A Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting on Spring Mountain

A Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting on Spring Mountain

So you have decided to go on a wine tasting adventure on Spring Mountain? Well, this is the perfect moment to visit St.Helena because the wineries are preparing their vineyards for the growing season, and the fruits are blossoming too. This simple guide will help you understand the types of tastings, establish a tasting fee budget and the wineries and vineyards to visit on Spring Mountain.

Make Wine Tasting Reservations

Many wineries within the Spring Mountain region are smaller family-owned wineries and require reservations. Remember to make reservations well in advance based on the what types of wineries you would like to visit. For example, if you want to taste big reds then select two to three wineries to visit that produce the varietal you’d like to sample.

Determine Your Wine Tasting Fee Budget

One of the things to consider when making reservations is your tasting fee budget. Be sure to ask if the tasting fee is deducted from any wine purchased while on your visit. Tasting fees can range from $30+ per person, and may also depend on the type of tasting experience you prefer. For example, some wineries have different levels of tasting experiences. To taste library or reserve wines or for a private exclusive experience, expect to pay a higher fee.

Wear Comfortable Shoes for Wine Tasting

When visiting local wineries, you’ll often have a chance to explore the grounds and tour the estates. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Layers also help depending on the season you choose to visit.

Bring Extra Water When Wine Tasting

Be sure to have extra bottles of water in your car or in the car service.

Clear Out Your Trunk When You Go Wine Tasting

You’ll want the extra room in case you decided to come home with a case or two of your soon-to-be favorite wine.

Pack a Lunch or Have One Delivered

If you schedule a wine tasting during the lunch hour, be sure to pack a lunch or have one delivered. Check with the winery to ensure there is a space for you to relax and enjoy your meal while tasting their wines.

Designate a Driver or Hire a Car Service

The last step is deciding on a driver who will drive you to the wineries on Spring Mountain Road. You can either have a designated driver or hire a local car service.

Visit us on Spring Mountain and taste our Sherwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and our Cellar Scraps. Our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is full bodied with a beautiful bouquet; an excellent example of what Spring Mountain reds have to offer. Our Cellar Scraps is a fun blend of our Cabernets across different vintages, which makes for a unique experience every year. We look forward to seeing you!

 

Wine Appreciation 101

Wine Appreciation 101

Just beyond Saint Helena is a wet and cool appellation that is known for producing premium wine. Spring Mountain AVA produces varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Franc, along with other Bordeaux varietals. If you are a wine aficionado or would just like to learn more how to appreciate wine, read our tips below.

Wine Appreciation 101

Appearance

You can tell the color of wine by angling your glass against a white background. The amount of opacity for reds gives clues to the grape variety and aging process used; wood cask aged wines have a deeper hue. Other characteristics that affect the color of different wine varieties include vintage, acidity, and balance. Appearance and aromatics are the first wine assessing determiners before you take a sip since a red can be deep or intense while white and sweet wines tend to be dense.

Aromatics

The essential components of wine are its bouquet. The bouquet reveals information such as faults by oxidation due to age, overexposure to oxygen, cork taint or the lack of preservatives. Does it smell okay? Does it smell metallic? Does it smell like caramel and crème? Does it smell funky?

Taste

Tasting means getting all the four steps of wine appreciation down through appearance, wine in glass aroma, wine in mouth sensations and the finish or aftertaste. When you sip, the wine reacts with the heat of your mouth, and the flavors are nasally transported to the olfactory nerve receptor. This complex characteristic of wine begins here, at the base of the nose where you determine its clarity, expressiveness, complexity, varietal character, connectedness, and integration.

Does it seem balanced? Is it acidic? Is it sweet? Can you pick out any distinct fruits or other flavors?

Finish or Aftertaste

Expressiveness means that its aromas are clearly projected and well defined which depends on how the flavor multiplies on your palate.

Try swirling your wine glass, doing so gently exposes it to more oxygen, releasing the overall bouquet. Now how does it taste? Are you able to pick up additional flavors?

Every wine bottle holds an aromatic tale and tells a story of passionate labor and deep love for the vine.  There is no right or wrong way to appreciate wine as each palate is different.  If you don’t like a particular taste or bottle, pour it out and try again.

Visit us on Spring Mountain and taste our Sherwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and our Cellar Scraps. Our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is full bodied with a beautiful bouquet; an excellent example of what Spring Mountain reds have to offer. Our Cellar Scraps is a fun blend of our Cabernets across different vintages, which makes for a unique experience every year.  We look forward to seeing you!

 

Reds of Spring Mountain

Reds of Spring Mountain

The Reds of Spring Mountain AVA

Red wine when taken in moderation can be healthy and useful for your heart. The antioxidants and alcohol present in red wine may help prevent coronary artery disease. While, the relationship is not well understood we know that antioxidants may cause an increase in our 'good' cholesterol which plays a huge role in protecting against cholesterol buildup.

Fortunately, there are many varietals of red to choose from in Spring Mountain. With Valentine's day coming up consider visiting Spring Mountain and experience one of the many reds in our district. Before you head, be sure to check on availability as many vineyards on Spring Mountain require reservations and if you plan to make a whole day of it, consider ordering take out from Dean and Delucca.

Spring Mountain Red Wines You Need to Try

Pride Mountain Vineyards – Syrah. Pride Mountain Vineyards graces the summit of Spring Mountain. The Syrah is considered an insider favorite that is lush with a flavor profile that includes blackberry coulis, cardamom and bacon fat.

Schweiger Vineyards  - Merlot.  Schweiger Vineyards is the family-owned winery notable for its red wines. Their merlot is intense and brings forth layers of complex flavors on the palate.

Barnett Vineyards – Spring Mountain District Merlot. Barnett is our neighbor down the road who focuses on Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In addition, they produce small amounts of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Their Merlot Spring Mountain District is a rich purple with hints of blueberries and chocolate.

Keenan Winery – Mernet. The Mernet is Keenan’s proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. A highly awarded wine, their 2015 was rated 93+, this blend is robust, balanced and full-bodied.

Vineyard 7&8 – Estate Chardonnay. Perched 2,020 feet above the Napa Valley floor, Vineyard 7&8 produces Estate Chardonnay and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The most recent, the 2016 Estate Chardonnay is bright with aromatic notes of fruit and crème brûlée.

Before you head back down Spring Mountain, visit us and taste our Sherwin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and our Cellar Scraps. Our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is lush and dark presenting a beautiful example of what Spring Mountain reds have to offer. Our Cellar Scraps is a fun blend of our Cabernets across different vintages, which makes for a unique experience every year.  We look forward to seeing you!

 

Winter Wine Pairings

Winter Wine Pairings

Winter Wine Pairings

Winter in Spring Mountain usually means high rainfall at levels that may reach 25-95 inches (about 240cm). For perspective, January 2017 was a mild winter which caused bud break earlier than expected. In 2018, cold temperatures were sustained, and the bud break came as normal, in March. For 2019, more cold weather is expected, promising a normal bud break and bountiful harvest.

Winter is synonymous with comfort and what could be more comforting than pairing a lovely glass of wine with your next meal?  Here are our favorite wine and food pairings.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Augment any meat dish with a splash or two of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Dishes such as braised short ribs, meatballs, duck and even a salad! A spicy green based salad, such as arugula, match well with a bold Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chardonnay

Pair Chardonnays with fatty fish such as salmon or rich creamy sauces.

Rosé

Rosés represent neutral drinking territory when paired with cheese. They have the acidity of whites and fruit flavors of red.

Red Blends

With reds, we recommend going with the predominant varietal in the mix. For instance, if your red blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon then pour yourself a glass with your next burger.  If your blend is mostly Pinot Noir, then you might enjoy it most with a fig and truffle pizza. Mostly Malbec? Warm up your barbecue sauce, fire up your grill and enjoy it with your next barbecue.


Besides pairing your wine with your favorite winter meal, winter is also a great time to visit Spring Mountain District AVA. Winter is usually a little bit slower, relaxed and less crowded. Schedule your visit to Sherwin Family Vineyards and taste our award-winning wines to pair with your next winter dish.

4 Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers

4 Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers

The holiday season is upon us, and as wine lovers we're looking forward to celebrating with family and friends. This year, we’ve decided to put together a list of fun and unique gifts for the wine aficionado in your life. From individual bottles and wine gift baskets to accessories, games and experiences, any one of these items will make you look like a gift-giving guru.

1. Aervana Wine Aerator

The Aervana Wine Aerator is the perfect way to allow your loved ones to get the most out of each bottle of wine they open. Aervana makes aerating simple, the way it should be, requiring that the user do no more than push a button before enjoying fresh, well-aerated wine. In comparison to other aerators, the Aervana provides a higher level of oxidation, and does so at a quicker rate while keeping sediment at the bottom of the bottle as an added bonus.

2. Wine Infused Coffee

Wine infused coffee from Cooper’s Cask serves as a delicious after meal pick me up, or morning kick. What better way to curb your separation anxiety from wine, than to think of it, every time you take a sip of coffee.

3. Wine Games

If you are a fan of board/trivia games, then try ChardonnayGo, Winewars or Winerd. If you prefer to be outside, give a scavenger hunt gift and take your giftee(s) up to Napa.  From downtown Napa you can complete a set of clues and learn more about the city from scavengerhunt.com.

4. Sherwin Family’s Flag Bottle Gift Pack

Our flag bottle gift pack comes with two etched Reidel glasses and is sure to impress the wine lover in your life.

Sherwin Family Vineyards proudly produces award-winning wines including our estate cabernet sauvignon.  We are also the only producer of the Patriotic Pour.  Come relax on our vineyard terrace and sample our wines on your next visit. To schedule a tasting please contact us or book online here.

Harvest in Spring Mountain District AVA

Harvest in Spring Mountain District AVA

It is Harvest time in Spring Mountain District AVA!  Harvest typically runs from early August thru October, depending on the varietal and weather. Nearing harvest time, winemakers taste and test grapes to determine when the vineyard is ready to pick. Veraison is an exciting time for the whole team at Sherwin Family Vineyards.  Berries develop quickly and the key to excellent winemaking is to pick the berries at the optimal time; ensuring acidity, sweetness and flavor of the wine.

Picking and Sorting

Our team gets to work as soon as it is determined that the berries are ready to pick. Each of our varietals has different qualities that need to be met before picking. While some wineries machine harvest and sort their grapes, we hand pick and sort ours to ensure top quality.

Crushing and Pressing

Moving quickly to avoid contamination and early fermentation, the grapes are now ready to crush and press. Pressing is referred to the process of mechanically pressing red grapes into the must that contains skins, seeds and stems that is further used to give red wine the tannin, flavor and color it needs. Crush is referred to the process of crushing white grapes quickly and separating the skins, seeds and stems before color and tannin are affected.

Fermentation

The fermentation process comes next, giving winemakers just enough of a break beforehand to process other incoming grapes. While grapes contain wild yeasts naturally and begin fermenting on their own, winemakers intervene with their choice of commercial cultured Saccharomyces Cerevisiae yeast. Each strain of yeast gives off different by products, allowing wines to showcase their best traits and downplay their worst. White wines and sweet wines take about 10 days to two weeks to complete fermentation and are occasionally manually stopped from completing the fermentation process to get the desired sweetness. Red wines can take up to a month to complete this process.

Clarification

Once fermentation is completed, the process of clarifying and racking begins. Different machines can be used in order to get different degrees of clarification. Dead yeast, proteins, stems, tannins and impurities are filtered out of the wine. You will notice some wines, mostly reds, tend to have tartaric acids crystals or a residue on the cork and at the bottom of the bottle. No need to fear, this is naturally occurring and can help wines age and maintain quality. The wine is now racked into barrels or tanks to further age.

 

Harvest in Spring Mountain District AVA is the most important (and busiest) time of year for winemakers and it determines the quality of your wine. Timing, speed and accuracy are key roles to any successful harvest. In addition to the many fall events happening near us, fall is an excellent time to visit us for a tasting.

Fall Season near Spring Mountain, St. Helena

Fall Season near Spring Mountain, St. Helena

On your next day trip to a spring mountain winery, be sure to extend your stay and check out these other options below.  The suggestions provided here are only a fraction of what you can find to do and experience while you are in Napa Valley.

Dining in Napa Valley

In addition to being famous for its wines, Napa Valley is also home to an assortment of excellent dining options. The options we have highlighted here are among the best dining establishments in the valley.

  • Breakfast - Excellent breakfast options are available at both ends of the valley. Yountville's Bouchon Bakery and Restaurant is noted for its excellent breakfast pastries and coffee. The restaurant is right next door to the bakery is a great brunch option.  Another brunch option is the Acacia House in Saint Helena, which features breakfast daily.
  • Lunch - Roughly midway between Napa and Calistoga, you'll find Oakville Grocery. They serve deli sandwiches among other fare. Sunshine Foods Market in Saint Helena is another option for a quick bite to eat.
  • Dinner - For an amazing dinner experience, reserve a table at Press RestaurantBrasswood or The Charter Oak. Press is a modern steakhouse featuring locally sourced ingredients.  Brasswood serves farm to table comfort food.  The Charter Oak offers a family-style dining experience to be enjoyed.
  • Dessert - If you are looking for a place to satisfy your sweet tooth in Napa Valley, Woodhouse Chocolates and Dean and Deluca are your best choices.

Fine Arts and Entertainment

Fall is a great time to take a day trip to wine country. In addition to the many harvest celebrations, you can learn how to make greek yogurt, attend a fundraising dinner for Camp Silverado, and learn how to taste and evaluate wine!  The St. Helena event calendar has information on any of these events and more!

Explore Parks

Calistoga’s Petrified Forest is a treasure trove of ancient redwoods which were transformed by a volcano over 3 million years ago. South of Napa, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to an amazing array of plants and animals and features activities such as canoeing, hiking, fishing, and more.

Views from the Sky

If taking a ride in a hot air balloon is on your bucket list, visit Napa Valley Aloft or Calistoga Balloons and check it off your bucket list. They offer special packages, too!

Wine Tasting and Tours

There are wineries scattered throughout Napa Valley, providing ample opportunity for wine tours. Squire Livery Tours offers small tours where you can select the wineries or let them guide you to some hidden gems. Napa Valley Wine Train has tours available all summer long, including an exclusive July 4th excursion. For a party atmosphere, try the Fiesta Italiana at V. Sattui Winery, where wine, food, music, and dancing come together in a memorable experience.

Spend a Day on Spring Mountain

Be sure to schedule a tour of Sherwin Family Vineyards and other Spring Mountain AVA wineries while you are here. Fall is a perfect time to get out and explore Spring Mountain.

5 Spring Mountain Day Trips

5 Spring Mountain Day Trips

Spring Mountain day trips are for everyone. Whether you are looking for a fine culinary experience, attending one of the numerous events in St. Helena, or simply looking for a day of fun and sun, there is an exciting day’s adventure waiting on your arrival.

Spring Mountain is for Food Lovers

  • Breakfast at Gillwood’s Cafe is a good way to start your day. Eggs are available any way you like them, but there are a plethora of breakfast options, including pancakes and waffles, oatmeal, and fruit plates.
  • For the best meal on the go, stop by Gott’s Roadside for lunch. A St. Helena original, Gott’s has built a reputation for the best lunch using the freshest products, combined with a love for quality beers and wines.
  • Fine dining at Gatehouse Restaurant is an excellent way to cap off a day trip to Spring Mountain. Dishes are prepared with regionally grown ingredients as well as those grown at the CIA farm itself.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth anytime at Woodhouse Chocolate. Enjoy handmade, European-style chocolates and confections prepared in an 1890’s stone and brick building. Exquisitely crafted chocolate and caramel creations in this style are a rare treat to find.

Attend Exciting Spring Mountain Events

  • Meet the Farmers at St. Helena Farmers Market. Spring Mountain AVA is home to farms of all types, and seasonal produce is available every Friday from May to October.
  • Harvest is a fun and exciting time to visit.  Be sure to check the St. Helena event calendar and discover harvest parties, dinners and more!

Get Back to Nature

  • California is known for their quality state parks, and the Boothe-Napa Valley State Park near Spring Mountain is no exception. There are nearly a dozen miles of hiking trails available, each lined with ferns and other flora associated with the Napa Valley. An early hike is an invigorating way to start your day, and there’s a pool available to cool off after the hike is complete.

Take a Leisurely Bike and Wine Tour

  • The Calistoga Bike Shop offers cycling tours designed for group sizes ranging from couples to teams. Enjoy a relaxed ride on mostly flat surfaces as you visit local wineries. This day-long excursion is exciting on many levels, and a picnic lunch at one of the wineries is on the itinerary.

Spend a day at Sherwin Family Vineyards

There is a lot to take in when you visit our vineyard and winery. The summer months tend to be a little more relaxed, allowing time to enjoy the view, and sample some of our favorite vintages. We would love to meet you and offer some of our local hospitality, so make sure that Sherwin Family Vineyards is part of your day of wine tasting on Spring Mountain.

Outdoor Activities near Spring Mountain, St. Helena

Outdoor Activities near Spring Mountain, St. Helena

The Spring Mountain District AVA and the surrounding Napa Valley brings in hundreds of thousands of tourists each year to explore wine country. After spending a morning or afternoon learning more about some of your favorite small vintners, you'll want to stretch your legs and explore some of the most beautiful land in California. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your time in St. Helena.

Outdoor Activities Near Spring Mountain, St. Helena

1. Rent a Bicycle. St. Helena is not a large city geographically, so a bike is a great way to become familiar with the local stores, restaurants and other attractions. In St. Helena, there's plenty of hills and curves to keep the ride interesting, while down in the Valley, you get a more relaxing ride.

2. Picnic in the Park. Take along a bottle of your favorite local wine and head to Crane Park on a sunny afternoon. Playgrounds, bocce courts, tennis courts, volleyball nets and picnic spots abound, so you can enjoy the weather and a relaxing day burning off some excess energy.

3. Hiking Oat Hill Mine. For an all day adventure in the mountains, enjoy an exciting walk along the old stage couch route the Oat Hill Mine Trail. The 8.3 miles of dirt track are surrounded by stunning vistas of the peaks and forests below. Watching the sun move across the sky, lighting up the mountains and valley is an unforgettable experience. If you want a more gentle adventure, you can always turn back at the base of the Palisades. It is a natural halfway point that lets you experience all of nature's wonder.

4. Camp on Spring Mountain. The Bothe-Napa Valley State Park sits virtually on Spring Mountain, with all of the views and natural beauty of the local scenery. Camping is available if setting up for a night under the stars sounds like a romantic way to spend a weekend, and day trips are always welcome. Hiking trails lead you past stands of redwood trees and a variety of firs. Don't forget your swimming gear since the pool is open during the summer season. Pack a fun picnic with a few delicious local wine pairings and soak up the sites as you sip on your bounty.

5. Explore the Mount St. Helena Trail. The challenging Mount St. Helena Trail is 9.3 miles of some fairly tough hiking, but the view from the top might even have you forgetting to break out the wine. The mountain top reaches 4,342 feet, giving you an unparalleled view of the flower covered slopes. You'll climb nearly 2100 feet during the hike, but it is all on a wide dirt track, so no worries about getting lost or breaking new ground.

Romantic Adventures Near Spring Mountain, St. Helena

1. Balloon Accessions. Take an hour or two near sunset to appreciate a bird's eye view of the Valley laid out before you from up high in the sky. With all the noise and activity left behind, you and your significant other can enjoy the serene beauty of floating above mountains, lakes, rivers and more.

2. Saunter up the Napa River and Bay Trail. Romantic views and scenic overlooks are part of the fun along the Napa River and Bay Trail. Walking hand-in-hand as you take in the wonderful views is more than just romantic, it's dreamy and charming as you watch the sunset go down on another great vacation day.

3. Tour the Culinary Institutes of America Campus. Combine a romantic meal with some shopping for your kitchen at this non-profit school that has turned out some world-renowned chefs. Tasting plates and nibbles keep you satisfied without weighing you down as you explore everything the campus has to offer.

4. Tour a Tuscan Castle. You won't need to visit Tuscany to see a castle with that style of architecture. St. Helena has its very own example. General admission tickets are available, and nothing says romance like a classic Tuscan castle.

Whether your next trip to the Spring Mountain District AVA is for business or pleasure, there are plenty of outdoor activities to round out your trip.  Be sure to schedule a visit to Sherwin Family Vineyards and taste our award winning estate cabernet on your next visit.

Spring Mountain Varietals

Spring Mountain Varietals

There's nothing like sitting back with a great meal and enjoying a lush, vibrant and flavorful glass of wine at the end of a long day. If there is a particular type of spring mountain varietal you would like to enjoy, your options include everything from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. White wines come from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. All of these varietals do well on the partly shaded slopes of the mountains surrounding Napa Valley. The most popular Spring Mountain varietals are the deep reds of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, followed by white wines like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the most well-known varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have black, tough skins that make them very hardy. Expect to see fields full of Cabernet Sauvignon anywhere they make reds. The lush aromas of vanilla and currant are part of this wine's tasting experience, paired with a medium body and hard tannins. When sipping on a wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon, you might taste anything from mint to bell pepper, depending on the ripeness of the grapes at harvest. Pair your bottle with a meat course, cheese course or any rich, creamy sauce.

Merlot

Merlot vines also produce black grapes that create a smooth, low tannin wine that is a great choice when developing your palate. The clean, herbal aroma conceals luxurious flavors of chocolate, plum and black cherry, all wrapped up in a medium body wine with smooth acidity. Try a fruity and flavorful merlot the next time you enjoy a fish dish, or you're in the mood for some Spanish cuisine.

Chardonnay

If you enjoy a bit of the bubbly now and again, you've probably already enjoyed Chardonnay grapes. The white skins lead to a pale or golden colored wine, and the fruit grows on a particularly hardy vine, making it one of the most popular white varietals. In addition to its ability to grow in a range of climates, chardonnay grapes also take on flavors quickly, easily and completely. Two different growers can produce very different versions of Chardonnay, even when the grape varietal is the same. You'll enjoy everything from toast to pineapple in the aroma of a Chardonnay.

Sauvignon Blanc

California-made Sauvignon Blanc tends to bring out the best of the fruity aromas and flavors in this white grape varietal. While very few Spring Mountain wineries produce Sauvignon Blanc, those that do offer a light, crisply acidic version that goes well with the fresh and vibrant produce of the area.

To enjoy the crisp white varietals, be sure to visit Spring Mountain earlier in the season. This is when most producers harvest their white grapes. For the more full-bodied reds, come back towards the end of the harvest season. Cabernet Sauvignon is often one of the last varietals to reach harvest and start the long process of becoming a rich, smooth and enjoyable bottle of wine.

Sherwin Family Vineyards proudly produces award winning wines including our estate cabernet sauvignon.  We are also the only producer of the Patriotic Pour.  Come relax on our vineyard terrace and sample our wines on your next visit. To schedule a tasting please contact us or book online here.

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