The Brit and I visited ZD wines after an amazing working visit to another well known winery in Napa Valley. (I want to stress that we were working on the blog that day so we were dressed as such along with being completely sober.) We had finished our earlier tasting sooner than we thought so we decided to stop and take a chance. We called from the parking lot of their winery to see if we could make a last minute reservation. They did have space, and they invited us in.
Here is a note for you: In Napa Valley, many of the wineries now require reservations for tastings. You can try your luck as we did at the last minute, but it is harder to do because there is very spotty cell phone coverage throughout the valley. You may or may not be able to use your phone. Do try though, because there are so many amazing places to see that are well worth it if you can manage to squeeze them in.
Sadly, ZD Wines didn’t end up to be a pleasurable experience. The place itself is very attractive. Both the tasting room and the gardens are laid out in style. But here is the thing, our host treated us so badly we couldn’t believe it. This is the first time this has ever happened to us at a winery. Usually the staff are warm and hospitable. This is the first time I have had to write a negative review. The wine business is a small world and no one wants to be a negative nelly.
It started when we went in and there was no one at the bar. We stood there for about five minutes before anyone appeared. The tasting room was completely empty. Even though it was a weekday in the afternoon it was weird. When the host finally showed up, we greeted him and immediately gave him our card. We explained that we were there for a tasting so we could write about their wines for our blog. The guy actually sneered at us and threw our card down. Pulling out our best English tea manners, we suggested that we sit in the garden which seemed appealing at that moment.
It was at this point he picked back up our card and asked us for our names. Our card reads California Girl and The Brit. He wanted our given names which was fair enough. But he then had to add that it was crazy that we didn’t have our given names on our card and he wouldn’t give us a tasting without us telling him who we were. I had no objection to giving him this information, but I did have an objection to how he said it. I could have after all said my name was Marry Poppins. How would he know? Still, we complied and we sat down for a tasting.
From that point on our host was rude and gave us the impression we were unwelcome. He dutifully poured us a tasting and gave us very bored sounding tasting notes with each pour, but each time was with a sneer on his face, looking at us as though we were just looking for a freebie. We had made it clear that we would write a review of the wines and the winery and had shown him the Napa Food and Vine site, so that he could see were serious.
We did learn that the ZD stands for Zero Defects, a term that is used in the industrial manufacturing industry. Apparently the founders are ex-engineers from the aerospace industry. It was a term meaningful to them, and I kinda liked it.
Although we took complete tasting notes of the wines, I am sure that this host’s attitude colored our judgement and our experience so it is not fair for us really to talk about them. Anyone who tastes wine regularly will tell you that the experience you are having when you are drinking the wine colors your impressions of it. If you are in a good mood, the wine will taste better and vice versa. Although we were in an excellent mood upon arrival, our mood didn’t stay that way.
The Brit comments: We tasted quickly as we felt unwelcome. There was no pleasure in the experience, so to be fair to the wines we will not comment on them.
I tried to take bottle shots, but again, he was aggravated each time I asked him to borrow a bottle.
As we were leaving, going through the tasting room I was taking photos. The space is light and airy and it had interesting architectural details. I stopped to photograph the staircase when the host then again spoke to me. He said “Of course you know who that artist is”. His tone implied he thought I was a dumb ass and I wouldn’t know art if it bit me. In this case, he was referring to a picture up above the staircase. I didn’t know the name of the artist/painter but I had seen his work in the galleries in Yountville and other wineries. Again, I was made to feel like I didn’t belong there.
In the end, I didn’t even finish taking my photographs. We were so uncomfortable we left. Oh well, there are another 500+ wineries in the Napa Valley to visit.
Note to the owners of ZD Wines: I was in the service industry for many years before I retired. Everyone has a bad day. We’d be happy to come back and re-review your place on invitation.