Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vineyard 7 & 8

On a Monday morning in April our bar staff met to enjoy one of our highly anticipated field trips. It was a little early in the morning – especially for our night crew who got off work at 11:00pm. Wiping the sleep from our eyes (and downing that last cup of coffee) we ventured up Spring Mountain in St. Helena to our ultimate destination, Vineyard 7 & 8.

After a long weekend of abundant sunshine it was a bit of a shock to enter the clouds as we climbed higher and higher. Our ears popped, the temperature sank and we regretted not bringing that jacket after all. When we reached the bluff that becomes the driveway of Vineyard 7 & 8, the clouds had completely enveloped us, virtually spitting little drops of rain.

At the entrance gate a kind voice invited us in. Our savior arrived in the form of Alissa, our host, with a glass of the 2009 Estate Chardonnay for each of us. We all raised our glasses to take a whiff and observe. This Chard had a hint of cloud! Probably sensing our surprise, Wes Steffens, family member and Assistant Winemaker, explained that the wine doesn’t undergo fining or filtering and that its rich golden hue (while perhaps more pronounced than in other vintages) is what gives this wine its character. It was easy to imagine we were the only people in the world – sipping wine in what felt like being at the top of the space needle. Glass walls covered more than half of the circular room, drawing everyone’s eye to their well-cultivated vineyards.

Seated in antique leather chairs at a majestic thirty-foot table made from a single piece of wood boasting thousands of years of history, we settled into the tasting. Appointing our table was a fantastic pairing of Parmigianino Reggiano, spice toasted Marcona almonds, an olive medley and a dark chocolate sea salt bark. Each pairing highlighted different aspects of the wine playfully on the palate. Wes then guided us deep into the bowels of the mountain caves for a barrel tasting. Tasting among supremely neat rows of barrels, one gets the sense of the absolute detail that they devote to everything, down to the drain covers which have been hand etched, and the pebbles under the barrels that have been sealed to both keep the place sanitary and at the proper humidity.

In silence we drove back down the mountain, perhaps the most impressive quality of Vineyard 7 & 8 is that it’s seamless – everything just seems to fall into place perfectly. It was through this observation that we realized the probable truth that only the most tireless efforts can make it look so easy. Well, we’re impressed.

--Katy Long
Content Manager

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