Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rombauer Vineyards Revisited

Rombauer undoubtedly has one of the most attractive winery grounds, the gardens being carefully planned works of art with picnic tables situated in a half dozen or so locations.  I think many people would enjoy visiting Rombauer even if they did not drink wine, and it is a great place for a picnic.

Patio with view

Rombauer Vineyards was founded in 1982 by Koerner and Joan Rombauer.  It is on the left side of Silverado Trail heading North and is marked by a small sign.  A driveway winds up the knoll where the winery sits on top surrounded by trees and gardens.  


Below the winery is a wine cave that extends for over a mile into the hillside and provides the cool, humid environment that is ideal for storing wine.  Walking paths wind through the gardens.  The tasting room is rather small but pleasant and hospitality at Rombauer has always been very good.  For this visit we thank Mary for being so friendly and helpful.

Flower garden

Last time I visited several years ago I tasted the Classic Flight, which is now $15.  This time I opted for the $30 Proprietor Flight and was very glad for my choice.  My friend opted for the Classic Flight. Rombauer is also in the Napa Neighbor Program.  Rombauer is famous for its Chardonnay which is done with generous malolatic conversion and oak and is not a style for which I care.  Some people really love it though.  It is a matter of personal preference.  Their regular Zinfandel is also very popular and my friend liked it and purchased some. It was his favorite wine of the Classic Flight.

Tasting bar

The first pour was the Rombauer 2005 Stag's Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon at $90.  Many Napa Cabs from this year were powerful wines with significant tannins and needed aging.  This one certainly did and should continue to improve, but I found it quite enjoyable now.  It had a very good nose of cherry, oak, chocolate and earth notes.  On the palate it was a full bodied powerful Cab with black cherry, black currants, chocolate, and green olive.  I liked the tannins but they were not what I'd call soft.  It was, however, well balanced.  The finish was medium plus length with cherry and mocha.  This is not a Cab for the faint of heart but I liked it and would gladly drink some any time.

View from patio

It was quite a contrast to have the Rombauer 2007 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon ($70) next.  2007 was a great year for Napa Cabs.  Many of the 2007 Napa Cabs started out being a bit flashy but often ended up being rather elegant, smooth and very enjoyable.  This one had a lighter nose than the 2005 with mostly cherry and vanilla.  On the palate I got black cherry, black currant, chocolate, vanilla and very well integrated tannins followed by a long finish of black currant and vanilla.  Although full bodied, this Cab is very smooth, even silky.  I'd rate it a 92.  It was my favorite of the tasting.

View from tasting room

Third up was the Rombauer 2007 Stice Lane Cabernet Sauvignon at $70.  Stice Lane is a vineyard in the St. Helena AVA.  This was a lovely purple and violet in color with a medium nose of mostly cherry.  On the palate I got black cherry, forest floor, cedar and chocolate.  It had a medium plus body with firm tannins and a clean medium length finish.  It was good, and I'd gladly drink some any time, but I preferred the 2007 Atlas Peak at the same price.

One of many places to picnic

The last pour was the Rombauer 2010 Proprietor Selection Zinfandel at $60.  This had 4% Petite Syrah added to the Zin and the grapes came from Fiddletown in Amador County.  It is 15.9% alcohol.  The color was a lovely purple, with a very pleasant blueberry and blackberry nose. On the palate it came across as a very fruit forward Zin, bursting with blackberry, chocolate and blueberry pie.  Tannins were very soft and I did not get any Zin spice.  I got a lingering finish of blueberries, or perhaps blueberry jam would be more accurate.  This will not appeal to those who like their Zins really dry, although it is not a late harvest Zin either.  I saved some for my friend who liked it better than I did.  It is a matter of preference in styles.  If you Zins with a lot of very ripe fruit then this might be the Zin for you.  It should age well.

Potted flower garden

I was impressed with the Cabernets at Rombauer and recommend the Proprietor Flight to any serious Cab lovers even thought these wines are only available at the winery.  If you have never been to Rombauer before or if more serious Cabs are not your thing, you will probably want to try the Classic Flight.  With either flight you will end up with free wine glasses at the end.  Be sure to allow time to walk in the gardens or even have a picnic at Rombauer.  You will definitely want to linger, relax, walk around and spend some time in this intimate lovely little garden oasis.

Secluded picnic table

Rombauer Vineyards
3522 Silverado Trail North
, CA 94574
Phone: (800) 622-2206
Date of visit: August 7, 2013

Rombauer is open to the public without an appointment unless you are in a limo or have a party of six or more. From the Rombauer website:
"Wine Tasting 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Daily
Classic Tasting Flight of 4 Current Release Wines $15
Tasting fee is refundable with purchase of 6 bottles of wine.
For groups of 6 or more and/or those traveling by limo 
please call in advance. 800-622-2206."


Sculptures in garden

Sculpture in garden

Friendly cow

Another picnic option

Dino sculpture

Entry to wine cave

Another dino

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