Our last wine tasting tour of the year aimed to ring out 2016 in style with a selection of some of Napa’s finest. Our first stop: the Artesa Winery.
Arriving at the winery can be a bit overwhelming. The grounds are immaculate, with tasteful, yet massive, water features scattered in every direction. Climbing the hill from the ample parking area to the tasting room took us past landscapes and hardscapes of literally monumental proportions.
The tasting room was designed to integrate smoothly with the natural landscape, so it was embedded into the hillside. It even had a natural grass roof! Once inside, the “one with nature” motif continued, with warm earth tones, lots of wood and even water, and elegance in every direction. We could have spent an hour just enjoying the architecture and interior design! We were quickly welcomed to the winery and directed to one of several tasting areas.
We found a space at the bar and met Kevin, our wine guide for the day. Kevin’s calm, humble personality blended perfectly with the vibe of the winery. He set us up with wine glasses and briefly took us through their tasting menu. With four of us tasting, we were able to experience pretty much their entire slate of wines. We got to know Kevin as we got to know a bit more about Artesa wines.
And oh, the wines! So many instant favorites. From the balanced complexity of their Tempranillo and Graciano blend called Tradicío to the refined minerality of the 2013 Pinot Noir, or the explosive fruit of the 2014 Pinot Noir, every wine had a definite personality and reason to be enjoyed. Their 2011 Merlot was so impressive, even to those among us who are not typically Merlot fans, that a bottle joined our growing “take home” list.
While tasting through the exhaustive wine list, we learned a bit about the winery. The winery was founded by the winemaking family Codorníu Raventós, which first started making wine in Spain back in the 16th century! In the 1990’s, Barcelona architect Domingo Triay was commissioned to design the Napa winery, initially named Codorníu Napa. As the winemaking focus shifted from sparkling to still wine, the winery’s name was changed to Artesa, which is Catalan for “handcrafted”, a well-deserved moniker for these wines.
With a long list of wineries yet to visit, we forced ourselves to purchase our wines and say goodbye to Kevin. Our first visit to Artesa will certainly not be our last!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?