Beautifully sequestered, Castrucci Vineyards is a petite, delicious gem in the sea of rolling hills and vineyards of Napa Valley. It is located off of South Kelly Road just on the fringe of Napa proper. Today's brilliantly cool weather, with the backdrop of the setting sun is a perfect way to begin tasting.
I've been invited by Dawn Castrucci, the wife of this dynamic duo. We'll taste wines and see how visitors experience their wine destination, first hand. These former East-Coasters are working hard to make this vineyard a true success, uprooting their children, moving hearts & goals cross country to realize this dream. David Castrucci has been in the cycling industry for years. While still involved, he balances the wine business while feeding this dream of creating a rock solid wine company with fastidious roots. These roots are of note because they are the very foundation of the wine labels of each grape of the vineyard. In the land of the Castrucci Vineyards, the roots are and the bedrock are one.
They've enlisted Steve Mathiasson, San Francisco Chronicle's Winemaker of the Year.
As I enter the property, I have to pull over for a moment as I am taken by the breathtaking views. The picturesque setting is right out of a postcard. This modest slice of paradise is surrounded by other vineyards, but it's unique position stands out. The land is hillside and basks in the morning fog while the warmer breezes of the afternoon caress the rows of vines.
While this venture is a dream, business is at the forefront, and strategic alliances have been well thought out. They've entrusted & enlisted none other than Steve Matthiasson, a revered winemaker (San Francisco Chronicle's 2014 Winemaker of the Year ) and consultant who was recently featured in the delightful movie, Somm: Into the Bottle, to make their wines. A decision that has turned out remarkably well as observed when tasting.
The receding sun is kissing the patio while sun beams shine through the lattice.
I've parked my car near their multi-door storage facility and walk up towards the house and well appointed tasting area. This site is laid out perfectly. I can imagine many well attended tastings, and gatherings enjoying the lush green views and the fireplace on cool nights. Immediately I'm at home with the warm greeting of the Castrucci's labrador and rascal poodle. The vibe is relaxed and easy, the table adorned with a bounty fit for a VIP and the wine is open and ready to pour. I can't take my eyes from the table. They encourage me to sit at the head, our warm banter begins. It feels like home.
The fresh notes of pink grapefruit stand out...
The grapes they grow are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We're in the middle of the 10-acre vineyard, literally a crown jewel in South Napa. The receding sun is kissing the patio while sunbeams shine through the lattice. The late afternoon air is cool, a light breeze caresses the hillside. It immediately tells of fog-filled mornings, and a delightful cool microclimate these grapes would love. The hillside is of fractured rock, providing the perfect struggle for the vines, enabling them to eek out the most subtle of soil nuances.
As the wine is poured I take in the four very different vintages. We're starting with the 2014 Rosé of Pinot Noir. The alcohol is slightly higher than most Rosé (12.9%), and its effect on the flavor is indiscernible. Its got a personality of its own and attitude. The fresh notes of pink grapefruit stands out, bright citrus and orange make this a wine of considerable note. Its versatile palate is belied in its delicate hue. This wine is a treasure and a perfect starter for a meal.
We move next to the 2013 Chardonnay. This is a 2016 bronze medal winner in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The nose is tropical, with light citrus and minerality on the palate. The finish is pleasantly light and delightful.
An experience that transcends the typical small winery tasting.
I'm a Pinot Noir lover so I am excited to try their 2014. The dark berries and cassis are brilliant and I detect a mild herbal quality. It is a wonderful complement. This versatile vintage perfectly paired with salmon burgers.
Finally, the 2013 Cabernet, also a San Francisco Chronicle Silver Medal winner. This is a bold blend of aromas and herbs from ripe bursting cherries & raspberries to perhaps mild nuance of eucalyptus. It's a delicious way to wrap up the tasting and this memorable finish leaves me wanting more.
Discussing the profiles of these wines and the theory behind their production it is clear the Castrucci's are most proud of letting the wines speak of the land not interfering with the gifts Mother Nature has provided.
They are part of this very personal and unique experience.
The spirit behind Dawn & David buying this property, the journey of finding a world class winemaker and their dreams for the future are aspects that truly make this winery an exceptional one. What I get from these hardworking & dedicated wine pros is their desire to create an experience that transcends the typical small winery experience. This is a very hands-on approach and the humility, desire to create spectacular wine and their dedication is incredibly apparent. The partnership is one of mutual respect & love.
When talking about all that has gone into this venture, the things that stand out the most are how much they truly care about the product they put out. Intertwine this with their desire to make this experience for their customers a very hands on and personal one on one approach and I know they are headed for success.
One of the most important things they each stress is how much it means not only to provide an experience with personal touch points (they provide a spread and their attention to each and every visitor), but they are part of this very personal and unique experience, together with the wine. The experience of this south Napa winery is intertwined and indelibly important. Mr. Castrucci's determination and love for this venture shines through. His eyes glisten ever so slightly when I ask about how much this means to him.
An unforgettable experience set in a dream of people who truly live the talk they speak.