Nestled on Spring Mountain over the Napa Valley you will find Pride Wines. Arriving into the Napa Valley is a daunting experience to say the least. Grapevines line the lush landscape with large and ornate buildings housing numerous wineries where you can not only enjoy a wine tasting but also a number of incredible art exhibitions.
On arriving in the Napa Valley we were completely overwhelmed with the sheer volume of places to visit. So much so that we decided to hit our Lonely Planet guide for the first time on our trip. Lonely Planet recommends Pride Wines as did our tour company The American Road Trip Company. Two recommendations and a couple of tweets later we were booked in for the following day.
The drive up to Pride Wines is spectacular with some very windy roads and the winery itself sits on the county line of Sonoma and Napa. In fact, there is a visible line on the floor where the county line meets and the winery has to declare the wine grown on each county separately. I’d have taken a photo of the line had I not let out a squeal of excited wine geekery at seeing grapes being crushed straight from the vineyard.
I love seeing where produce comes from and as a lover of wine this made my day. Living in England means this isn’t something we see very often. Yes we have some good wines being made here but they are predominantly in the South of the country and I haven’t managed to get down there yet to witness the process for myself.
We started the tour meeting our guide Jason and sampling a particularly good viognier. Fairly dark in colour the viognier had a wonderful apricot aroma whilst citrus notes were present on the palate with a lightly oaked finish. I’d have been perfectly happy to relax with the rest of the bottle but duty calls and a tour of the wine caves beckoned. And yes I was overly excited at the prospect.
As we wandered the candlelit caves lined by barrels Jason talked about Pride Mountain, the different vintages and how the different soil samples across the Napa Valley create such different and interesting wines. I listened but I have to say I was distracted by the staff filling the barrels and moving them to their resting place. Not in a negative way I’d like to add, it was truly fascinating to watch a working winery in action and see just how much of this is prepared by hand. Prior to starting this blog I was the sort of person who was happy with a 3 for £10 deal on wine at Asda. Obviously times have changed and I now source my wine in different ways but the hard work that goes into this process shows just where your money goes when investing in a good quality wine. Pride Mountain wine was in fact served during Christmas dinner at the White House, well if it is good enough for Mr Obama….
The weather has a huge effect on the grapes and how they grow. Jason demonstrated this by letting us try two cabernet sauvignon wines from different years. Until this point I had never really considered the year of growing too much but wow, there was a marked difference. The first was light, fruity with little tannin whilst the second was so dark you couldn’t see through it when holding it to the light. The tannins were much more pronounced and there were more spicy notes at the back of the throat. Both beautiful and the group were divided in their opinion of favourites. I preferred the second with most opting for the first. Jason discussed 2014 and believes, when the wine is ready to be drank, it’ll be an exceptional one due to warm weather with a little rain to keep things going nicely.
As we walked the wine caves we could hear music wafting through the tunnels and Jason explained the staff took it in turns to decide what they were going to play that day. He talked about Sally Johnson who is the wine maker here and responsible for blending the grapes to create the perfect tasting wine, a job which may sound fun but I can imagine is incredibly hard work at the same time.
Jason let us drop by the VIP tasting room to see the views of the vineyards from the terrace and then ushered us back into the main tasting room to try a very special brandy infused dessert wine.
As we bid farewell Jason encouraged us to have a look around the grounds and take in the sheer beauty of this stunning mountain top location. We had bought cakes earlier in the day so found the most beautiful picnic spot next to an old building to enjoy them. The end to a perfect afternoon where we were introduced to some particularly stonking wines. My only disappointment is that, as far as I am aware, Pride Mountain wines can’t be bought in the UK. As you can imagine it is now my duty to try and change that.
Tours cost $25 and last around an hour. You need to book in advance but can do so via email on the Pride Wines website.
Address: 4026 Spring Mountain Road, St Helena, CA, 94574.
Massive thanks to Sally for sorting this tasting and tour for us at such short notice. We weren’t asked to pay for our tour however that has not affected my opinion of this incredible place.