Tedeschi Family Winery Review
Address: 2779 Grant Street Calistoga,California 94515.
Phone Number: 707-501-0668
Tasting Hours: By appt. 10:30-5:00
Region: Napa Valley AVA, Calistoga AVA, California
Reviewer: Mark and Sonja
Review Date: 6/29/2016
Reviewer: Mark and Sonja
Down a little dirt road in the small, up-valley town of Calistoga in the Napa Valley, there sits yet another vineyard, tiny by the standards of the area as a lone acre planted with Cabernet, along with a few modest structures and a scattering of stunted trees. In some ways, its quite like many of the other small establishments seemingly untouched by time in this agricultural area known best for precious grapes and the wine that can be made from them. On this particular property, the lonely acre is planted to the coveted Cabernet Sauvignon, and a handful of peacocks strut, sounding off in their unique way and weaving timidly in and out around the tires of a small tractor. This is the place where Emil Tedeschi was born and raised, before the Napa Valley morphed into the multi-billion dollar industrial hub that it is today, and one imagines that this particular location perhaps hasnt changed that much throughout the decades. Though Emil went on to found a winery in Hawaii, his legacy remains in Calistoga, where his son Mario still makes wine while his son Emilio greets visitors and manages the business side of things.
The property is small and well-kept, with a distinctly rural feel, each step kicking up the kind of dust you dont mind getting on your shoes. On a beautiful summer day, I sat outside at a wooden picnic table with my traveling companion, Zach, who runs a wine bar in my hometown of Omaha, and together we took in the stunning views of the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas that tower over the vineyard. From where we sat, we could pick out wineries and vineyards on the distant hillside, which had clearly been grandfathered in prior to the laws that now protect the land from such aggressive and destructive hillside development. A small tree offered shade to the old, wooden picnic table where we were seated, and a cool breeze did what it could to fend off the heat of the rising summer sun. That morning, the scent of smoldering bamboo and brush fire lingered in the air, as less than a mile away a small fire had erupted overnight, deftly doused by the local fire department, yet nevertheless one of the constant dangers of living in this dry, up-Valley part of the region.
Emilio Tedeschi looks too young to be as experienced and knowledgeable as he so evidently is. From the moment he began to speak, I understood him to be both amiable and intelligent, greeting us with a friendly smile and a firm handshake before starting on the wide array of wines that Mario is creating in the small winery building that stood behind us. Emilio sees only around fifteen people a day, the rest of his time belonging to the countless other duties of taking care of the day-to-day operations of the small family winery that produces only around 2,000 cases of wine annually.
The first vintage of the Tedeschi Family Winery was released in 2003, with the tasting room opening shortly thereafter in 2005. Rapidly, the place began to develop a reputation for producing extraordinary, old-world style wines, predominantly red-wine varietals, that are both easy drinking and easy on the wallet by Napa Valley standards. Now, more than a decade later, I didnt encounter anyone in the area who didnt recognize and respect the Tedeschi name.
Emilio doesnt remember the days when the family lot was planted to orchards of walnuts, but looking out over the rows of grapes, it isnt difficult to imagine. There in the shade, we sat casually enjoying splashes of the diverse Tedeschi portfolio that range from a light, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc to a 100% Gamay rose, and from an absolutely extraordinary old-world style Cabernet Franc to one of the best fortified wines Ive tried anywhere in the Valley. As we sat and spoke, the conversation gradually shifted from viticulture and the industry to movies, television, books, and technology; Emilio treating us more like old friends than patrons or customers. If we didnt have a reservation for lunch, I imagine that Zach and I might have passed much of the day there under that tree, enjoying the excellent wines and light-heartedly conversing with Emilio.
Some of the biggest, fanciest, and most famous tasting rooms in all of the Napa Valley would be visible from that picnic table, were it not for the grapevines and the trees, and yet its difficult to imagine an experience at any of them surpassing that which we had seated casually, talking and sipping, and enjoying a warm summer day around a tired, old picnic table, being serenaded by peacocks with the smell of smoke wafting about in the morning air. If youre heading to Calistoga, I suggest you call ahead and arrange a tasting at the Tedeschi Family Winery, where the excellent wines will be but a compliment to a truly extraordinary experience. Take the time not only to taste, but also to talk, and you will quickly learn what makes the Tedeschi Family Winery a special place.
Address & Contact Information:
2779 Grant Street
Tasting Hours: By appt. 10:30-5:00.
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