Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Flora Springs and Honig: A Delicious Day Trip

After deciding to try something different for breakfast, I yelped during the drive to downtown Napa and came across Grace's Table. Once we saw that the reviews seemed consistent and the menu looked delicious, we made our way to Napa and stepped into the restaurant around 9:30AM. We were shocked to get there and be immediately seated during prime weekend breakfast time, but we were so relieved not to be rushing through our meal to make the first tasting appointment! As I scanned the room, I noticed a cute chalkboard filled with Daily Specials and wines by the glass, a bar filled with an array of pastries - and our neighbors had just received their french pressed coffee. We had a feeling that this was going to be good, and it was better than we had imagined! I'm not sure what I liked more - the fresh baked doughnuts, cinnamon roll, or the chilaquiles with fresh lime creme. They were all so different and wonderful that Alex and I were fighting over the last bites! 45 minutes later, we settled the bill and began our short trek to St Helena for our tour and tasting appointment at Flora Springs Winery. During the drive, we couldn't stop taking about who we wanted to take to Grace's Table, and what we thought they would love to try!

As soon as we arrived at the winery we were greeted by Travis, our tour guide, and he poured us a generous amount of Sauvignon Blanc to get us started. It was very light and refreshing! Travis was very personable and shared a great mix of information about the winery, history on Napa wines, and some personal tidbits that made us feel relaxed and comfortable throughout the tour. People in our group were asking him all kinds of questions...ones that were so out there! He handled them well and tried his best to win the tasting group's "wine trivia". We walked around the vineyards, explored the wine making process, and tried the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon out of the barrel in a side-by-side tasting of the wine in French vs American Oak. Our glasses were never empty, and the time just seemed to fly by.

The highlight of the tasting for me was during the formal sit down tasting back in the main house. We tried all of the special reds at that time, including the 2008 Holy Smoke Single Vineyard Cabernet. It was truly something, and at $85/bottle it was definitely a wine to buy and hold for a special occasion. I would recommend planning a tour and tasting here, if you want to try different varietals and have a few hours to enjoy and relax at this winery. I learned a lot during my time at Flora, and I felt like it was a great way to spend my day. Three hours and ten (or more) tastings later, the experience casually ended.

Once we realized that we had 10 minutes to get to our next tasting, we kicked up the pace and made our way over to the car. We were off to Honig! After driving through the fall leaves and making our way to the tasting room, I immediately felt warm and relaxed as we arrived and settled in. Everyone tasting and working at the winery was super friendly and laid back. Our tasting experience here was in and out in 30 minutes. We tried 4 wines, one Sauvignon Blanc, two Cabernet Sauvignons, and a port. I really liked that Honig only produced 2 varietals. The wines are well balanced, and the finish was very nice. I feel that this type of quality is typically is achieved more often at wineries that specialize in certain varietals and the winemakers really spend time perfecting them, as they do at Honig. Although our tasting was very short, we were able to taste, chat about the details of the winery, and buy a bought a bottle of there delicious 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($40) within that time. Also, after spending so much time at Flora Springs, it was nice to have a shorter experience to end our day! We left Honig and made it back to the city before dark, with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the evening.

Tips - Flora Springs:
  • If you're going to try Flora Springs, book an appointment at the winery- not the tasting room. They are both completely different experiences, but the winery not to miss!
  • Plan to be there for 2-3 hours, our appointment was at 11:00 and we barely made it out by 2:00.
  • If you are driving, taste and dump! You will receive a lot of tastings on the tour, so pace yourself. Also - they will give you as many water bottles as you would like, I drank almost 3.

  • If you want to try a specific wine, don't be afraid to ask! I have a coworker who is a wine club member here, and she mentioned how amazing the Rutherford Hillside Reserve ($100) and the Holy Smoke ($85) were. I asked to try them both and Travis pulled them out for a tasting treat.
Tips - Honig:
  • The tasting fee was $10 a person, and the wines were tasty - I especially loved the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Note: Fee will be waived if you buy a bottle for $25 or more (if you end up buying the napa cab, it's almost like getting a 25% discount).
  • Book an appointment here if you are planning multiple stops and want to taste somewhere that you could potentially get in and out quickly. This will work well with other longer tasting appointments (like the one we had at Flora Springs), if you have them booked on the same day.
  • Remember, this winery is appointment only. Call in advance to make sure that there is availability.

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