A great benefit of being a wine club member is being about to enjoy the fun events that are thrown by the wineries, Merryvale is no exception. We planned a day trip to Napa with our friends Joost and Karen to attend the Holiday Barrel Tasting & Pick Up Party and check out one of our most recent wine clubs at Far Niente. We drove up to Napa early enough to grab a delicious breakfast sandwich at Dean and Deluca. Splitting a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on rosemary focaccia, has become a ritual for Alex and I to kick off a day in wine country. Joost and Karen really enjoyed theirs as well and at 10AM, we were off to our appointment at Far Niente. We arrived to a beautiful gated driveway and made our way to the Far Niente estate. Our names were posted on a welcome sign and we walked into a lovely glass of Chardonnay awaiting our arrival. The tour was informative and very structured. Our guide had a walkie-talkie and kept the property well informed of our next moves! We enjoyed seeing the amazing car collection, football field of caves, and heading back to a seated tasting of 4 wines paired with cheeses. The wines were all very nice, but the 2006 Dolce ($85) dessert wine, was out of this world! Personally, I am not a huge fan of sweet wines, but Dolce was something special. I now understand why it is called “liquid gold” by the locals and I’m so glad that we did not gift the bottle we received in our December shipment. The tour and tasting at Far Niente is pricey at $50/person, but if you are looking for a formal tasting and want to taste very nice and expensive wines, it is a great place to try.
Tips – Far Niente:
· Book well in advance, this winery is appointment only, if you try to book in less than 2 weeks you may not get your desired date.
· Be on time! They begin their tastings promptly and you don’t want to keep the other 8-10 people waiting!
· If you love the wine, join the wine club and save $50/person on tastings for up to 4 people. You can also visit their sister Nickel & Nickel with up to 4 people.
· Plan your total experience to last 1.5 to 2 hours, that way you do not overbook yourself and feel rushed.
Once we had made our purchases, we drove back to St Helena and over to Merryvale for the pick up party. We picked up our 3 bottle shipment and checked in. This event was free to wine club members and $25/person for additional guests. We started off with a glass of the 2009 Silhouette Chardonnay and entered the Cask Room for soup, barrel tasting, and library magnum tasting. The two soup offerings were incredible! There was an Asian beef stew and a butternut squash puree that were the perfect balance of sweet and savory depending on your palette and current tasting. We tasted the 2011 Silhouette, then the 2000 library tasting of it. They both were delicious. We then made our way over to reds with tastings of the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and several library tastings of the Profile. The four of us enjoyed the event in the Cask Room because it was very nice, not overly crowded, and it felt very intimate. These are my favorite types of events because you can actually relax, instead of spending your entire time waiting in lines. I really enjoy my time at Merryvale and will have more to say about them in the future. One tip about finding great events to attend at wineries is to go the events section of wineries that you are interested in visiting. Going to an event rather than a tasting can be an equivalent or better experience for the same cost or less. I know that Joost and Karen felt that way while joining us at Merryvale!