Eddie and I visited Napa Valley this past holiday season. One of the wineries we booked a tasting with was Clif Family Winery off of the main drag, Highway 29 in St. Helena. It would become one of the most remarkable tastings we have had over the years. Let me set the stage by first telling you about the different tasting areas, the wines we sampled with the food that was prepared just for our tasting. Basically, the Trifecta of winning and wine-ing experiences!
Two Tasting Rooms
We had two addresses for Clif on our maps app. The one that Tock had used for our reservations was where we headed for our Saturday appointment. It was such a party there! Many guests were seated or milling about at many tasting areas, it was well lit, with plenty of staff and wine flowing. But when we checked in we were told we were to go to the Enoteca, which was a short half block walk away…
There we found several well appointed private tasting rooms (picture a private well-decorated home turned into a tasting space) and were led past each unique room to a grand space outdoors that faced the setting sun over miles of vineyards.
Jeremy Maron, a fellow WSET level 2 grad like myself and the Fine Wine Sales Manager for Clif, greeted us. While we got settled in we learned that almost all of their wines are out of the prestigious Howell Mountain AVA and winemaker Laura Barrett started with them in 2015. Clif, known to many for the namesake protein bar, offers organic chocolates, solar grown honey, organic farm preserves, wine jellies, organic farm hot sauces and other artisan foods at the tasting rooms.
Wine Tasting and Food Pairing
As the sun set over the Napa Valley we had a ringside seat while enjoying some very fine wine and perfectly paired small plates from Clif Family Winery and in-house chef Chef Magnus. I don’t have tasting notes on all of the wines Jeremy shared with us but I will tell you that we purchased many of these after the tasting: We began with a 2022 Napa Valley unoaked Chardonnay and 2022 Mendocino Rose of Grenache, then we moved onto a Howell Mountain Estate 2020 Le Colline Vineyard Estate Zinfandel. From there we dived into a few library wines: 2018 Cold Springs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2018 Croquet Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Cima Cabernet Sauvignon. We finished with a NV Petite Sirah dessert wine.
The especially created pairing dishes included: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat’s milk cheese with ash and a savory Cal Girl Creamery cheese for our starter plate. We sampled Journeyman Meats in Healdsburg for the charcuterie plate and pickles from Clif Family farm produce. Next were two seasonal items – one was a “loose play on a pumpkin pie” and a savory fig Newton and goat cheese puff. The main course was an incredible waffle made with Thanksgiving stuffing topped with fried turkey and gravy. And lastly we indulged in chocolate Ganache. Suffice it to say, we didn’t have room for dinner later!
In conclusion, I want to go back and taste again, in both tasting rooms for all of the experiences you can get!
My social media with a video of some of the Chef Magnus dishes are here.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in the first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Proof Awards, Cellarmasters, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.