Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Premiere Napa Valley 2017: First-Day activities

Premiere Napa Valley (PNV) is the Napa Valley Vintners annual, invitation-only, barrel auction for wine retailers, wholesalers, restaurateurs, and members of the press.  Auction proceeds go towards the trade association's promotional and other activities on behalf of valley winemakers. The 2017 edition of event concluded on Saturday last with the barrel auction at Greystone which raised a total of $4.2 million. 

For many attendees, time spent with winery owners and winemakers prior to the start of the officially sanctioned events is a critically important aspect of the week's activities. I arrived in Yountville on the Tuesday of the week and, shortly after depositing my luggage at the hotel, hightailed it over to Oakville to meet up with the Wine on the Way team for a walkthrough of the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard. This visit had been organized by Tor Kenward — Tor Kenward Family Vineyards —  both as a gesture to his good friend Adam Chilvers — proprietor of Wine on the Way — and as a reward to the team for purchasing the TOR PNV lot in the prior year.

The intersection just prior to the Oakville Grocery (as you head towards St. Helena on Highway 29) is called Walnut Drive. If you turn left into Walnut Drive from Highway 29, Beckstoffer To Kalon is to your right. We gathered at the first path on the right to begin our walk through the vineyard. It was rainy and somewhat cold but the excitement of the moment overrode any discomfort brought on by the elements. Once Andy showed up, we embarked on what turned out to be an intriguing and exciting tour and discussion. I will cover the trip in greater detail in a subsequent post.

Andy Beckstoffer (3rd from left) and Tor Kenward (2nd from
right) were our hosts on the tour of the To Kalon Vineyard
At the conclusion of the tour, we drove to Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen for lunch and a promised treat from Tor of tasting a range of his 2015 barrel samples. Shortly after we settled in, Tor pulled out clear bottles of his 2015 To Kalon Cabernet, Oakville Propriety Blend,  and Black Magic, a Cabernet Sauvignon that is only produced in special years. These wines were all loaded with promise. Tor also brought along a bottle of his 2012 Beckstoffer To Kalon and a bottle of a 2004 wine that he had made while still an employee at Beringer. 

After a long, leisurely lunch we traveled up to Pritchard Hill to visit the Colgin IX estate, a 20-acre vineyard located on the upper reaches of the famed Pritchard Hill. While on the way up we gained an impressive reminder of the current water state of the region as demonstrated by the release of water from Lake Hennessey through a highly active spillway.

Later that evening I was a guest at the Wine on the Way BYOB party, a party famous both for the wines that are opened as well as the attendee list. This is a great annual event that is held at the home that the group rents for PNV week. My wife and I had so much fun that we were among the last to leave. Guests included Donald Patz (Patz and Hall), Robin Lail (Lail Vineyards), Sam Kaplan (Arkenstone), and Michelle Baguette (Alpha Omega) among others.

Photo credit: Erin Shay

So by the end of the first day, I had collected material for three blog posts and had made a number of contacts/tentative arrangements for future winery visits.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

1 comment:

  1. Great article – makes me feel like I am there. Thanks for sharing, and I hope to visit one day!