Robert Pecota Winery was founded by long time Napa veteran Bob Pecota in 1978. He was a coffee buyer in the early 1970’s for Hills Brothers and MJB Coffee in San Francisco (not the first time on this project that we’ve met a vintner who has a background in the coffee business). Bob came to the valley in 1970 in what was to become his initial exposure to Napa’s still small wine industry (as far as number of producers). Nestle had acquired Beringer Winery (St. Helena) and he was offered a job purchasing grapes, and worked at Beringer for several years. Having taken to the wine industry he purchased 40 acres near Calistoga in the northern part of the valley and built the winery. He learned much about the wine industry by “doing”, on the job as well as attending UC Davis. After 28 years, in 2006 he sold this winery to Jackson Family Estates (Kendall Jackson).
You have to admire someone who has been in the industry as long as Bob who has the passion and energy to start over in his early 70’s. At the time of this review he is currently putting the finishing touches on what will be called the “Calistoga Artisan Village”.
This small facility is literally just down the road from his old winery (now Atalon), is surrounded by his vineyards (18 acres to vine) and contains the winery and and an olive oil pressing and processing facility. We have met with so many vintners and others in the Napa Valley who truck their olives out of the county to be processed, most commonly over to Sonoma County. This is a much needed resource for Napa olive producers; both the winery and olive facility are set to handle their first crush/press in time for the 2010. A co-op will also be part of the olive oil facility – if you have less than a ton of olives the oil will be blended with a number of small producers. In addition, Bob has secured the permit for a cheese production facility. We will revisit the winery and olive oil facility once everything is operational.
The vineyards that surround the winery are planted to a number of varietals including the majority to Petite Sirah, and smaller blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. The land in this area was most recently used in a small ranch but records show that it was planted to wine grapes well before that.
Petite Sirah is a varietal that Bob says does very well in this northern part of the valley. It is ideally suited to the large diurnal temperature swings that this part of the valley experiences. Its not uncommon to see a temperature range of between 40 to 50 degrees between the day and night during certain times of the year. Carl Doumani, when he ran Stag’s Leap Winery helped to popularize this varietal and a good portion of the fruit he was using for his Petite Sirah wine came from the Calistoga area. This is also the first wine Bob made commercially in 1978.
We spend maybe 5% of our time on this project north of Calistoga as there just aren’t that many wineries in this part of the valley. This is definitely one of the most northerly wineries within the Napa Valley. The winery is surrounded by views of Mt. St. Helena (tallest mountain that surrounds Napa Valley) as well as excellent views of the Palisades – volcanic formed rock cliffs. While the winery and vineyards are on the valley floor it may surprise you to know that the elevation here is not at sea level while the southern part of the valley is much closer to sea level (closer to the San Pablo Bay). While still “valley floor” the elevation at the winery is above 400 feet and just further north the valley floor tops at about 450 feet.
Pecota focuses their winemaking efforts on three wines, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Petite Sirah and a Muscat Canelli. We have reviewed 2 of these wines below and will add our tasting notes on the Sauvignon Blanc soon.
The 2007 Petite Sirah is an extremely inky dark wine -dark purple to almost black; this is a wine that will “stain” your teeth! The bouquet shows a sweet candied fruit perfume with more subtle aromas of pencil shavings and dark chocolate. The palate displays tar, leather, and lots of big black fruit. The concentrated fruit continues on the finish and the broad widely distributed barrel and fruit tannins linger for some time.
It is always nice to try a little dessert after sampling a plethora of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Each year for nearly 30 years Pecota has made a Muscat Canelli. This wine has been sourced from the same historical vineyard each year (Solari Vineyard)- one of the most northerly located vineyards in Napa right at the base of the mountains that form the edge of the valley. This is one of the finest Muscat Canelli vineyards in Napa and several prominent Napa producers source fruit from here. Calistoga is a good place to grow a number of varietals that maybe you don’t normally associate with Napa Valley and Muscat Canelli is definitely one of these.
The 2005 vintage is not super high in alcohol clocking in at 10% and neither is the residual sugar, also at 10%. This wine is all about the varietal characteristics; fermentation occurs entirely in stainless steel tanks at colder temperatures. The wine is pale straw in color. The bouquet invites one in with enticing aromas of red apple, pineapple, honeycomb, tropical overtones, passion fruit, honeysuckle and browned sugar.
This is a lighter styled wine but the mouth feel is well rounded with a viscous slightly creamy mid to end of palate. Pleasing balanced flavors of pineapple and honey extend across the palate; the finish is smooth and clean with just a touch of lingering citrus flavor.
Their wine has also been served at the White House. For more information visit:
NOTE: Pecota is no longer producing their own label commercially despite having a fairly new winery facility. We will update/archive this review over time.
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Stopped producing wine commercially