Girard Winery has been making wine since 1975 in various locations. Most recently all their wine making operations are located neighboring Sonoma County – west of the city of Napa (until their winery is completed in Calistoga). They maintain a beautiful tasting room open to the public, located right next to Kelly’s Filling Station & Wine Shop in north Yountville (NoYo if you are a local). This tasting room is in Washington Square, a collection of small shops and tourism related businesses within walking distance of a number of hotels, restaurants and other tasting rooms. Yountville is small enough that if you are up for a walk you can make this tasting room and this part of town a destination for the morning or afternoon. The tasting room is modern and well setup with both a bar as well as walk-in sit down tables. A scraped/sandpapered effect on the white paint on the walls is a nice touch to the main room.
Girard offers two private by appointment sit down tastings in the VIP lounge. Both tastings include current releases as well as select limited release and library wines – one tasting is paired with a variety of cheeses and charcuteries. Serious wine enthusiasts can make an appointment well in advance to visit their actual winemaking facility. As with the town of Napa, Yountville has seen a serious increase in tasting facilities and several additional tasting rooms are within walking distance of Girard.
Vintage Wine Estates, with headquarters in Santa Rosa owns and operates Girard Winery (partners Pat Roney and Leslie Rudd). Pat has a strong background in the wine industry as past President of several Sonoma Valley Wineries & the iconic wine shop, Dean & Deluca. He is also a partner in the well-received custom crush facility south of Napa called, Bin to Bottle. Girard’s motto could easily be “high quality wines at affordable prices” – this is very true. In general, their wines have great mouth feel, big aromatics and are reasonably priced.
As of the time of our latest update, Girard uses indigenous yeasts to kick off the fermentation for all their wines with the exception being their Sauvignon Blanc which is inoculated with commercial yeasts. We tried the 2007 vintage – this by the way is also the only filtered wine in their lineup. It sees only tank (no barrel), it is a bright wine that is crisp and refreshing with aromas of guava and grapefruit with the citrus characteristics carrying over to the palate. Are you under the impression that a 100% malolactic fermented Chardonnay always produces a wine that is buttery. Not so. This wine uses a type of yeast that doesn’t create huge amounts of diacetyl, the by product of fermentation that brings the “buttery” characteristics to Chardonnay. As a result, this wine is crisper than you would expect, with a soft mouth feel with a lingering finish full of toasted almond and other nice nutty characteristics. This wine delivers an impressive amount of fruit both on the bouquet and the palate.
A wine of note is their 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel. This is 77% Zinfandel (some vines up to 100 years old) with 23% being a mix of Rhone Varietals. We’ve long wondered which vineyard is the highest one in Napa County. Look no further – the Blue Ridge Vineyard which provides some of the Zinfandel fruit for this wine is Napa County’s highest vineyard at about 2700 feet in the isolated region on the slopes of Mt. Vaca. There are some high vineyards in the Howell Mountain appellation and on Mt. Veeder, but certainly none as high as this one! It’s style is more refined and elegant rather then being over ripe and high alcohol with overly spicy notes that we’ve certainly tried in Zinfandels from other Napa producers.
Girard is best known for their Artistry blend which incorporates the five main Bordeaux varietals. Aside from the great aromatics and appealing fruit characteristics on the palate, the price of this wine has always been attractive. Want their “cult wine” – try the Petite Sirah. This is a big wine from a small berried clone sourced from a fairly warm weather location (Calistoga) and as a result produces very rich concentrated flavors. Their Limited Production wines are generally under 1000 cases and are not sold online.
The 2005 Diamond Mountain was their first vintage using Diamond Mountain fruit (their winemaker has past experience with fruit from this appellation) and this is a very appealing wine. Smooth and soft with juicy fruit this wine sees extended maceration; texturally the tannins are well managed. Their Cabernet Franc is only bottled as its own varietal during “high quality” years and when produced is only available in limited quantities. As they say at Girard, there is “always something happening at the tasting room”. Special days include chocolate pairings, wine and cheese, a library wine day and more!
During the summer Girard is regularly open later than most tasting venues – usually until 7 or 8pm. They are also setup to hold private events from several to 100 people including receptions or full-service sit downs.
For more information and or to join their wine club, visit: www.girardwinery.com
Note: In exciting news for Girard, as of late 2017 construction has started on what looks to be a rather sizable winery – almost across from Clos Pegase at 1077 Dunaweal Lane (just south of Calistoga). The location is certainly convenient as the parent company, Vintage Wine Estates based – also own Clos Pegase.
Girard has a long history in the Napa Valley of making wine at various winery locations including time spent in Sonoma County. We first visited Girard when they were making wine at a small winery high on the slopes of Pritchard Hill (a property now owned by Dave Del Dotto). We will keep a close eye on the construction progress and will revisit once the winery opens.