Robert Sinskey is a gem of a winery located against the hills on the eastern side of Silverado Trail. Their motto is “fine wines from organic vines”. There is so much going on at this winery that we had trouble limiting the length of our description here! Sinskey was founded by Dr. Robert Sinskey in 1988 and his son is now running most of the major operations. The stone-walled tasting room is elegantly designed and the long semi-rounded tasting counter can accommodate many people. It can get very crowded here especially on the weekends in summer. The 200 acres they own and manage are certified organic and as of 2008 all their vineyards are now farmed biodynamically. Briefly Biodynamic farming involves three things; you build the soil naturally using special natural compost, philosophically farm (prune and harvest based on phases of the moon and planets, and control pests and diseases without chemicals (cover crops, use plants that attract beneficial insects). Choose from tasting flights interestingly titled “Excessive” and “Gluttonous”. Each flight is served with delicious small appetizers. However their wines fulfill neither of these two words as elegant and delicious are two words that come to mind.
This is one of the few walk-in Napa wineries where pairings are automatically served with their wines…which is not a bad thing as you don’t need to make an appointment. Their philosophy is wine pairs much better with food and we are definitely not one to argue this! Oh, and this isn’t just deli purchased items. Maria Sinskey, their well-known culinary director is in charge of all their food operations. She manages a beautiful kitchen near the tasting counter and is also in charge of their organic gardens. As a result, some of the ingredients for these food pairings come from their on site gardens. She is a published author and has appeared on TV food shows many times. During one of our visits we found the food pairings included Zucchini & Goat cheese with Thyme, Gouda with Fig & Quince jam, and some very nice Tuscan style olives.
Try their Abraxas; it is an interesting Alsatian-style blend you won’t find anywhere else in Napa containing Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc. This wine sees no oak during fermentation and aging and is crisp clean and full of exotic fruit and floral aromas and flavors. We tried the 2007 vintage. The finish is lively, long and leaves you wanting to try more. Their high end Pinot noir is from the Four Vineyards in the Carneros region and the 2005 vintage is about 600 cases compared to their much more widely distributed Pinot noir of about 8000 cases. The Four Vineyards 2005 vintage is very well balanced with a nice depth of flavor not often found in “lesser” Pinots. The P.O.V is a Bordeaux blend in which the varietal percentages change every year. POV is a term found in photography; Dr. Sinskey is a photographer and several of his images grace the labels of the wine including this one. The 2005 vintage is an elegant wine with great soft plum flavors and hints of chocolate and anis towards the long finish. The 2005 Vandal Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is from the Carneros region. There are very few Napa wineries who make Cabernet Sauvignon from Carneros due to its cooler climate but Sinskey does an excellent job with this one. It doesn’t have the high alcohol that you find in some of the up valley Cabernets and on the other hand its doesn’t have any vegetal characteristics as you might find from a cooler growing region. They call this the Cabernet for Pinot noir drinkers. Bright acidity with lively fruit including plum, berry and currant combined with silky smooth tannins make this a refined elegant wine.
Lastly of note, their late harvest Zinfandel is one of the best of its kind that we have tasted in Napa Valley and that is saying a lot. Only a 1/3 of an acre is planted; during one of our visits the writing on the blackboard screamed “an erotic experience when paired with chocolate”. Nice! Delicious ripe fruit is complemented with a variety of subtle spices including cedar and vanilla with just a touch of minerality towards the finish. We’ve tried the 2003 and 2004 vintages. Some years this wine is actually dry but these two years it has residual sugar. Instead of just walking in and tasting, consider a Culinary Tour which starts at 11am M-Thursday or a Cave & Cellar tour or their Bento Box tasting which includes five seasonal wine & food pairings – food in a box! The above tours are by appointment only and are limited to 6 or less. Tours can be arranged by appointment only. Sinskey has a sense of humor – all employees have interesting titles such as “drifter”, “zen master”, “motivational goddess” etc! Lastly, check out their extensive and very informative website. Visit: www.robertsinskey.com}