Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Napa Valley with Visits to Cliff Lede and Behrens Family Winery

I was so excited to tell you all about our amazing lunch at Jordan Winery that I skipped ahead in our latest trip to California's wine country. Going back a bit, we actually left Boston at 7:30AM so that we were in San Francisco before noon on a Friday. After meeting our friends who were flying in from Chicago, we were off to Napa Valley for the first of many tastings. I still am so surprised that in only about an hour and a half from San Francisco, you can be tasting amazing wines in the middle of some beautiful surroundings.

We were so anxious to get started, I forgot my camera! source - Cliff Lede
Our first stop was Cliff Lede. Located in Yountville, the vineyard is surrounded completely by their own vines. I love when you can see where the grapes of the wine you are drinking are grown. Each vineyard is named for different classic rock songs - a love of the owner. Since it was so beautiful out, we got our first glasses in our tastings and went out on the beautiful patio to enjoy the sunshine and views of "Bohemian Rhapsody." This was a lovely first stop and really helped us settle into the wine tasting to come!

From Cliff Lede we headed towards St. Helena and climbed Spring Mountain Road, winding through the mountain until we found Behrens Family Winery. The winery is tucked back into the mountainside, which makes for spectacular views down into Napa Valley and across to Howell Mountain.

Views from Behrens Family Winery

While we were surrounded by ines, none of them are actually for Behrens, as they source their grapes from a variety of vineyards that they trust and respect. As we continued to poke around the grounds and snap some photos, Robin was getting the glasses and wine ready for our tasting under the tent.

Tasting tent and outdoor kitchen
However, if you do a lunch, or its raining you can taste inside the trailers!

Tasting Trailer - so fun!
View while we were tasting
Our tasting included seven (!) wines. The tastings themselves were $25 a piece, but if you bought two bottles (and trust me, you will want to buy at least 2) the tasting is free. The winery itself has a bit of history as it first started as Behrens & Hitchcock, a joint venture. However, when Hitchcock decided to retire, Behrens Family Winery was born.

The wines we tasted...
We started with the "Another Roadside Attraction," the label with the diner sign on the front, and I could not help but ask about the label because it really was a piece of art. I was a bit embarrassed, but I was happy I asked because it turns out the labels are real pieces of art owned by the Behrens family or commissioned for their wines. The more traditional label, with the kitchen aid mixer, is an ode to Les Behrens' mother, Erna Schein. The labels are just a small window in how close and family-like the Behrens Family Winery is, and they make you feel at home the moment you arrive.

A look back at the winery...
One of the wines we tasted was The Dark Place (the second to last wine in the photo), which was wonderfully surprising and made from 36% Tempranillo, 35% Grenache, 22% Cab Franc and 7% Cinsault. The winery describes this wine as having "visions in deep garnet, almost black colors will swirl around your mind. This wine satisfies the imagination and is reminiscent of a pine forest with vanilla, sweet cherries, anise and violets. Traveling deeper into the palate brings up savory flavors in the mouth of raspberry, strawberry and freshly ground pepper that is stealthily followed up with a long, broad finish." Another wine we tried was The Knockout (the second one in the photo): "Coming back at you is the 2010 The Knockout. With a beautiful, dark purple color and deep-toned aromatics of espresso and molasses, this wine floats like a butterfly, yet stings like a bee. Licorice and violets, combined with a rich marzipan and huckleberry-blackberry mix, hits your palate and continues on to a voluptuous, solid finish of crème de cassis. This exquisite wine packs a wallop of flavor." 

One last shot of the view from the winery
I really enjoyed every wine we tasted. Between the views, the atmosphere and the wines, Behrens Family Winery is a must visit. Day 1 of vacation really was off to a fantastic start. These two vineyards were a perfect indication of the days to come.  


  1. Beautiful pics! This is making me want a giant glass of wine right now ;)

  2. Those blue skies! I am a huge fan of Lede wines. . . yum.

  3. Amazing pictures.It certainly looks like we could spend weeks in that area! Loved the wine tour. Just think.Definitely a place we want to see:)
    wine tasting at napa valley


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