As I mentioned previously, I have an eternal soft spot for V. Sattui Winery, and after attending their annual Crush Party on Saturday night, I’d go so far as to say that I’m completely head over heels in love with this family-owned St. Helena winery. Keep your eye on V. Sattui’s calendar of events, and consider buying a ticket to next year’s Crush Party.
V. Sattui’s Crush Party is an annual celebratory open house with music, food, and of course, copious amounts of V. Sattui’s wide variety of exceptional wines. The party gives wine aficionados a chance to learn about the winemaking process, with demos on everything from grape sorting to cork making. You can taste wines at multiple stages of the fermentation process, and even kick off your shoes and jump into a huge tub of grapes for a good old-fashioned grape stomp. Chat with the winemakers while you sample dozens of wines, snack on delicious hors d’oeuvres, and dance along to the live music. To top it all off, the winery looks absolutely gorgeous, with bright red tents and sparkling white lights everywhere. It’s easy to understand why this event sells out every year. It’s simply an incredibly fun and joyous celebration. I’ve been looking forward to it for months, yet it managed to exceed all my expectations. Luckily, it’s a great night to take some memories home with you, as there are great discounts on a number of wines, including discounts of up to 30% on certain cases for truly dedicated connoisseurs.
Tasting the Madeira in three stages of production.
Learning how corks are made.
Watching foils put on bottles as the finishing touch.
Tasting wine straight out of the barrel when it is still in the “juice” phase.
The Crush Party is only one of the many annual events hosted at V. Sattui. I know that I’ll be keeping my weekends open for next year’s Barrel Tasting Party and Lobster Fest. If last Saturday’s Crush Party is any indication, they’re guaranteed to be memorable events.
Everyone in San Francisco has his or her own favorite Napa vineyard, and mine, without a doubt, is V. Sattui Winery. My friends and I made the trek up to wine country two Sundays ago, and while we made an effort to try out some new wineries, we never even considered going anywhere else but V. Sattui for our lunchtime tasting.
This family-owned Saint Helena winery has it all, from delicious wines to beautiful grounds to friendly service. In the Main Tasting Room, you have a few different tasting options. With the $5 Classic Tasting you get to select 5 tastes off of a menu of about a dozen options, and with the $10 Premium Tasting you get to select 6 tastes off of a more extensive menu including limited-production wines. However, those numbers seem to be viewed more as suggestions than as rules. At our tasting on Sunday, our host went above and beyond the Classic Tasting, pouring us extra tastes of wines he thought we’d enjoy based on what we’d liked so far, as well as a few tastes of special wines that he clearly was just excited to share with us. We probably ended up with about 10 tastes each. There’s nothing worse than a stingy winery, but every time I’ve gone to V. Sattui I’ve had similarly generous and enthusiastic hosts, and they certainly do their job well, because I usually walk out of there with a bottle under each arm. On Sunday, my friends and I were so won over that we ended up collectively purchasing a case of a combination of wines, which was 15% off because one of my friends is a V. Sattui Member. There are some great membership perks, including free tastings for you and your friends, and all you have to do to become a member is purchase a case, so it’s definitely worth going in together with your friends on a case so that one of you can reap the membership benefits.
On that note, filling a case won’t be hard to do, because V. Sattui’s wines (which are not sold in stores, but only at the winery or online) are fantastic. I’m not much of a red wine drinker, but they have some really nice whites, particularly the award-winning Chardonnay ($22/bottle). My favorites are actually their sweet wines, which I actually don’t usually go for, but I make an exception when it comes to the V. Sattui varieties. If you like dessert wines, be sure to try the sparkling Moscato Frizzante ($26/bottle) and the Madeira, which is a blend of 120-year old port, brandy and Zinfandel ($43/bottle). Both are out of this world.
V. Sattui is the perfect place to buy a bottle of wine and pop it open right then and there to drink with your lunch at the picnic tables outside. Adjacent to the tasting room there’s a deli with 200 cheeses, meats, salads, crackers and dips, and made-to-order panini sandwiches. On weekends in the summer, you can purchase food from the outdoor barbecue, where the winery staff grills up everything from tri-tip steak sandwiches to spicy chicken wings. After your lunch, be sure to wander around the grounds a bit, particularly to check out the underground aging cellars.
We went to a few other wineries on Sunday (the cliff notes: Darioush, stunning, palatial, but rather pricey; Rutherford Hill, rustic, homey, heavy on the reds; and Domaine Chandon, lots of bubbly, lots of fun, lots of crowds), but as always, my hat goes off to V. Sattui. It’s the perfect place to kick back and relax for a few hours, and you may just discover your new favorite wines.
Photo Credit: Sacramento Wine Tours. ‘V. Sattui Winery’ [http://www.sacramentowinetours.com/napa.html].