Destination Cuvaison


Cuvaison Estate Wines was founded in 1969 and produces Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah from its Carneros estate as well as Bordeaux-style reds and Zinfandel from the historic Brandlin Estate Vineyard on Mount Veeder purchased in 1998. A Swiss gentleman, Thomas Schmidheiny, and his family purchased Cuvaison in Calistoga plus 400 acres of land in Carneros in 1979. Cuvaison was named Wine & Spirits‘ Winery of the Year in 2012. I had the opportunity to visit the Carneros estate location (built in 2004) and its gorgeous, modern tasting room (built in 2009).

Kite's Tail Chardonnay
Kite’s Tail Chardonnay

The tasting room incorporates wood, metal, and glass to create an architectural wonder overlooking the winery’s rolling vineyards and gorgeous Carneros views. The glass opens to create an open-air atmosphere on warmer days, creating the feeling of being one with the vineyard. The tasting fee is $20 for four wines, not waived with purchase due to the upscale experience offered, and tastings are by appointment only.

Spire Pinot Noir
Spire Pinot Noir

During my visit with a friend, I had the opportunity to taste eight wines, including the single-block Kite Tail Chardonnay, the winery exclusive ATS Chardonnay, the Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, two vintages (2012 and 2013) of the single-block Spire Pinot Noirthe estate Syrah, and two wines produced from the Brandlin Estate Vineyard: the Cabernet Sauvignon and Harry’s Keep Proprietary Red. Our host, the tasting room manager, was very hospitable and detailed in his explanation of the wines and their sense of place. The tasting experience lasted about two hours. My preferences were the Vin Gris and the reds, especially the 2012 Spire Pinot Noir, the Syrah, the Cabernet, and Harry’s Keep. I purchased the Syrah, which my companion and I described as a “wine geek’s Syrah,” with lots of gamey, meaty aromas and flavors coupled with blackberry, black cherry, and peppery spice. It would be a great wine to pair with grilled meats.

View from the tasting room
View from the tasting room

If you’re planning a trip to Napa Valley, I recommend a visit to Cuvaison’s Carneros estate. I’d love to create an unforgettable day in Carneros for you and your guests that you will never forget. For more information about travel to Napa Valley and Carneros, please contact me.

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