Pride Mountain Vineyards Review
Address: 4026 Spring Mountain Rd. St. Helena,California 94574.
Phone Number: 707-963-4949
Tasting Hours: By appt.
Region: Napa Valley AVA, Sonoma County, California
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
Review Date: 4/5/2016
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
In all of my visits to Napa and Sonoma prior to moving here, I never discovered Pride Mountain Vineyards until recently. After traveling in a tour bus along curvy Spring Mountain Road, which changes to Saint Helena Road at the Napa and Sonoma County line and leads to the far-removed estate, I knew I had discovered a remarkable location for grape growing and winemaking. Located in the Mayacamas Mountains at an elevation of 2100 feet, Pride is noteworthy in that its a bi-county estate, with its 235 acres split between Napa and Sonoma Counties. Due to this duality, the wines crafted by Pride are not Spring Mountain or otherwise AVA designated, but rather the wines are from Napa Valley, Sonoma County, or the sources of the grapes are noted on the bottle in percentages if from both counties. To acquire Prides wines on a regular basis, one must sign up for their mailing list to be considered for access to their releases, and access is based on previous and continued purchase activity.
Formerly known as Summit Ranch, records of vineyards date back to 1869. The first deed recorded for the property was in 1872. The walls of the original stone winery building, built in 1890 and mostly destroyed by a fire during Prohibition, still stand on the property. Purchased a hundred years later by Jim and Carolyn Pride, the winery is now operated by their adult children, Steve and Suzanne. The production team includes winemaker Sally Johnson and viticultural consultant, Paul Skinner. Pride employs 45 people and produces 20,000 cases annually.
While Pride has a few tasting options, such as the $20 tasting room experience and the $30 larger group tasting, our wine industry group was treated to a modified Summit Experience ($75), which for us included a stop in the tasting room, a tour of the property, and tastings throughout the winerys caves. We began the tour in the tasting room with a splash of the Napa Valley Chardonnay. Our host, Tim Bouchet, an 18-year employee of the winery, told us a bit about the winerys history and wine allocation program. He was the best guide we could have had, with his extensive knowledge about the winery, the wines, and the customers. He told us a very touching story about how one of their allocation members and his wife loved Pride so much, that when she passed away, he requested her ashes be spread across the vineyards. I imagined the ceremony was very beautiful and realized immediately that Pride must be a special business to build that kind of relationship with their members.
The tasting room and winery building, located in Sonoma County and crafted of stone and wood beams, was built to blend in, rather than take away from, the wonderful views of Mount Saint Helena and the 90+ acres of planted vineyards. Inside the building, Tim led us to an adjacent room with a map of the property so that we could understand the layout of the estates vineyards as well as the mountain soil types and grape varieties grown. We then headed to the caves, where we stopped for a taste of Sonoma County Syrah, a beautiful expression of the darker side of syrah, with aromas and flavors of black fruits and berries and a warm, peppery finish. Next was a walk-through of the beautiful caves which included barrel samples of Napa-Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon from the same vineyard blocks but with different harvest times and production treatments so that we could taste the difference that hang time and winemaker choices can make. We also tasted a Napa-Sonoma Merlot both from bottle and barrel. The merlot is definitely a cabernet lovers wine, with lush berry and chocolate flavors. From the caves, we passed through the private tasting salon, which at first glance, resembled an elegantly decorated living room where Summit Experience guests would typically conclude their visit with a seated tasting. However, we continued along our way and found ourselves outside on a patio area overlooking the magnificent vineyard scenery, the perfect place for photos. We concluded our visit by purchasing a couple of bottles of wine and picnicking directly facing what is left of the 1890 stone winery building, basking in the glorious, sunny weather and contemplating a return to the exceptional Pride Mountain Vineyards.