Midsummer Cellars is a very small production winery specializing entirely in Cabernet Sauvignon. It is run by Rollie Heitz and at press time produces under 500 cases of premium 100% Cabernet from their own vineyards located near Deer Park on the way to nearby Angwin. Coming from a well-known Napa winemaking family, Rollie has grown up in the industry. He is the youngest son of Joseph Heitz, the original patriarch of one of the older wineries in the Valley – Heitz Cellars. He has gained invaluable winemaking experience during the years working for his family’s business as well as another local winery. He’s always had the “itch” to start up his own winery and took the plunge in 2000 sourcing fruit from other vineyards.
In 2000, finding that it would be more cost effective to grow his own grapes, he and his wife Sally planted Cabernet Sauvignon near their home and now use the fruit from this vineyard for their wine. The actual tasting is held at a small winery in the North part of the valley off of the Silverado Trail. With one of the smaller winery signs in the valley it can be fairly easy to miss. Pull in the driveway, park and then walk the short distance to the actual winery.
Initially Midsummer Cellars custom crushed their fruit at several wineries before they found this excellent location. The winery is about as small a winery as you will find in the Napa Valley. It has a tiny crush pad and a few storage cellar sheds for the barrels. A visit is for small groups and weather permitting is held outside under what is one of the largest Valley Oaks (Quercus lobata) in the Napa Valley. This oak is extremely old and was chosen as a “corner marker” in a land grant many years ago, as even then it was a significant tree. The tasting is always with Rollie as he is the grape grower, vineyard manager, and winemaker and is about as personal a tasting experience as you will find in Napa. In other words he exclusively runs this winery! You will start your tasting with a barrel sample which is an early glimpse of his future vintages and then you will try the “good stuff” which is his current vintage.
We sampled his 2004 Canon Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a very smooth velvety Cabernet with sweet tannins anchoring the pleasant long finish. There are lots of fruit flavors in this wine including blackberry and black cherry especially in the mid palate. The nose is strong and complex. This is a very high end Cabernet but is reasonably priced by Napa standards. Because of the small size of the winery Rollie can micromanage all aspects of the growing and winemaking. He plans to bring additional Cabernets from other vineyards to market and ramp up his production slightly in the coming years. You can join his mailing list. Visit: www.midsummercellars.com