Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paloma Vineyards and Schramsberg Caves!

On our last day in Napa Valley we only had one appointment at 11:30, which we figured gave us time for a quick stop beforehand.  Having heard from our friends in San Francisco that Paloma Vineyards was supposed to have some great wines, we decided to give them a call the day before and make a reservation.  Like Kuleto, Paloma is up on a mountain, just on the opposite side of the valley.  As we climbed, the views just kept getting better.  After driving about 15 minutes, we arrived at Paloma.  At first, we thought we got the wrong directions because it was a house.  Shortly after getting out of the car, we were welcomed by Barbara, the owner of Paloma, who welcomed us into her home (literally).  We went straight out onto her deck, which had one of the best views.

From the decks of Paloma

More views...

Barbara was a great instructor.  She and her husband came to Napa in the 80's, bought the piece of land and planted merlot grapes (though she is not too happy with this decision now!) with some guidance from their neighbors (like Dan Duckhorn).  Originally, they sold the grapes to a big winery, who would then come in and harvest all the grapes in two days.  Now, however, with her son as the head vintner, they bottle their own product.  Two days is not enough time to harvest grapes, spread over all sorts of terrain.  The grapes all ripen at different rates and the harvest can take up to two weeks!  Perched form her deck, Barbara keeps her eyes on her grapes (as well as some of her neighbors).

Humming Bird

Along the driveway..
After taking in the views for about 20-30 minutes, we went back inside to taste a bottle of the merlot, which was delicious.  This was definitely the smallest vineyard we visited, but the intimate setting was a fun alternative to some of the bigger vineyards we checked out.

After visting Paloma, we were off to Schramsberg Vineyard, a recommendation from Meghan.  The vineyard is known for its amazing sparking wine and caves that are dug from volcanic rock, so they do not need any reinforcement from cement like most other vineyards.

Schramsberg sign - pay attention or you might miss it!
Gardens and Main House
I am the Frog!
Entrance to the Caves

After touring the grounds we entered the caves!  Unlike the wine caves, the sparkling wine caves are lined with actual bottles - no barrels in site.  I was so nervous I would hit one and the whole thing would come tumbling down.

So many bottles of wine
Schramsberg is one of the only remaining US vineyards that still practices the art of riddling, which is the manual process to move the yeast down to the neck of the bottle using a wooden table with cut outs.  This process is extremely laborious, as demonstrated in this video - totally worth a look!).

Loaded Riddling Rack
After our guided tour of the caves, we actually arrived at a table loaded with sparkling wines and glasses for our tasting.  This was definitely a fun place for a tasting!

Tasting Table
In the Caves
Not exactly riddling...
With one of the sparking wines, riddling is not enough, so these guys actually thwack the bottle on a saw horse covered with a tire to help the yeast move down to the top of the neck.  So much man power required for these sparkling wines!  The tour of Schramsberg was definitely worth it.  These caves and the riddling is not something you can see anywhere else that I know of!

From Schramsberg, we got back in our car and reluctantly headed back to San Francisco.  I still have to cover some of the delicious restaurants we visited while in Napa.  The vineyards were all amazing, with each stop offering something unique and memorable.  I feel like we covered so much ground in Napa Valley and now have a much better understanding of the area.  We are totally ready to head back any time in the near future :)


  1. Your trip looks incredible and brings back such great memories of my visit this summer (and summer in general). Looking forward to seeing what restaurants you reviewed. I ate at Ad Hoc, Redd and Celadon and all were fantastic!

  2. That sparkling wine cave is so cool. Definitely putting it on my to-visit list!

  3. So cool that your tasting was in the cave! Ours was in one of the rooms up front. Your photos are stunning!

  4. Schramsberg always reminds me of Meghan...a great bottle of bubbly that she turned me onto. the caves there are gorgeous along with the views on your first stop. impressive all around!


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