Rombauer Vineyards – rombauer.com

A quick check-in at the gate with appointment in hand and a short trip up the drive lead to a hillside retreat in the heart of the Napa Valley. The Rombauer tasting room is situated among a shade-loving garden filled with artist sculptures and meandering paths. The serene views of the valley floor and surrounding mountains are impressive, with the sights and sounds of Silverado Trail long gone.

The tasting room itself does not mirror its surroundings. It has a tight floor plan with four small bars that visitors huddle around. The decor feels a bit like a recently remodeled dentist office and it can get quite noisy in such close quarters. Yet, the small floor plan means a more intimate tasting experience and the wine educators are extremely attentive. The tasting was also a great deal at only $20 for the Classic Flight and $30 for the Proprietor Flight. We purchased one of each and sampled ten wines overall.

Several favorites emerged during our visit, the first of which was the 2014 Carneros Chardonnay. Rombauer is famous for its Chardonnay and the Carneros does not disappoint. Its remarkably creamy and buttery, like a good Chardonnay should be, and has hints of cantaloupe and tropical fruit.

The 2015 Napa Sauvignon Blanc was characteristically floral with notes of pear and nectarine, while the 2012 Carneros Merlot was soft and lingering with aromatics of red beets, fig, and ripe cherry.

Another favorite was the 2009 Le Meilleur du Chai, meaning “Best of the Cellar”. Its smooth, layered berries were delightful.

The 2012 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon conveyed bold tannins with huckleberry and volcanic earth sentiments, while the 2013 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon held spicy, dry tannins. The 2012 Diamond Selection Cabernet Sauvignon hand an interesting blend of black currant and spicy pomegranate with an oak finish.

Rombauer also featured several Zinfandels that should not be missed. We sampled the 2013 El Dorado Zinfandel with cedar and cloves on the nose. We also enjoyed the 2013 Fiddletown Zinfandel from Amador County. Its sweet cherries hit you like a ton of bricks and round out with flavors of dry summer grasses.

The standout Zin, and our final favorite, was the 2013 Napa Zinfandel. In this case, the term “fruit forward” would be an understatement. It sends a clear message of valley floor sweetness and tastes like biting into a sun-ripened summer blackberry.

Some time after our tasting at Rombauer we came across a crazy label in a local store. Take a look! Jeremy sent Rombauer a photo as a heads up and they thanked him for the information so they could be sure the bottle was pulled from the shelf. Have you ever seen anything like it?

Tip: Don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by labradoodles during your visit to Rombauer. They roam freely about the tasting room.