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Napa Valley

When it Rains it Pours… in Napa Valley

When it Rains it Pours… in Napa Valley

When it Rains it Pours… in Napa Valley

On the first leg of Stefan Pinto's journey through Napa's off-the-beaten-path wineries, he visits Tres Sabores, falls in love with some pups, and indulges in Cab-Sav.

I hate to tell you this, but if you’ve never been to Napa Valley, you’re missing out. Sure, you might be thinking, “Wine… meh… just pour me a (gasp!) Chardonnay.” Honestly, when it comes to wine, there is just so much to know. The good news? You don’t need to know it all, you just need to like what you like (Chardonnay included).

I like Cabs—that’s Cabernet Sauvignon (pronounced CAB — yes, like taxi — err-nay-so-vin-yon). And Napa Valley boasts over 350 varieties, according to Call it “Cabernet Country.” Hey, speaking of varieties, since this is my first column (of nine… so stay with me), let’s start with the basics (You know, I too was once just like you… I would order wine by the glass—based on price. Merlot. No! Thanks Sideways).

Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Pinot (Noir), Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese (pronounced san-gio-VAY-see), etc., are all names of… anyone? Anyone? They are names of grapes! Yep! So, if/when you visit Napa, all of the vines will have a sign telling you which varietal it is. Merlot vines tend to look really big, thick and veiny (Stop. Just stop. I’m referring to grape vines).

Ok, back to the wineries: for the next nine weeks, I’m going to take you on a journey through, what I like to call, “off-the-beaten-path wineries.” These are wineries you’ve probably never heard of—even if you’ve already “been there. Done that.” Some of these wineries are purely family owned. In fact, sometimes the vintners live on the premises. Some are so exclusive, they aren’t open to any additional “wine club members” (more on that later) and some are just downright charming. But most of these I will show you, all have something us men just love… I’m talking about caves and dogs!

Our First Winery:
It’s January and it poured rain in Napa. Why is that important? Well, California hasn’t seen rain since what seems like the 20th Century. So when it rains in California it is important, and when it rains in Napa, it is even more important. Although grape roots don’t mind (they actually prefer) digging deep, deep, deep down into the soil for water, a drought isn’t what you’d want if you own a winery—or any crop. A drought can be expensive! Which reminds me of a joke I heard during my first trip to Napa, “Wanna know how to make a small fortune in a winery? Start with a big fortune.” #LOL.

Incidentally, grapes are usually harvested in September and October. Would rain affect the harvest? Yes and no. It depends on how much rain, when it rains and how much rain it rains when it rains.

So it rained. Like cats and dogs I tell you. Good thing I love dogs, because when you drive up the driveway to Tres Sabores (that means Three Flavors in Spanish), three adorable, golden retrievers will greet you. And, if you’re nice, they’ll follow you around the winery. In fact, and this is a secret, they actually run the place.

The two Goldens, Mousse and Bouzy Rouge (OMG, right?!) have the cutest pup, Cava, and since Goldens tend to grow in a week, by the time you visit, Cava won’t be a pup, so hurry up!

About the Wine and the Winery:
I believe, much like people, a wine’s character is a reflection of where it was raised and Tres Sabores is no exception. I loved their wines! (Their tasting room is the cutest, little Martha Stewart-esque kitchen! Do ask for Melissa). Julie Johnson is the owner and winemaker at Tres Sabores and I thank her for existing.

We tried (I went with a couple I met on Facebook. Seriously)… we tried the Por Qué No? If you like reds, and who doesn’t, this unconventional blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah (it’s spelled “Sirah” only if it is a Petite Sirah), Cabernet and Petit Verdot (why no “e” in that “Petit”? That’s because it’s a French word and it is masculine. I know you’re loving the learning!).

Next up was the 2010 Rutherford Zinfandel. This vintage was allowed to “ferment spontaneously” (use that phrase on your next blind date. I dare you). Aged 21-months with only 500 cases made, AND! AND! Organically grown!

Our third delight was the Cab (Cabernet Sauvignon). Plush and velvety, and yeah, it did taste of dried plums and sweet mixed spices (btw, those are all terms and descriptors that usually the wine maker comes up with. They are purely subjective. And no, the wines aren’t “infused” with raspberry dark chocolate, cigar humidor or grandma’s kitchen during Christmas… some of the terms I’ve seen to describe wines, which I used to wonder “how the hell do they get those flavors in there?!!”

Our final wine (wait, what? Oh, I was just reminded that it was our first wine. The dog ate my notes. Speaking of the order of wines, usually you start light then go dark… you know what they say!) Ok, so our FIRST wine was the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite if I were to drink a white wine). This Sauvignon Blanc is citrusy and refreshing (like most SBs in my OP). It reminded me of a pre-cell phone picnic in Central Park with cool people who enjoy wine and conversation and not “how many likes did my pic of me enjoying wine in Central Park get?”

So there you have it! Enjoy the pics of what I saw at Tres Sabores, and visit their website

The wines we tried are here.

Next week, we visit Beth, my new BFF at Checkerboard. Come back for the info, but don’t plan on signing up for their wine club… they have a waiting list! Yeah, yeah, I know some of you like the sound of that.

So stick around.

Read my bio and send me a message with questions, comments, concerns, lavish trips, gifts, links to my Amazon Wish List, etc. I’m open. Smiley face.

About the Author:
Stefan Pinto used to be overweight. After losing 60lbs, he was discovered by a model scout in a Miami Whole Foods while buying a turkey wrap. He enjoys taking photographs, “sometimes more than being photographed” he told us here. In 2007, he spent one week on expedition with National Geographic in Oaxaca, Mexico. Follow him on Facebook or on Instagram where he posts a lot of selfies! (We’re not too sure about that “not being photographed” reference. Wink).

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