Napa Valley: Newton Winery
Our second day in the Napa Valley began with a tour at Newton Winery. I had not realized just how far up Spring Mountain Newton was when I booked the 11am Newton Winery tour, thus we were late. However, of the six couples who were also in the group, we were the second to arrive, thus we were early. Apparently everyone made the same mistake. Frankly, it’s not that the road was so long, it’s that the road is COVERED in potholes so we had to drive very slowly as to avoid bottoming out. We knew we were close when we passed an old, large Red English looking telephone booth.
Newton Winery Tours are held Tuesday’s through Sunday’s at 11am, only. Book early. You cannot just do a tasting. Parking is very tight.
The late Peter Newton who was originally from England, which explains the telephone booth, developed Newton. We learned he also loved to design elegant, formal English gardens. The main garden actually sits on top of the barrel room. I had to admire the trees that lined the path to the garden as we walked up the hill to go into the caves as they were originally centerpieces at Mr. Newton’s daughter wedding. I had to laugh since my mother still has the centerpieces that were used at my wedding AND my sisters sitting in boxes in the attic. I was pleased to see someone putting a thing like centerpieces to good use.
Newton sits atop Spring Mountain. To be exact it’s 500 to 1,600 feet above sea level. That doesn’t mean a lot to a Colorado girl since we’re a Mile High but, for the vine it means they have to struggle to survive. The result, grapes that are rich and abundant in flavor, but smaller yields. This explains why Newton only produces smaller quantities.
We were able to spend some time in the formal garden, which was nice since you have some great views of the valley. We then headed into the caves to learn more about Newton’s unfiltered wine process. Newton is a bit different that other wineries since it practices an unfiltered wine making technique, which includes natural fermentation and bottling without filtration. One of the main take aways for me personally was really being able to learn/experience the difference between French and American Oak. Newton uses both and we were able to see both right next to each other. Touch them, compare and smell the difference. (French oak is much softer, both touch and smell.)
After we left the caves we went back into the tasting room where the group was seated at a large table, facing one another.This was nice as you could then get to chat with the other people on the tour. Our guide nicely paired the wine with small tappas that helped enhance the flavor of the wines. While we tasted a variety of wines my favorites where the cab’s, of course. Although I was really impressed with all of them and really enjoyed The Puzzle.
- 2007 Unfiltered Chardonnay (decant for an hour to bring out the toffee in the wine, it tasted a bit like peanut brittle, without the brittle.)
- Unfiltered Merlot 2006
- Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon (can age for 10 years or 20 years in a magnum. Right now the wine is very flora but will smooth out over time. It’s honestly amazing.)
- The Puzzle 2007 (50% Cab, 8% petit Bordeaux, 3% cab franc, 33% merlot;decant for two hours)
One thing I haven’t mentioned in this series of Napa Valley posts is that The Husband and I were on a quest to purchase wine that could age for 20 years; one that we could give to our daughter to celebrate her 21st birthday. Ok, one that we could open to celebrate her 21st birthday with her. (It would need to be a magnum since they tend to age longer than single bottles.) We found the perfect wine at Newton – its 2008 Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of trying to pack a magnum in the suit case, we chose to ship it. Mistake.
Newton sent it to us in the heat of the summer and the bottle got heat exposure and the wine leaked out of the cork and wrapped foil. It wouldn’t be a big deal if it hadn’t happened THREE TIMES. They replaced the bottle the first time and second time. I asked them to not ship the replacement until the weather was cooler since we have no desire to ruin wine. That’s simply a crime. Fingers crossed it arrives safe and sound in the next few weeks.