Outland Collection is a partnership between three winery owners, Tom Farella of Farella Vineyard, Samantha Sheehan, proprietor of Poe Wines and Matthew Rorick winemaker and owner of Forlorn Hope Wines.
Farella Vineyard (established in 1985) is located about 4 miles east of downtown Napa in the sub appellation of Coombsville. This is a family owned winery – Frank Farella purchased land here in the mid 1970’s and his son Tom Farella has been the winemaker and manager for many years. Tom was directly responsible for creating what is still Napa’s most recent sub appellation – Coombsville. They produce under 1,500 cases a year of traditionally produced Napa varietals.
Poe Wines are made in Napa from Sonoma and Mendocino sourced grapes with the focus being on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A Raven’s wing shows on the front of each of the wine labels with numbers, some more or some less visible in the background (depending on the label). The name and labels are a tribute to Edgar Allen Poe, his poem “The Raven” and also his fascination with cryptography (solving codes). Samantha grew up in Toluca Lake (Los Angeles County) and recalls the numerous ravens that used to congregate near her home (some were supposedly released by one of the studios after filming parts of the Hitchcock film, The Birds). And of course there is the Sonoma County connection (where some of her grapes are sourced from); Bodega Bay is where part of The Birds was also filmed.
The Poe wines are sold direct and to premium domestic restaurants – Outland is Samantha’s first retail outlet. She also makes a stand alone wine from Poe called Ultraviolet. This is one of the more affordable Napa Cabernet Sauvignon’s you will find.
Forlorn Hope owns vineyards and a winery near Murphys in Calaveras County (put Murphy’s on your radar if you have never visited or haven’t been in some years – it is a charming old gold rush town that now features a plethora of wine tasting rooms). Forlorn Hope focuses on some very interesting and obscure varietals such as Alvarelhao, Verdelho (not as obscure although there is only one Napa producer we know of making wine from this varietal) and Trousseau Gris among others. They hand-craft a wide variety of small production wines.
All the owners/winemakers live in the Napa Valley. Samantha makes her wines at Farella – neither have a tasting room open to the public and they were looking to find an accessible space such as this where people could either make appointments or walk-in. They reached out to Matthew and he became the third partner in this collective tasting room.
This tasting room is very central – within easy walking distance of a number of hotels and restaurants including two of the most prominent hotels downtown, Andaz and the Archer.
Despite being in a ‘fishbowl’ a tasting here is very personalized – the tiny space is surrounded by large windows letting you easily see passerby’s and allowing them to see in. A map on the wall is lit with colored lights representing vineyard locations. Visitor’s who make appointments may request private tastings with any of the partner winemakers (subject to availability and their schedules).
At last count there are approximately 30 tasting rooms/tasting experiences offered in the downtown Napa area, open by walk-in or by appointment (including several not quite yet open) – each one is unique in it’s own right and offers a different experience from the others. A visit here is a rare chance at a Napa based tasting room to enjoy wines from outside of the county – some quite unique. For example Poe Wines makes a Vin D’Orange Vermouth and Forlorn Hope produces a number of obscure varietals – ones you certainly won’t find in Napa.
The name Outland was conceived for several reasons – to represent some of the unique wines represented here (unusual by Napa Valley standards) and some of their vineyards outside of the Napa Valley including in Calaveras, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Tastings can be either by flight, glass or bottle. Choose from four flights – one for each of the three vintners and the Outland Flight combines wines from all three producers. The wines represented are are priced reasonably.
The 2013 Poe Manchester Ridge Pinor Noir was sourced from Mendocino County – a vineyard that is located at 2,000 feet in elevation. Aromatically this wine is very pretty – with a floral perhaps dried herb note and a sweetness of fruit present. It is very balanced with a lengthy finish including lingering flavors of dried cranberry.
The Vin D’Orange (Sparkling Citrus) Vermouth (produced by Poe Wines) is a very unique offering for Napa Valley. Samantha remembers being impressed by a vermouth made by one of her friend’s who was a chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley where they used to serve it as an aperitif. According to Samantha that vermouth was delicious but was fairly unstable and would start fermenting again after a few days. She changed the recipe somewhat and made it properly this time. 300 pounds of Seville Orange pulp/peels were processed by hand to make this; the grape source was Chardonnay from Mendocino County. Aromatically it shows notes of orange peel, a musky component and pine needle. Somewhat sweet there is bit of a lift from being slightly carbonated. There is a noticeable but pleasant bitterness (which we don’t mind) on the finish. Sold in 375’s.
Matthew calls his wines “Rare Creatures” each one different from the other, limited production wines with personalities based on terroir and each unique fermentation. The 2015 Chenin Blanc underwent a slow 8 months of primary fermentation. Aromas of citrus blossom and lime lead to a palate that is somewhat rounded and creamy in nature. Balanced with both citrus and apple – good acidity and very lively. Nice food wine although it certainly is quite tasty by itself.
Looking to combine lunch with your tastings? You can do so – Outland has partnered with nearby Morimoto Restaurant to provide a special lunch to be paired with a flight of your choice. Allow at least 24 hours advance notice.
For more information about Farella, see our separate review here.