I recently had the opportunity to veer off the beaten path and head up Spring Mountain to visit Stony Hill Vineyards with a few of my wine writer colleagues. When I say off the beaten track it is quite a way off, but worth the drive for the wine, hospitality, and scenery!
We tasted through the wines with winemaker Mike Chelini and had a lovely vineyard dinner with owner Peter McCrea and his daughter, Sarah McCrea, who serves as current operational President.
It was a bit of a blast through the 1970’s past as the tasting room has been converted from the McCrea family home and shows all of the cool 1970’s architecture and decor of the era.
The barrel room sits a short walking distance away from the swimming complex/outside entertainment area and I’d guess that to be much older – maybe even built in the 1900’s. Everything on the property screams retro, old school, family, and tradition.
When visiting the barrel room, you can hear loud pops and hisses and there were drops falling on your head. There was nothing glamorous going on there. Apparently, they are known for reusing their barrels and not over-oaking ever! Well, that is what I call environmentally friendly.
Our first taste of wine of the evening was their 2016 Dry Gewurztraminer (sold out). I have never had a dry Gewurztraminer before and for me, this knocked it straight out of the park. Such a sexy, complex wine. The nose was floral and intense, with notes of kumquat and lychee on the palate. I would have loved to see this paired with duck tacos from Oxbow Market for the win! This is some serious wine and I’m really hoping I can get my hands on some for next year. I may have to buy a case and hoard it all to myself.
We next tried their 2016 White Riesling. ($35). This is a dry white Riesling and a terrific effort but for my palate, it takes second place to its neighbor Smith-Madrone.
As we sat down to dinner in the vineyard, Pete regaled us with stories about his time on the mountain and all of the changes to the Napa wine scene over the years. It was fascinating listening to the history as we dined in the changing light, drinking the beautiful wines his family has created.
Next up we had the 2013 Chardonnay ($54.00) which was very lovely. I was impressed with its balance. It had good acidity and a lot of minerality to it, which made it fantastic with food. I was impressed that they didn’t overdo the wood; making it a great, easy to drink wine. I would love to sit and relax with a glass or two of that and I’d be happy to pair it with Salmon.
Our final wine of the night was paired perfectly with a filet mignon; the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($75). The wine had all of the right notes; leather, herbs, and a touch of forest fruits blended together in a symphony of flavors. I thought it would get even better with a bit of time to mature, though is certainly approachable right now.
It is so hard when there are all of these new hot wineries out there flashing their bling to remember the tried and true quality winemakers who remain working away year after year making great wine. Everyone is always eager to discover the latest and greatest shiny new kid on the block. I wonder if its time to rediscover some of the greats? Take a relook at Stony Hill Vineyards. Quality never goes out of style.