Whenever I travel to Napa or other Wine Regions I’m always looking to check out producers I haven’t visited before. Often times I get recommendations when I’m out and about tasting. What I find really interesting is that just about every trip there is one place that seems to have some undercurrent of buzz about it. No matter where I go or who I speak to eventually it seems that folks get around to mentioning a specific winery. This trip I lost track of how many folks suggested I check out Gargiulo Vineyards. The people making the suggestion ranged from individuals at other wineries to folks I tasted side by side with elsewhere. After a couple of days of hearing about them, the groundswell building in my head convinced me to go see what they had going on; so I called and scheduled an appointment. Gargiulo is a boutique family owned Napa Valley Estate Winery. They produce 3,500 cases of wine, primarily from two separate Estate Vineyards in Oakville; one at their Winery site right on Oakville Crossroad near Silverado Trail and one on Money Road. In addition to Bordeaux Varietals they have Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio planted as well.
When I arrived at Gargiulo Vineyards I was immediately taken by the lovely and welcoming grounds. I made my way to the tasting room which was incredibly comfortable and warm, with rustic flourishes. In one corner a handful of guitars stood on their stands. Apparently everyone who knows how to play is welcome to pick one up and strum. All of these things come together to form a tranquil space to spend some time and yes, taste wine in.
The first wine we were poured was the Rosato di Sangiovese. This dry Rosé was refreshing and an excellent way to get things going. Tastings at Gargiulo are by appointment. Once everyone who was going to be in my tasting group settled in we sat around a nice large square table with ultra comfortable chairs. We were then led through our wines by a member of the Gargiulo team. The second wine we tasted was accompanied by a dish of morsels for each guest to munch on. Olives, cheese, nuts and more made up the treats on hand. That second wine Aprile, was my overall favorite. This offering, named for the owner’s daughter is a blend of Sangiovese (97%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (3%). They call this their Super Oakville Blend which is a nod to the Super Tuscan blends that inspired it. What impressed me about this offering was its combination of complexity, length, drink-ability and good acidic structure. This is a classic food wine and I was craving a dish of pasta.
After that we tasted a Merlot and several Cabernet Sauvignons. I’m happy to report that there wasn’t a clunker in the bunch. Each wine was a fine example of Oakville fruit and the varietal in question. I was particularly impressed with the Merlot which was made with structure, length and most importantly true varietal character. When they are well made Merlots appeal to people who like Cabernet Sauvignon. The Money Road Ranch offering from Gargiulo is such a Merlot. The Cabernets were nice too and each had the stuffing to age for a number of years. Each of the Gargiulo wines I tasted was well made and would match well with typically appropriate cuisine.
After we’d gone through all the wines we took a tour of the grounds and the winemaking facilities. This being Oakville, Gargiulo has some pretty well known neighbors surrounding them; Screaming Eagle is amongst them.
In addition to the tasting I attended Gargiulo offers some other options. At least one of them includes Lunch prepared by owner Jeff Gargiulo. I found the wines, surroundings, people and overall tasting experience at Gargiulo to be an excellent and impressive one. More and more wineries are doing sit down tastings by appointment these days. Some of them work very well and some fall flat, the one at Gargiulo is a keeper.