Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jarvis Winery

Jarvis Winery is worth visiting to see the incredible job they have done making wine caves into a spacious winery. We had been wanting to visit Jarvis Winery ever since hearing from a neighbor about his tour there earlier this year.  It seems to be the only winery that is entirely in a cave.  All the offices, tasting rooms, ballroom, etc. are in the cave with no buildings at all outside it.  I heard the tour was interesting and the wines worth tasting.  Fortunately, we had a friend who is a club member and we did not have to pay the $40 (soon to be $65) for the tour and tasting.  Reservations for the tour and tasting are required.

Outside Entrance to Jarvis
Jarvis really is an interesting place.  It is amazing how much space they made in the caves, including a large tall reception area and a huge ballroom.  They have giant crystals on display in one of the rooms and long halls with wine related photographs. There is even a river in the cave that comes down as a waterfall and exits the cave, helping to keep the humidity high.  Jarvis bottles and then stores all of their wines right there and tends to hold off on releases until they feel the wine is ready to drink.  They produce six to seven thousand cases a year, and, although they have 1300 acres total, only 37 acres is cultivated.  Prior to 1985 there was little there other than livestock.

Barrels Inside Wine Cave
Our tasting was done in luxury at a large dining table where we sat with different glasses for each wine, along with goat cheese, brie and crackers.  We started with the Jarvis 2008 Finch Hollow Chardonnay which has full malolactic conversion (often referred to as malolactic fermentation, MLF or secondary fermentation, but it is not technically a fermentation process so is more accurately described as a "conversion".) This was much too buttery for either of us.  If you like Rombauer type Chards, you might like this one, but neither of us care for this style of a Chard.  We liked all of the red wines much better.  These included the Jarvis 2006 Cabernet Franc ($65), which was our favorite, the Jarvis 2007 Merlot ($75), Jarvis 2007 Lake William Blend ($115), Jarvis 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon ($95), Jarvis 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($195) and the Jarvis 2007 Reserve Merlot ($100).  The 2005 Reserve Cab was rated 94 by the Wine Enthusiast and the Lake William Blend was rated 93.  We took extensive tasting notes, but can summarize by saying that all of these red wines were very drinkable, with the Cab Franc being our favorite.

Stream That Runs Through Caves
You will definitely want to bring a camera to take numerous pictures, especially of the waterfall inside the cave.  The gardens and ponds outside the building are also lovely.  It is really an amazing place to see.  You will also be able enjoy a luxury tasting of Jarvis wines in a setting that is much different from the usual one of standing at a winery bar.

Jarvis Winery
2970 Monticello Rd
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 255-5280
Date of visit: December 28, 2011

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