Romeo Cellars is owned and operated by Eugenia Romeo whose vineyards are in the northern part of the Napa Valley just south of Calistoga. The 16.5 acre vineyard is somewhat unique as they are located on & near one of the few actual knolls rising from the valley floor. This vineyard is named “The Blue Heron” in tribute to a Blue Heron that was killed by a poacher when they were in negotiations to purchase the property. A pair of blue herons now live on the property as well as a bunch of other wildlife.
The wine label is called Sempre Vive Latin for “Always Alive”. This is a tribute to the grape even when its in wine form in the bottle as wines constantly change and are not static in aroma and flavor. It can also be construed as being a tribute to the land the supports these vineyards as well as the variety of plants and animals which call this property their home. Fruit from the vineyards was used by nearby Chateau Montelena for many years and when the Romeo’s purchased the property in 1997 they slowly phased out growing contracts and started using the grapes for their own wine. The oldest block in the vineyard dates to 1971 and is an unidentified Cabernet Sauvignon clone. This clone produces excellent fruit so they have cultured and propagated additional vines and named it after their son.
A number of their earlier vintages are available for purchase as of press time which is great for the consumer as these wines have already had additional aging time in the bottle. All grapes for the wines comes from their own vineyard. We tried the Eugenia Cabernet Sauvignon which is blended with 8% Petite Verdot. This wine has delicate aromas of cherry and some cedar which follows through stronger in the palate. The finish is long and smooth. The 2002 Miscella includes wine from three Cabernet Clones plus 15% Petite Verdot. Merlot lovers often think this wine has characteristics of Merlot even though there is no Merlot juice here! The rich fruit flavors of blackberry carry through the entire palate.
Looking for a Petite Verdot wine? You will have a hard time finding this varietal from Napa as the dominant varietal in a wine, but Romeo makes a very nice version. Not to be missed is their Siempre Vive Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been nicknamed “Candy” by Romeo’s customers and even in competitions sometimes gets called out as judges believe there might be some residual sugar in this wine. Not so, it is bone dry but with concentrated fruit flavors and juicy tannins it can often be mistaken for “candy”! Romeo often has older vintages available for sale online. Their total production is around 3000 cases.
Note: Romeo Cellars opened a tasting room in downtown Calistoga in late 2013. We have plans to visit and update this review.