Jamieson Ranch (formerly known as Reata Winery and Valley Gate Vineyards) is located about as far south as a winery can be, to still be considered a Napa Valley area winery. It is located right off of Highway 12, SE of the city of Napa and is a good “break” winery from the terrible traffic that can plague this part of Highway 12 at times (although plans are in the work to turn the highway into a much needed 4 lanes all the way to the Central Valley. This is the Jamieson Canyon area of Napa, a somewhat similar growing climate to the more famous nearby Carneros region. This is because both areas are located relatively close to the San Pablo Bay. This is the closest Napa winery to Sacramento. You can make it here from downtown in just under an hour.
The inside of the building has a rustic western motif with lots of hard wood and one of the more spacious tasting rooms of any Napa winery (3000 square feet). The property used to be part of a huge cattle and horse ranch. Weather permitting there is a very nice outside deck surrounding the upstairs tasting area. Jamieson Ranch as a winery is very new; 2009 is their first vintage and several wines had already been released from the estate at the time of our review. In order release other varietals (non estate), they have purchased fruit from other areas of the Napa Valley. As a result, they have quite a few wines already available for tasting.
More than 100 acres of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are planted around the winery. In Napa, this is an ideal area (along with neighboring Carnerso) to grow cooler weather varietals, most notably, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Other wineries have vineyards in the area including Artessa and Laird. All Jamieson Ranches wines are reasonably priced (certainly not common from a Napa based winery).
The 2009 Viognier is from the estate; the bouquet is pleasing showing notes of cinnamon, baked red apple, aromas of pineapple and hints of lemon. Flavors of pear and white peach show on the palate with a slightly earth finish.
The 2009 Pinot Noir reveals cranberry and blueberry aromas – this wine is very much fruit driven both in the bouquet and on the palate (certainly a part of being such a young wine). Its crafted in a lighter style; a clean easy drinking Pinot Noir. The mouth feel is soft and the wine shows nice acidity. Valley Gate’s winemaking philosophy is to try and make wines that are food friendly (this one is a good example) and to keep the alcohol levels lower.
The General Manager who oversees the winemaking operations is Montgomery Paulson who has a background in winemaking at Rosenblum Cellars (known for their Zinfandel). With a background in Zinfandel you would expect good things from their Zinfandel. Their first release is from 2007 and is the biggest wine in their lineup. Red and black cherry show on the nose, its not a spicy bouquet. Expansive fruit flavors, just slightly jammy (blackberry, with a big finish showing broad tannins with just a touch of oak that lingers. This is a good value wine.
With the large facility they have partnered with a local catering company and will be having a variety of events on site including rehearsal dinners, cocktail parties and corporate events. In addition, their winery facility is sizeable (can be viewed from the second floor near the tasting bar). Jamieson Ranch has a partnership with Napa’s Bin to Bottle in which a number of custom crush clients use the facilities for making their own wine.
In addition to their walk in tastings, Jamieson Ranch also offers complimentary tours by appointment. There interactive tours explores the wine-making facilities and operation including fermentation area, barrel room and bottling line. Visit: www.jamiesonranch.com