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Yes, Virginia, There is a Sutter Home Winery

December 12, 2012 at 4:42 PM | by | ()

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Sutter Home Winery in Saint Helena, California

The label Sutter Home doesn't exactly call to mind a stately mansion presiding over pristine rows of vineyards on prime California grape-growing property, does it? Heck, we only think of grocery store shelves and deciding which cheap, girly wine to buy for inevitable Lifetime movie marathons. Still, we now should say that's what we thought of it before setting foot at the Sutter Home winery itself in Napa, where there is indeed a Sutter Home and a property so lovely on land so expensive we wonder how $6 bottles of wine keep it all together.

Some of that success comes from having a history that dates back to 1874. Another piece of the pie comes from being so ahead-of-the-times that it's Sutter Home you can thank for inventing the type of wine we know as White Zinfandel.

The business is so big now that no tours are offered (the factory is simply too huge) and Sutter Home ranks as fifth largest winery in the United States, and the second largest family-owned.

For a taste of all this, simply walk into the Sutter Home winery store, belly up to the tasting bar, and one of the staff will happily pour you four tastings of your choice for free. It's one of the only remaining complimentary tastings done in Napa and that's the whole reason we stopped. In fact, we bet they get tons of tourists this way.

Tasting details: Once you've finished browsing the store it's time to pink your four free samples. The options for tasting are: Reserve White Zinfandel*, Retro Pinot Grigio*, Merlot, Retro Zinfandel*, Sweet Red, Retro Muscat of Alexandria*, Bubbly Pink Moscato and Zinfandel Port*. We've added an * to the ones we chose to sip.

Pricing: You will not be breaking the bank at all. Tastings are completely free, there's no tours to buy, and bottles range from $6 (of which there are about 17 options) to $20 (the NV Proprietor's Series Zinfandel Port).

Our wine pick: We loved the Retro Zinfandel for its strong aroma of cherry pie. Tasted, it's a little spicier but ideal with something like a good turkey dinner. Plus it's from the "retro" line, meaning it's only available right here at the Sutter Home winery store.

We attended Flavor! Napa Valley as a guest of Napa Valley Tourism, but headed to the wineries ourselves, so rest assured all photos, opinions, and inebriation is completely our own.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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