Just a few weeks ago I had the fantastic opportunity to visit Jessup and Napa Valley yet again! My thesis statement for the weekend (my English teachers would be so proud): Jessup Cellars wraps you up in a big hug and adopts you right into their wine family! To fill you in on my fabulous weekend with Jessup, here is my Top 10 List:
10. Napa is relaxing. I arrived in Napa fresh from 17 days traveling for work (I’m an event planner who works on corporate events). After waking up to this view at the Napa Valley Lodge, I realized that a trip to Napa can cure just about anything! So that’s my call to you to pack your bags and head on out.
9. Foodie heaven. Napa, Yountville, Sonoma, they all have such fantastic restaurants. Not only do I like to drink wine, but I like to eat. So with the help of the Jessup team, we experienced some great foodie favorites while we were in town. Friday night after I arrived, I had dinner at Bottega, just a stone’s throw away from the hotel. I had eaten here with my husband when we visited in September, and I have to admit, I mostly ate here just to make him jealous (whoops J). But it was fantastic to be able to walk in and enjoy a meal at the bar. One order of house cured organic Prosciutto, pasta fritta and zuppa di melone followed by Potato dough ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, black truffles, farm fresh egg yolk, and sage browned butter later I was headed “home” to enjoy a glass of Jessup Cellars Pinot Noir and hit the hay. We were also lucky enough to try Boon Fly Café, Gott’s Roadside and Farmstead Restaurant.
8. Technology meets wine. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m no wine expert. I like wine and I love the experience of wine, but I can’t recite the very scientific and artistic process by which it is made. Scott and I were lucky enough to have a behind the scenes tour with Executive Winemaker Rob Lloyd where we learned that they continue to acquire (and even develop) new technologies that allow them to produce better wine.
7. The art of wine making. Continuing on our tour with Rob (because it was really just too awesome for one bullet point), we were able to see the barrel storage where all of the delicious future Jessup wine is aged. This is where I think my full understanding of the art of wine making started to develop. We discussed the different vessels you can use for aging. Do you choose French oak barrels or American oak barrels (the former creates a taste in the wine of vanilla and spices while the latter has more herbaceous notes)? Do you use new barrels or barrels that are 1-2 years old? Do you split your cabernet sauvignon grapes and age some one way and some another? The sheer understanding of the art of doing this and then blending to create the perfect bottle is what inspires me the most about wine. With every sip of a great bottle, you know that years and years of care and thought is being translated to your taste buds. It is the soul of a vineyard (or a wine family) in your glass.
6. Tasting the future. We were also able to taste some soon-to-be Jessup wine straight from the barrel. I thought during this whole process that I would be intimidated to talk to the Jessup team, especially Rob, but everyone is so passionate about this process that it makes it so easy to ask questions and to share and learn more. As for the barrel tasting, all I can say is you better be on the lookout in a few years because what is coming is even better (if that is possible) than what is available now!
4. Blend your own wine! Jessup is going to begin offering a fabulous new program that will let you come to their wine-making facility and blend your own wine! Scott and I were among the first to try this great new activity and I can tell you it is such a great experience! Each guest is given a sheet of paper explaining four varietals that are in the bottles before them – we used two varieties of cabernet sauvignon, a cab franc and a petite sirah. The tasting glass in front of you is equipped with a funnel and you simple blend to your heart’s content. And that is the best part! What tastes great to you may not be the same for your blending mates. You can re-blend, taste each other’s, and create YOUR perfect bottle. At the end of it all, you get to give your perfect mixture to Jessup and they create as many custom bottles as you like – complete with your own custom label! This is also fantastic for corporate events and Jessup can customize the experience to help make your event perfect. See Scott’s post from earlier this week where his custom wine was a highlight in proposing to his fiancée!
3. Wine tasting around the valley. We were truly able to see that California wine country is like a family. Not only did the Jessup crew take us in as part of their family, but we were able to experience other vineyards who welcomed our entire group with open arms. Pride Mountain Vineyards is entirely worth the long drive up the hill (and the sort-of tipsy drive back down). Half of their wine is in Napa and half in Sonoma, which makes for some interesting accounting during harvest time! Their tour includes their wine caves and tasting straight form the barrel, as well as a look at their fantasticprivate dining table inside the caves and a great VIP tasting room with hilltop patio for private events (sorry, I am an event planner). Madrigal Vineyards entertained us in their cozy tasting room surrounded by patches of lavender. Finally, the family operation at Piña Napa Valley allowed us to experience a vertical tasting of their cabernet sauvignon, 2000 – 2007. If you have the opportunity to do so, make sure to do it!
2. Becoming part of the Jessup family. From the moment I pulled into the driveway at the Jessup tasting room, I was family. Each and every person at Jessup greeted me, tried to make my stay exciting, educational, more relaxing, and so much more. Think this is because I’m a new Ambassador, think again. This is how Jessup treats each and every person that comes across their path. Jessup is owned by three families that bring their talents together for the love of wine. They have created a team of people that are all so passionate about the art of wine making that they can’t help but draw people in with their excitement and sincerity. Learn more about the great people that I met over the weekend, by reading their bios here.
1. The Jessup tasting experience. Finally, the highlight of my trip was my Jessup tasting experience. I was lucky enough to have my second Jessup tasting ever with Bob Clark, Jessup’s Sommelier. His passionate explanation of each wine as we went through the tasting was exciting for myself and other wine club members at the table. See some of Bob’s tasting videos here. It is hard not to catch Jessup wine fever when you are in the tasting room (and hard not to leave with a case or two or three or four). Each trip to Napa Valley gives me more and more tasting room experience to draw from, and each trip brings me back to the fact that Jessup truly can’t be beat for tasting experience! I hope that you stop by soon and let me know if you agree!