Whetstone Cellars moved in 2011 to an impressive stand alone tasting room in a historic building that dates back to 1885. Their tasting room is located on Atlas Peak Road (next to Del Dotto Winery); this a significant upgrade from their shared tasting room in downtown Napa. Tastings are by appointment – they also offer special events such as lunches or vineyard tours (also by appointment). This venue offers them a number of options for tastings – when the weather is decent private tastings can take place under the arbor next to the building or on the second level floor behind the building.
This building used to be a winery and during World War II was a distillery. It was actually vacant for about 15 years until Whetstone moved in. This is the “find of the year” in our opinion in Napa for 2011.
Whetstone focuses on Pinot Noir from neighboring Sonoma County utilizing the counties top Pinot Noir producing regions of the Sonoma Coast and the Russian River valley. Jamey also makes a Chardonnay from Sonoma and his one Napa wine, the Syrah. All their wine is made at a custom crush facility located just south of the city of Napa.
Jamey Whetstone has certainly put in his time from the “bottom up” in the wine industry. He managed Mustards Grill just north of Yountville before working at Turley Cellars. When you are passionate and focused about making wine sometimes any door into the wine industry will do; Jamey was hired to drive a tractor for Turley Cellars in 1998. He soon moved beyond that as working at Turley was an invaluable educational experience. He helped plant and manage many acres of vines, became an assistant winemaker, then started Whetstone with the first vintage released in 2002 and eventually started consulting for other boutique producers. He also has International experience having worked at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy France in 2001.
The Syrah comes from the Phoenix Ranch located on the eastern side of the southern part of the Silverado Trail. This is a cooler climate (in relation to the northern part of Napa Valley) known as Coombsville. The vineyard experiences a long hang time in part from the cooling influences of the San Pablo Bay to the south. Merely 250 cases of the 2006 Syrah was produced.
The 2006 Syrah shows powerful aromatics straight from the bottle into the glass. It has an unctuous nose with wild berry and a floral component; the integration of the fruit and floral driven aromas make this an inviting wine to smell. It is a dark inky wine and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Pleasant spices show from the mid palate to the finish including black and white pepper and vanilla. The finish is well integrated with smooth tannins and notes of brown chocolate. The mouth feel is rather soft and rounded with good acid balance.
Jamey is also an owner and co-founder of Manifesto! wines. Whetstone typically tastes their wines by appointment – For more information visit: www.whetstonewinecellars.com
NOTE: We will re-visit this new tasting room and update this review by mid 2012.