We all remember our first love, first car and first winery we visited right. I remember the first two but the wine geek in me remembers visiting Hess Collection Winery on Mount Veeder in 1997. It was the first winery I had ever visited early in my wine career. Hess Collection will be one of 11 wineries pouring their wines at “A Taste of Mount Veeder” on Saturday March 2nd. The tasting will be at Troon Country Club from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
About Mount Veeder
The Mount Veeder appellation is part of the Mayacamas range on the western side of Napa Valley. It borders Sonoma County to the west and the Carneros appellation to the south. From vineyards a top the mountain on a clear day you can see San Francisco to the south as I did from Rubisow-Sargent’s vineyards on another visit to Napa Valley.
In 1993 it was designated an American Viticultural Area(AVA) and covers 16,000 acres with only 1,000 acres under vine. Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 64% of grapes grown. Mount Veeder represents 1.3% of wine production in Napa Valley.
It was the first AVA to grow Petit Verdot, have all 5 Bordeaux varietals planted at one vineyard and produce a wine with all 5 Bordeaux varietals.
This will be a unique opportunity to taste these wines in one place as some of the wineries are not open to the public. Participating wineries will be…..
Boich Family Cellar
The Hess Collection Winery
O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery
Random Ridge Robert Craig Winery
Rudd Estate Winery
Yates Family Vineyards
Find wines that you like and you’ll be able to order them for your collection. Tickets are $75 in advance and include gourmet hor d’oeuvres. Tickets will be $100 at the door. To purchase tickets visit their website or call 707-266-1296 before they sell out.
Troon Country Club is at 25000 N. Windy Walk Dr. Scottsdale 85255.
Robert Craig has been in the wine industry for over three decades having been General Manager of Hess Collection Winery and helping to emphasis the the unique qualities that mountain fruit can have when making wine. Mountain fruit is better structured, concentrated than valley fruit & can age better. He’s helped develop hundreds of acres on Mt. Veeder & when he started his own winery in 1992 he wanted to use fruit from both Mt. Veeder in southern Napa Valley & Howell Mtn. further north and across the valley. He also makes a limited wine from Spring Mountain. Known for their big style Cabernet Sauvignons Robert Craig Winery has garnered not only some great press over the years, but also a cult like following. I had the chance to see Robert once again when he was in town and taste some recent releases. I also had a chance to chat with him and he is looking forward to the 2010 vintage and says production could be lower than previous vintages.
Here is what I tasted with Robert and my thoughts….
The 2009 Durell Vyd. Chardonnay Sonoma Valley was just released and I was one of the 1st people to taste it. Lively and soft I found it very well balanced with good fruit, oak & mineral characters. Only 588 cases produced.
The 2007 Howell Mtn. Cabernet Sauvignon had big tannins, a good fruit character and nice long finish. Built to last (like all his Cabs.) this shows the depth of how mountain(2,300 ft up) fruit differs from valley fruit. He recommends decanting. 1,488 cases produced.
The 2007 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon has softer tannins, bigger concentration of fruit combined with good acidity and see’s almost 2 years in french oak barrels. One of his most age worthy wines and patience will be rewarded. 1,480 cases produced.
The 2008 Affinity Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by many to be his flagship wine. A Bordeaux blend of mostly Cabernet, followed by Petite Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Malbec offers some unique flavors thanks to the mix of grapes and changes from year to year. Currants and spice are prevalent along with a medium body make the 4,780 cases produced always a winner with the consumer and the press.
He also makes small amounts of Zinfandel and a Mt. George Cuvee. His wines are not found everywhere, but they’re well worth the search. So next time you’re looking for a big Napa Valley Cabernet or if you’re a collector Robert Craig wines needs to be in your collection. You won’t be disappointed.