I am really excited about the new tasting room about to open at Swanson Vineyards in Napa Valley. Sure, they’re known for Merlot, and for the elegant Salon wine tasting experience. That’s an intimate sit down tasting, paired with caviar and chocolates. Super luxe, right? But it’s also limited to groups of 8, a couple times a day. What if you want to stop by and try a few bottlings? Up until now, you were SOL. Although they’re not taking text reservations (not yet anyway!), soon you’ll be able to phone up and stop in at the new Sip Shop. The bright red and white striped room is whimsical and fun. Not your average tasting room!
Here you can sip flights of Swanson’s wine, paired with some small bites. One signature pairing will be the Swanson Pinot Grigio matched with American caviar on a potato chip. Mmmm. Opening is planned for June 1st. Yes you do have to call ahead, as tastings are by appointment only. Calling on your way there qualifies. There will be a fee for tasting, from $14-$28 per tasting. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, I joined a group of wine writers and bloggers in a tasting led by winemaker Chris Phelps. He’s tweaked the blends since joining the winery in 2003, and you can taste the results in the 2005 and 2007 Merlot and 2007 “Alexis” Cab, which show lots of fruit and finesse. The ’08 Cab in barrel is lush and should develop quite nicely.
The Merlots fall into the description “iron fist in a velvet glove” and have a voluptuous mouth feel, full of lots of ripe black fruits. The Pinot Grigio is a beautiful wine for sipping on the warm days of summer. The rice body comes from time spent on the lees. The perfect ending – a glass of the 2005 “ Tardif,” a late harvest Chardonnay.
Our tasting took place in the Salon, and as you can see, it’s a beautiful space, with high ceilings and bright coral walls. Here’s the TV story we did about it for In Wine Country.