Cave tours in Napa Valley
Caves. They are dark and mysterious. They are chilly, but never too cold. Despite not having been built for comfort, they were some of humanity’s first shelters, and the location of some of our first attempts at art. For centuries, they’ve been used to store wine barrels — the air in them is always at just the right temperature, so there is very little evaporation of the wine despite the hairline gaps that let air into the wine barrel and make it possible to tap the barrel. So it was that when winemaking came to California, the winemakers decided that if these hills didn’t have enough caves to go around, they would simply make their own, using the same equipment and hiring the same workers as the railroads that were driving tunnels through the Rocky Mountains.
Today, you can arrange cave tours of these wine caves. There you can taste the newest wines to be judged ready for drinking, and library wines from earlier years which have had a chance to age properly.
Napa wine clubs like Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Wine Club often hold tours of the vineyard’s caves. Many Napa Valley wine caves have been artistically carved, lighted and furnished, and can cater elegant dinners. However well-appointed they are, these caves retain the chilliness and humidity that lets them fulfill their function, so dress the way you would for a cool spring or fall day.
Vineyard near St. Helena offers cave tours
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, holds tastings in its barrel caves, where current releases and library wines may be sampled and visitors can learn all about the winemaking process. Cave tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived for two by joining Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards Wine Club at the 6-bottle level or making a $100 purchase. In addition, at the 12-bottle level you get a complimentary cave tasting for four, and at the 24-plus bottle level you get a cave tasting/food pairing for six.
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. These wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. One Bordeaux blend from the library that you might be introduced to on a cave tour of Anderson’s Conn Valley is the 2010 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, an intense dark purple wine with a slight edge of red, has an aroma dominated by cassis with streaks of blackberry, red berries, plum and blueberry, elements of smoke and tar from the oak, and highlights of crushed roses, blue flowers and anise. Born from a year with a cool spring and fall and an intensely hot summer, this wine’s flavor has a massive structure of black, blue and red fruits with licorice, anise, tobacco, smoke, rosehips and violets. This is a wine that deserves to be allowed to age.