Mumm Napa (formerly Domaine Mumm) is a picturesque winery well worth visiting located on the west side of the Silverado Trail about 2 miles north of the Oakville Cross Road. The first vintage of Mumm was bottled under Domaine Mumm in partnership with Seagrams and dates from 1983 – the first several vintages were produced at Sterling Vineyards prior to the winery being built four years later.
Nearly 160 years after its parent company was founded in Reims, France, Mumm Napa was established with the construction of the winery in 1986/1987 overseen by founding President & Winemaker Guy Devaux (died in 1995). Guy was instrumental in their early development and success – the Mumm Signature DVX is named in his honor with its first vintage dating from 1990. He was winmaker here from 1983 through 1987 with another prominent vintner, Rosemary Cakebread serving as the assistant winemaker.
Two stories of the winery were built below ground level against the hillsides of the Vaca mountains which extend west into the Rutherford appellation. The winery changed its name to Mumm Napa and opened to the public in 1990.
Visually Mumm Napa usually displays the first signs of the upcoming harvest in the Napa Valley. If you happen to be here in mid summer look for their trademark plastic yellow bins stacked up outside the winery (referred to as cajas by Hispanic workers). As with other sparkling producers in the valley, their harvest always starts early compared to the still wine producers – in 2015 their harvest started on July 22nd – this was among the earliest ever harvest in recent memory in the Napa Valley.
Their specialty is sparkling wines with names like blancs, bruts, and cuvees. This is one of only four wineries in the Napa Valley specializing in sparkling wines. However they are located in Rutherford which is not an ideal climate for growing the primary three varietals for making sparkling wines – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. As a result, their grapes come from the cooler southern San Pablo Bay influenced climate of Carneros including from their 110 acre leased Devaux Ranch Vineyard, parts of the Oak Knoll District and select other cool weather sites.
One hour tours are offered each day starting at 11am, 1pm & 3pm. This is an excellent “production behind the scenes tour” in which you learn about sparkling wine making techniques and get to see the machinery in action especially in parts of August and early September during crush. Meet Big Al, their large blending tank towering above all their other tanks and also BOB, their amazing robot which handles 36 bottles at one time with its suction cup “fingers”. BOB consistently wins employee of the month and our human tour guide was quite bummed and up front about this!
As you begin you tour, you will be introduced to trellising on several rows of vines that mimics how vines are trellised in the Champagne region in France – which is very low to the ground. You rarely see these types of vines planted commercially in the Napa Valley. The main reason for this low type of trellising is Champagne has a very cool growing climate and the vines are trained low to the ground to maximize the radiant soil heat.
Sparkling wine needs to be turned or “riddled” to move the dead yeast down to the end of the bottle where it can be eventually removed. Mumm has automated this entire process and their “riddling” room is quite a sight to see, especially if you are lucky enough to see the machines in action. Each machine, called a gyropalette holds 500 bottles on a hydraulic arm. Rather than taking up to 8 weeks to complete the riddling process if done by hand, this machine can complete this task in up to merely 8 days.
Their primary aging room features a capacity of over 1 million bottles. A large window overlooks this room from the main art gallery – visitors look down over upon sea of oak barrels.
A beautiful indoor tasting salon is surrounded by windows affording one excellent views of the outside vineyards. Tables are also setup outside (weather permitting) on their Oak Terrace (centered around a nearly 200 year old impressive oak tree). Sit down, wait for your server and choose from several tasting flights ranging from the “Best of the Best” to their slightly sweet “Palate Pleaser”. You may also order a plethora of sparkling wines by the glass. Note the informative wine quotes under the coasters.
Did you know that Mumm, a popular sparkling house also makes several still wines? These are usually released in the spring and are the same varietals used to make their sparkling wines (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris). Our favorite of the off dry wines is the Cuvee M Red, a sparkling that captures delicious fruit flavors.
Their 2002 Mumm DVX Rosé is not sold through distribution – rather it is only available for purchase at the winery. It is slightly pink/orange with aromas of strawberry and lavender and pleasing red and black berry flavors. The 2004 Mumm DVX was the first California based sparkling wine producer to receive a 94 points from the Wine Spectator.
A small gift shop selling wine souvenirs and and related clothing is located adjacent to the outdoor terrace.
A must see with any visit to Mumm Napa Valley is their photo gallery; well-known artists exhibit their art pieces – admission is free of charge to the public. Their first exhibit was from 1993 and included a number of winery related photographs by the famed Ansel Adams.
Mumm also displays a number of photographs by Adams – a permanent collection loaned to Mumm by his grandson Matthew Adams. During our first visit, the gallery contained original Sierra Nevada mountain photographs by both Adams and more recent outdoor photographer, Galen Rowell. Some of the photographs in this exhibition were for sale – in the $20,000 to $30,000 price range. Over the years this gallery has displayed iconic works from other top photographers including Robert Turner, Todd Hido and musician Graham Nash.
G.H. Mumm, Reims France
The original G.H. Mumm & Co. was established in 1827 in Reims France by three brothers from the Rhine Valley in Germany (along with two other partners) with the original name of the company, P. A. Mumm Giesler et C°. The PA was a tribute to their father, Peter Anthony who was a wine merchant. The Mumm family heritage in the world of wine dates back to at least 1761 when the family started P.A.Mumm in Cologne, Germany (both producers of wine from their family vineyards as well as wine distributors).
The company has had several milestones over the years including in 1876 the decision to decorate the neck of every bottle released with a simple but bold looking red silk ribbon. This ribbon was inspired by several of the highest honors one can receive in France including the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint Louis and the Grand Cordon de la Légion d’Honneur. Today this red symbol is Mumm’s iconic look.
G.H. Mumm is owned by France based Pernod Ricard, one of the world’s largest producers and sellers of wine and spirits. The Mumm family has not been involved with the winery since the 1940s.
The winery is located in Reims – about a 90 to 120 minute drive from either central Paris or Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG). A number of experiences can be booked including the introduction to G.H. Mumm, the Cordon Rouge Experience. Other tasting experiences feature more limited production and rarer wines. Tours begin with an introduction film about G.H. Mumm and basic history of the Champagne region. One will learn that Mumm owns about 540 acres of vines but has to source grapes from vineyards nearly 3/4 more in size – from growers throughout Champagne.
Following the film, visitors enter the cellar. The tour offers a fascinating look through some of their historical and contemporary production with a visit to only part of their 25 kilometers of underground tunnels. Like other caves in parts of Champagne the tunnels are carved out of a white chalk (one can feel the walls are slightly damp to the touch). Several highlights of the cave tour include one room that houses some of their oldest wines and a large room that contains numerous pieces of historical winemaking equipment.
In the 1970s a bicycle race was held in one of the long tunnels with the winner completing the ‘course’ in only 19 seconds!
Following the visit to the caves, upstairs in the small but posh tasting salon, several sparkling wines will be offered. This is also a good opportunity to meet some of your neighbors from the tour – chances are there might even be a few others from your home country. To book an experience and or for more information about G.H. Mumm, visit: www.mumm.com
Mumm Napa takes their last tasting at 530pm and closes to all new visitors by 6pm. For more information about Mumm Napa, visit their website for current exhibits and other details and or to join one of their wine clubs: www.mummnapa.com
Devaux Vineyard Ranch, Carneros
G.H. MUMM, REIMS FRANCE
Photographs coming by mid 2021!
Moulin de Verzenay
Photographs coming by mid 2021!