There’s a lonely goat herd, yodeleeellooooheeho! Or in this case, there are some horses, some cows and a whole lot of scrub brush. Up on top of Atlas Peak, VinRoc creates micro crafted small lot Cabernet Sauvignon. Above the fog line, overlooking the Foss Valley, where open pastures and oak trees haven’t been overtaken by vineyards, the vineyards are actually east of Stag’s Leap, which is something you don’t realize when you are driving up the hill mandering past a way of life rarely seen in Napa these days.
The estate vineyard is located between 1500-2200 feet on volcanic rocky soils, with sunny days and cool nights. Because of the inversion layer up here above the fog, it’s actually cooler in the summer with more average hours of sunlight than the valley floor.
We first started out on the viewing platform with the Enjolie Rose, a dry Provencal style wine made from Grenache and Barbera grapes. It was dark salmon in color, created by fermented the juice on the skins for longer than most typical roses. It had a sweet candy nose butwas bone dry with raspberries and strawberries, with a very low ABV. This type of rose is perfect for summer sipping on those very hot days, and at $14 a MUST BUY for summer quaffing.
Next, we moved on to the proprietary red blend, RTW. Now, this could be Round the World, Red Table wine, Really Terrific Wine, or Rocking Thea’s Wine – whichever you prefer, it was really lovely. This blend of Cab and Merlot had cocoa, bright dark red berries and dusty plums, and is made by selecting the Cab that won’t be used in the Estate Cab, and blending it with purchased merlot fruit. The spice on the finish was just what I needed as we sat in the chilly breeze on an unusually dreary day. This is a special red wine, and at $40 is a treat you can afford more than once a year. BUY
Once we were inside the cave behind the newly built Japanese Craftsman house and visitors center, we talked to Michael a bit about his wine making techniques. By harvesting one ton at a time, out of the total 15 tons in the vineyard, they are able to tightly control the harvest vine by vine, creating the best wine possible. Each ton yields free run juice, which is fermented separately from the single pressing that occurs afterwards. Once this process is complete, the barrels are fermented separately, and then blended with the rest of the harvest, to create the superior Cab that we tasted.
The 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon had rich dark black ffruit, with figs, baking spice, and black pepper. I tasted a ot of coffee notes as well as cigar box and cedar, followed by the rich fruit of blackberries and cherries. It did have a hint of leather and tobacco, and evolved as we sat there talking for an hour. With only 200-300 cases produced, every bottle is a work of art.
By providing a minimally invasive environment, these truely are handcrafted wines. Given the abundance of $100 Napa Valley Cabernets, I am not typically a big fan of the over priced cult wine. That said, this hand made, nuanced cab is a winner in my book. Yes, it’s pricey, but buy a bottle and hold on to it for a while. You won’t b e sorry. SPLURGE
VinRoc provides visitors with a unique and welcoming hospitality experience, in the middle of literally nowhere. You will forget you are in Napa, and think you are in the foothills of horse country in Kentucky, but with really good wine. If you’d like to visit VinRoc for yourself, they are open by appointment only and can be reached at 707-265-0943. Please tell Michael and Kiky I sent you!