A visit to Spring Mountain Vineyard

Spring Mountain Vineyard Winery

Spring Mountain Winery Caves

Inside Spring Mountain Vineyard Winery

Villa Miravelle

Inside Villa Miravelle

Inside Villa Miravelle

Four vintage tasting

Villa Miravelle Patio

Pool at Villa Miravelle

In front of Villa Miravelle

Stained glass windows inside Spring Mountain Winery

Sweeping mountain top vineyards, impressive caves, exotic gardens, a historic mansion, and superb wines; after my visit to Spring Mountain Vineyard I could completely see why Wine Spectator called this a “Must See”.

I was met by Lindsay, one of the winery’s seasoned wine educators. On the day I visited I had the winery to myself, making my experience even more special. (Appointments are mandatory at Spring Mountain Vineyard) We started with a taste of Sauvignon Blanc as Lindsay pointed to the vineyards around us and explained the French-style wines and history of the estate.

Spring Mountain Vineyard is a fairly large estate (845 acres) with a long history.  The estate is made up from what were four separate properties and two ghost wineries dating back to the late 1800s. The caves are certainly a talking point. Lindsay explained that they were carved by Chinese workers in the 1880s, and that during this time the estate owner, Tiburcio Parrott, was instrumental in overturning the Chinese Exclusion Act that prohibited California businesses from employing Chinese.  It is incredible to think that these huge tunnels and caves were chipped by hand.

I learned that sustainability is also big focus here. Birdhouses provide habitat for bluebirds that eat vineyard pests, eliminating the need for pesticides. Sheep are brought in to graze on grasses between the vine rows, eliminating the use of herbicides or machines.

The wow factor for me was the historic mansion (Villa Miravelle).  Surrounded by towering palm trees (a sign of wealth in those days), the mansion is a stately and glamorous lady in perfect condition.  (And for those of you who watched Falcon Crest in the 80s you will already be familiar with it inside and out from the show)

Lindsay showed to one of the front rooms with a long kitchen table, elegant chandelier and cozy fireplace.  It felt more like visiting a wealthy relative’s home.  For each group she personally selects the wine, which today told the story of Napa Valley’s climate through four vintages.

The wines, presentation and detailed explanations provided by Lindsay were excellent. I tasted the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 and 2005 Elivette. The wines were perfectly balanced examples of what Napa Valley grapes can do when blended in a Bordeaux style.  The winery is not short on 90+ point scores or industry recognition. This year Decanter rated the Spring Mountain Vineyard 2010 Elivette as the best “Bordeaux blend in America”.

Spring Mountain Vineyard offers a sophisticated, personalized experience I’d recommend for Cabernet and Bordeaux fans that are looking for something extraordinary and slightly more in-depth.

Expert tips:

  • Allocate at least two hours for your visit
  • Plan to reserve your tasting at least 48 hours in advance, more on weekends
  • When you call for an appointment let the winery know if you have any specific interests so they can plan ahead

WineryCritic Ratings

9/10 Overall visitor experience

9/10 Knowledge of guide

9/10 Location

10/10 Architecture and design, landscaping

8/10 Other experiences: Various tastings depending on wine interests

N/A Knowledge of tasting room staff (appointment only, no public tasting room)

9/10 Friendliness of staff

9/10 Signage & ease of access

10/10 Quality of the wines poured

Appointment required:  Yes

Address:   2805 Spring Mountain Rd, St Helena, CA 94574

www.springmountainvineyard.com

Tasting fees & experiences:

  • Estate Tasting: New releases and one library selection. $50 per guest (waived with a purchase of $150 or more per guest). 11:00, 1:00 or 3:00.
  • Library Vertical Tasting: Vertical selection of Cabernet Sauvignon. $75 per guest (waived with a purchase of $175 or more per guest). 11:00, 1:00 or 3:00

Good for:  Cabernet & Bordeaux fans, garden & architectural lovers, history buffs

Wines produced:  Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Bordeaux blends (Elivette label)

What’s nearby: St Helena, Charbay Winery & Distillery, Beringer Vineyards, Pride Mountain Vineyards

District/Appellation: St. Helena, Napa Valley

Contact for appointments:  Please make appointments 24 hours advance.  Call (877) 769-4637 or (707) 967-4188 between 8am and 5pm (PST), or complete the website form.

Date of visit: October 23, 2013

E-mail: mindy@winerycritic.com