A Day in Napa, Part 4: Cornerstone Cellars and Stepping Stone Cellars

A Day in Napa, Part 4: Cornerstone Cellars and Stepping Stone Cellars
A Day in Napa, Part 4: Cornerstone Cellars and Stepping Stone Cellars


Wonderful husband of mine got us reservations at Michael
Chiarello’s Bottega, so we crossed
the valley to Washington Street in downtown Yountville.  There we stopped at Cornerstone Cellars, sister-wine to Stepping Stone Cellars, at 6505 Washington Street.  Cornerstone Cellars offers 5 tastes for $15,
which starts with their 2012 Napa Valley Riesling, Stepping Stone.  The grapes are 100% Oak Knoll Riesling (the
same Oak Knoll appellation that we could see from Signorello’s gorgeous patio).  This is a new release and is, sadly, the last
vintage that Cornerstone Cellars is making.  It is a dry Riesling redolent of honey and spice, made for making a
rainy day feel sunny.
A Day in Napa, Part 4: Cornerstone Cellars and Stepping Stone CellarsThe 2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc starts with a sweet
lemony melon nose and has flavors of smoky   There is no oak overtone, I think because it
is barreled in neutral oak which is 3-4 years old.  While we were sipping sauv blanc, our pourer
Ben explained that Jeff Keene, Cornerstone’s winemaker, came from New
Zealand.  Along the way, Jeff met Tony
Rynders, a winemaker from Oregon, and the collaboration uniting California and
Oregon wines began.
tea and citrus.
This led to our tasting the 2010 Pinot Noir, Willamette
Valley, OR
, a berry and spice confection that is nicely balanced with gorgeous
legs.  This red has low tannins with plenty
of pinot vibrancy.
The 2010 Napa Valley Syrah, Stepping Stone leads with a smoked
meat earthiness into a chewy berries and spice center that ends with a
raspberry finish.  Bring on the grilled
tri-tip and don’t hold back on the peppercorn sauce because this Syrah will
stand up to it.  Oh, bit of info, this
vintage is all Carneros grapes.
A Day in Napa, Part 4: Cornerstone Cellars and Stepping Stone Cellars

Cornerstone Cellar’s 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc,
Stepping Stone
is 92% franc and 8% merlot.  A peppery nose with basil and a whiff of
tobacco preps your tongue for a jalapeno spiciness, balanced acidity, and a
velvet finish that has your mouth requesting steak fajitas, please.  And another Judi-pour of that Cab Franc, too,

John was pleased with the full bodied richness of the 2010
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
.  It is
young and tastes like 3-5 years under our stairs will enhance the already
balanced, dark cherry, touch of cinnamon, slightly acidic flavor.  This was a product of Jeff’s first year as
winemaker, following Celia Walsh, his predecessor.  Good job, Jeff!
The bonus pour, Cornerstone Cellar’s 2010 Cabernet
Sauvignon, Hollow Mountain
compared nicely with the 2010 Napa Valley Cab.  This vintage comes from the Ink Grove
Vineyard.  The Hollow Mountain Cab
carries mid-strength tannins and an edgy fruit flavor into a smooth finish. John
felt it has an acid finish, but I did not get that.  Or maybe my perfect day smile needed that
acidic counterpoint.  Whatever, we were
both exquisitely satisfied with Cornerstone Cellar as the perfect end point to
a delicious day in Napa Valley as we anticipated dining at Bottega (omg, Bottega
made me think maybe I should be writing a food blog as well. Yummmmm!).

Don’t overlook Part OnePart Two and Part Three of our Napa journey!

About the Author: Judi never does anything short, be it children (even at 5' 10", all 3 kids outgrew her), a voicemail message, a menu for family & friends, a day of visiting wineries, or a wine pour. Especially the latter; wine glasses are large for a reason! Her daughter-in-laws and their friends have a measure called The Judi-Pour. That means we have blessedly good relationships, 'cuz her name could be attached to worse. Sparkling wines are my go-to, but there is always a time for a peppery Pinot Noir or a crisp Pinot Grigio. Or a chill Sauvignon Blanc poolside or a toasty Cab in hand while playing bocce or a frizzante after work or.....

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