Look for a wine club that offers cave tours
If you’re trying to decide which wine club to join, pick one that offers a cave tour. Caves are the perfect places to store and age barrels of wine. Well out of the sun, they maintain an even temperature year round, which is nice and low but not freezing. As air from the outside enters the cave and cools, its relative humidity increases. This reduces the loss of wine through evaporation that would otherwise happen when storing a non-airtight barrel for years at a time. The humidity of a wine cave should be at least 75 percent — more than that if there are white wines being stored.
Winemakers have used natural caves and limestone quarries for centuries. With the rise of the wine industry in California in the nineteenth century, winemakers couldn’t always find caves in the mountains of Napa Valley. So they made their own, hiring the same workers and explosives experts that worked at the silver mines in Nevada and built tunnels through the mountains to create convenient places for wine storage.
Surprisingly good-looking caves
The nice thing about building your own cave is that it can look however you like. Wine caves are often carved, decorated and artistically lit to suit their owners’ imaginations and have their own water features that draw from underground rivers. Some of them are set up to be good places to have dinner.
During cave tours, you can taste the latest wines and the library wines from previous years stored in the cave. Bring a coat — it’ll be cool in there.
Cave tours of a vineyard near St. Helena
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 how they make and store the wine. One of the wines in its library is the dark ruby red 2009 Éloge. A fine blend from an excellent growing year, the ’09 Éloge has an aroma with a core of concentrated dark fruits, with crème de cassis, cedar, cigar box, violets, spice, toast and streaks of red currants. Its flavor is similar — deep and full-bodied with concentrated dark fruits, spice and mocha.
Cave tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase. Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. Join their wine club today.