acidity to pair with food (and age).
A commercial kitchen is on site and provides tasty bites that can be paired with the wines. Like the diversity of wines the produce, they also offer a diversity of tasting experiences ranging from reds only, whites only, light lunches, cheese and charcuterie pairings and even private dinners paired with some of their.
Laurie is one of the hardest working individuals in the Napa Valley; she is an energetic partner who oversees a number of unique seasonal events including Pig and Pinot, a lobster feed, and special events which showcase some of their older vintages. Fueled by Laurie’s energy and enthusiasm, wine club members have a number of fun and unique events to choose from throughout the year.
NOTE 1: In April 2017 following a trend of several Napa wineries who look outside of Napa to nearby Sonoma County to open tasting rooms or operate tasting rooms for other wineries they own, Falcor opened a tiny wine tasting room just off of the square in the nearby town of Sonoma (about 20 minutes from downtown Napa). Cozy, it it hidden in a small courtyard just off of the main Sonoma Square and features a tasting bar a swell as several small tables and and lounge style seating.
NOTE 2: As of 2017 Falcor has purchased property in the southern part of the valley – and will be planting two acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. We will update this once we have more details.
For more information about their wines and to join the wine club, visit: www.falcorwines.com
Sonoma Tasting Room Photos: