Long Meadow Ranch Tasting Room & Farmstead is located in the southern part of St. Helena just off of Highway 29 (Main Street) across the highway and within a very short walk of the iconic Gott’s Roadside gourmet hamburger stand. If you are on foot, there is a cross walk across the highway which can be highly useful considering traffic is often backed up solid in both directions in this part of St. Helena. And if you are driving, often their parking lot fills up completely especially on busy summer and fall weekends. If this is the case, simply drive down the adjoining street (Charter Oak Ave) and park curbside.
Long Meadow Ranch is one of the most diversified wineries in the Napa Valley. Founders and owners Ted, Laddie and and their son, Chris Hall maintain a 650 acre working ranch south west of this location in the hills of the Mayacamas mountain range (the namesake property for their wines). Chris also runs the Napa based Hunt & Harvest wine label – focusing on limited production varietal wines, from mostly Napa vineyards – available at very reasonable prices.
With reservations, guests can visit the actual winery facility and take a several hour tour of their working ranch. Tours begin in the parking lot here – and guests are then driven up to the winery.
Their St. Helena property features several components including the very popular Farmstead Restaurant focusing on farm to table cuisine. This is one of Napa’s most popular restaurants – with very good food, an open kitchen, a bustling bar and both indoor and outdoor seating. From numerous meals personally eaten here, we can recommend their tasty charcuterie board selection, grilled artichoke and deviled eggs. Weather permitting the outdoor seating is available next to the creatively trellised apple trees (espalier trellising in which the trees are trained along wires, Chris’s idea). For indoor seating, our go to table is in the south west corner of the restaurant.
The bar is also a good place to spot area winemakers – especially on the weekends. The corkage fee at the restaurant is a minimal fee with all proceeds from this donated to local charities. And as expected, they maintain an exciting wine list with wines from more recognized Napa wineries as well as smaller producers. Their own wines are represented including wines from Stony Hill (which is owned by the Halls).
A small but diverse garden wraps around the western side of the property next to Highway 29. This is only but a portion of the property that is planted to fruits and vegetables (about 11 acres in total). A tiny Farmer’s Market wooden building is seasonally open – offering fresh produce from the garden for sale. And continuing a bit further one finds the tucked away cute little Farmstead Café – offering a quiet outdoor space to enjoy a variety of drinks, warm paninis and salads. Several wooden tables are located next to the cafe under the tall blue spruce tree – on this property, this is our go to place for discretely meeting winemakers in the early morning.
The farmhouse tasting salon is located in the restored historic Logan-Ives House. This beautiful house was built in the mid 1870’s and prior to Long Meadow Ranch’s use was a storehouse for Whiting Nursery. The house takes its name from the first owner, James Logan (an undertaker and furniture maker and incidentally a pioneer in the art of embalming bodies) and a subsequent owner Augustus Ives. No appointment is necessary for a taste here.
Long Meadow Ranch currently offers four choices for tastings, two of which are available upon walk-in, a Library Tasting (for groups of 6 or more – by appointment) and their “Full Circle Farming Tour” which is offered 3x a day. This tour involves walking through their sensory and vegetable gardens and concludes with a tasting inside the farmhouse. Visitors should also take a few moments to explore the outdoor parts of the property on their own including the sensory garden, a small vineyard and a chicken coop (and Long Meadow Ranch maintains a small seasonal farm stand next to the gardens).
The salon is modern, elegant and intimate. A private room on the side is available for reserve or appointment only tastings. Long Meadow Ranch makes a variety of wines with the focus being on wines with good acidity, that pair well with foods and are lower in alcohol than the normal Napa Valley wines. As a result their wines are extremely popular with sommeliers and chefs and have been featured at many wine dinners across the country. You can find their wines at a number of Napa’s own restaurants.
The 2008 Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc shows citrus aromas in the nose and is slightly herbaceous. The citrus aromas continue as flavor on the crisp clean palate. Their 2006 Ranch House Red delivers nice quality for a very reasonable price. The nose is slightly spicy with a layered palate and good acidity. It is fairly balanced from start to finish. The 2005 Sangiovese is an excellent food wine. It is ruby color in the glass and shows more red fruit than dark fruit (raspberry, cranberry and other assorted berry fruits). Great acidity too.
They often have a library wine on hand and during one of our visits we tried a 2004 Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a definite soil characteristic to the nose, it is earthy and slightly spicy with both red and black fruits on the palate. This wine is nicely balanced. The 2005 Long Meadow Ranch E.J. Church is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (this wine is named after the original rancher who lived on what is now Long Meadow Ranch). This wine shows some herbal notes on the nose, black tea, hints of chocolate and a palate that is silky soft and smooth from entry to the finish.
There are only two wineries in all of Napa Valley who own the facilities to produce olive oil (the other being Round Pond). LMR makes several types of olive oil at their ranch using imported Italian equipment. Tasting some of these hand produced oils is an eye opener especially when you compare the flavors and aromas to many of the mass produced often bland tasting olive oils one finds in the supermarkets. Some of their trees on the ranch are among the oldest olive oil trees in the county and are still producing (dating to the 1870’s).
There is a way to taste olive oil just as there is a way to taste wine. The tasting glasses are tiny; before you taste you need to warm up the oil, simply place your hand under the glass and your other hand over the glass to keep the aromas inside.
Prato Lungo (meaning Long Meadow in Italian) is a delicate light smooth olive oil. There is just a hint of spice and white pepper on the finish. Their NV Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil is more of a traditional type of oil with a big bigger body and lots of pepper on the finish. If you are using this in salad dressings there is no need to add additional pepper.
LMR Rutherford Gardens Farm Stand is located next to Highway 29 in Rutherford – about a 4 mile drive south of their St. Helena tasting room. In addition to wine they are known for their grass-fed beef, poultry and fresh heirloom produce. No, Napa valley is not entirely planted to wine grapes! This 5.8 acre property supplies fruit and seasonally organically grown vegetables to the farm stand located on site.
A number of top local restaurants also source from their gardens including Auberge du Soleil and La Toque. And select produce from this farm is sold at the St. Helena Farmers’ Market (founded 1986), held from May through October on Fridays from 730 until 12pm at Crane Park in St. Helena (a great place to always bump into local vintners).
They have frequented this market for 30+ years and Laddie is the one usually on site overseeing their produce sales.
An electric vehicle charging station is located in their parking lot. For more information and or to join their Corral Wine Club, visit: www.longmeadowranch.com
St. Helena Farmers’ Market