Sabina Vineyards Review
Address: 3291 St. Helena Hwy. N. St. Helena,California 94574.
Phone Number: 707-963-1649
Tasting Hours: By appt.
Region: Napa Valley AVA, St. Helena AVA, California
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
Review Date: 6/8/2016
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
A few miles north of the town of St. Helena and a few miles south of Calistoga in the St. Helena AVA of the Napa Valley is a gem of a winery, Sabina Vineyards. Named for the matriarch of the family, Sabina Sabin, Sabina Vineyards was founded in 2002 by serial entrepreneur, son David Sabin, and his wife, Susan. Some may recognize David Sabin as the president and CEO of the Fuller Brush Company, now based in Napa, and former chairman of Salton, Inc., the founding company of the George Foreman Grill. David and Susan modeled Sabina after boutique Burgundian properties they experienced in their wine-inspired travels.
Sabina Vineyards is not easy to find as it sits away from St. Helena Highway up a long, winding, foliage-lined driveway. Only an unassuming mailbox numbered 3291 indicates that you are headed in the right direction. The property is tucked away on an eastern-facing hillside of the Mayacamas Mountains. The eight acres of land include three acres of organic cabernet sauvignon vineyards (with a smidgen of cabernet franc), the Sabins private residence, and the winery production area located beneath the house. Because Sabina is a residence and a winery, private tours are strictly by advance appointment only.
Upon arrival, my companions and I were greeted by Jennifer, the winerys sales and marketing director, and the family dogs, Chester and Milo. One of my companions asked if David Sabin would be joining us, and Jennifer replied, Hes getting ready for the day, but I will let him know youre here. In the meantime, Jennifer led us on a tour of the production area, and then took us up to a patio facing the Vaca Mountains. The property is located at the narrowest point between the Macamayas and Vaca Mountains, which features astounding views and a slightly cooler microclimate than the lower elevations. This late spring day allowed us to take in the beauty of the lush, green vineyards.
We continued to the tasting area located behind the residence, complete with a swimming pool, fireplace, and our beautifully-set tasting table, including cheese plates with charcuterie, olives, crackers, and chocolates. Chester and Milo followed along as well. During our tasting, David Sabin joined us. He spoke to us briefly about his relationship with George Foreman, the Fuller Brush Company and its significance in Americana, and his focus on creating world-class cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir.
Jennifer began the tasting with the only wine whose grapes come from a vineyard other than their estate, the 2012 Sabina Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley ($55), sourced from Roserock Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of Willamette Valley, Oregon. The grapes were transported from Oregon to the winery where they were fermented in open-top, French oak tanks, then aged 18 months in French and American oak barrels (45% new). This wine was an exemplary example of Willamette Valley pinot noir, displaying floral aromas and a mélange of earthiness, spice, and naturally tart cranberry flavors.
We continued the tasting with two vintages of the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 and 2012, both beautiful examples of refined Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. The 2012 vintage ($125), fermented with native yeast and aged 20 months in French oak barrels, revealed a delectable fusion of dark berries, cocoa, and spice. Coming in at only 13.5% alcohol, this was one of the most elegant Napa Valley cabernets I have ever experienced. Only eight barrels (200 cases) of this cabernet were produced.
To conclude the tasting, we were fortunate to taste the rarely opened 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($150). The big brother of the estate cabernet sauvignon, this wine took refinement to the next level with its exquisitely integrated weave of black fruit, spice, tannin, and acidity.
As we took group photos and savored the end of our visit, none of us wanted to leave. The beautiful estate, the personalized experience, and the remarkable wines had captivated our hearts and our palates.
Correspondents note: Shortly after this visit, I learned that family and winery dog, Chester, passed away. I was very saddened to hear the news, as he was such a happy, comforting part of our experience. American Winery Guide and I offer our sincere condolences to the Sabin and Sabina Vineyards family.