Chimney Rock Winery In Napa Valley

Chimney Rock Winery is my very favorite Napa winery.

Chimney Rock Winery

Not only do they produce an array of delicious wines (reds including single-vineyard and estate Cabernet Sauvignons and a few white wines thrown in for good measure) but their dedication to providing a top-notch experience for their visitors and customers is second to none.

Chimney Rock was one of the very first wineries we discovered on our inaugural trip to Napa. We have been wine club members for years and have returned for a visit every time we are in the Valley. It’s a sentimental favorite having celebrated anniversaries and the 21st birthday of our daughter, Annie and her friend Hope there.

Last year, our visit to Chimney Rock saved the day after a disastrous experience at another Napa winery with whom we had also had a long relationship.

After feeling most unwelcome at the prior stop, we were greeted at Chimney Rock Winery by this:

Chimney Rock welcome

It was this fabulous hospitality, combined with incredible wines, that gave our friend Ellen the idea to plan a surprise birthday party for her husband John at Chimney Rock Winery during our recent group trip to Napa.

If he had an inkling of what was going on, John certainly didn’t show it. But he may have gotten a little suspicious when our mini-bus pulled into the Chimney Rock parking area and there was not another vehicle to be seen.

We were greeted at the door and ushered onto the lovely patio for a glass of Sauvignon Gris (a cousin aka genetic modification of Sauvignon Blanc).  Bright and refreshing, the perfect wine to kick off our evening.

As we enjoyed the wine we strolled past the vineyards taking in the lovely weather and spectacular views.

We returned to the patio for yummy appetizers and a glass of Elevage, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. This beautiful red blend highlights all that is good about the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley.

Fun fact: The Stags Leap District was the first spot designated as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) because of the distinctiveness of the soil which carries through to the wine grown on the land.

Next, we moved into the barrel room, decorated with a simple yet elegant look for our private party.

Chimney Rock Winery Barrel Room

Our first course was brilliantly paired with the Elevage Blanc, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and its close relative (aka genetic mutation) Sauvignon Gris. This white wine blend is perfect for those of us who are looking for an alternative to Chardonnay.

This wine thrives in the shadowlands that exist between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The light will seem brighter, the food will taste better, and the wine will elevate it all.        ~Chimney Rock website

Yes! Yes! And yes!

A talented guitar player entertained us with pleasing background music as we enjoyed our delicious dinner.

Chimney Rock Winery private dinner menu

The main course – paprika rubbed filet of beef – was paired with, what else, the spectacular Ganymede Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. From the oldest vines on the property, this is one of the flagship wines of Chimney Rock Winery.

It exemplifies the balance of power and grace that is so revered and expected of Chimney Rock wines.         ~Chimney Rock website

I couldn’t agree more.

The Chimney Rock Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon was served with dessert (and for the rest of the night!).

Throughout the evening we reminisced about the past, revisited the stories of our 40-year friendship, and raised many glasses to toast the blessings in our lives and to toast those who weren’t able to join us but were there in spirit.

But most of all, we celebrated our dear friend, John, and the very special place he occupies in our hearts.

Let me tell you, this guy is the kindest, most generous and devoted friend one could ever have. It is no wonder that, when his wife, Ellen, floated the idea of a surprise birthday celebration in Napa we all enthusiastically said YES!!!

Treasured friends, gorgeous setting, outstanding food, and extraordinary wine.

It was a magical night – one we will never forget!

Chimney Rock Winery barrel

(A special shout-out to Ellen for hosting this memorable evening and to the Chimney Rock Winery Special Events Manager, Lorena Romero, for creating such a beautiful celebration of our very dear friend.)

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Beef Tenderloin and Cabernet Sauvignon

Beef tenderloin is my very favorite cut of meat.

And it scares me to death.

Beef tenderloin can be culinary bliss or if cooked improperly, the most expensive mistake you’ll ever make.

So, when I recently prepared a beef tenderloin dinner to celebrate having the twins and their parents in town, I turned to the wise and wonderful Barefoot Contessa for advice.

Seriously, is there anyone better at instilling confidence in home cooks than Ina Garten? Her soothing voice. Her “keep calm and trust me” demeanor.

She is simply the best.

Ina’s recipe for beef tenderloin calls for four ingredients.

  • 5-pound beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter at room temperature
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Ok, that’s the easy part.

I’ve made beef tenderloin enough to know the drill: take the meat out of the refrigerator several hours before cooking to let it come up to temperature, slather the tenderloin with butter, generously salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan and you are ready to go.

The very, very, very tricky part of cooking a beef tenderloin is the temperature at which to cook it.

A Google search for “how to roast a 5-pound beef tenderloin” brings results ranging from 250° to 500°.

Quite the range, eh?

Now you know why I turned to my culinary spirit animal, Ina Garten.

I will let the expert show you how it’s done.

Our crowd favors “rare” so I cooked my tenderloin at 500° for EXACTLY 22 minutes as Ina instructs here.

It turned out perfectly as I knew it would and we gobbled it up before I thought to snap a picture.

One little side note.

Because I was terrified of overcooking the main course, I used not one but two meat thermometers.

The standard, every kitchen should have one, old-school meat thermometer

Mocadeaux - meat thermometer

and the fancy-pants, set it and forget it, remote meat thermometer.

Mocadeaux - remote meat thermometer

Both were brand new as my old ones had gone caput within days of one another.

At the precise 22 minute mark, the low-tech thermometer registered a few ticks below 130°, just where I wanted it to be.

However, the high-tech device registered an alarming 86°! If I had relied just on that thermometer without the backup thermometer and the guidance of my mentor, Ina, my precious tenderloin would have been destroyed. Shoe leather.

Lessons learned: Always have a backup thermometer and always trust Ina.

Now, about the wine…

A dinner featuring my favorite meat needed to also feature my favorite wine – Cabernet Sauvignon.

Peter reached deep into the wine cellar and picked out two gems.

2007 Quintessa Cabernet Sauvignon

Mocadeaux - 2007 Quintessa Cabernet Sauvignon

and

2009 Darius II Cabernet Sauvignon

Mocadeaux - 2009 Darius II

Both of these beautiful wines are definitely special occasion gems pulled from the top shelf of our cellar. But you can find great bottles of cabernet sauvignon at your local wine store. Always remember to ask the staff for suggestions.

Check out my recommendations, including “Everyday Cabernet Sauvignons”Chimney Rock which always rocks and “A Red Wine Lovers List of Red Wines I Love”.

Mocadeaux - red wine list

With a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin and a thoughtfully chosen Cabernet Sauvignon, you can’t go wrong.

By the way, be sure to send a note letting me know when dinner will be served. I wouldn’t want to be late!

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Chimney Rock Rocks!

Over the weekend, Peter and I decide to take advantage of being house bound by sub-zero temperatures to clear out the freezer and finally consume some of the leftovers that have piled up.

I don’t know about you, but we have a terrible habit of not labeling containers as we stash them in the freezer so it’s always a mystery when we pull something out weeks later.

Last night we thought our dinner was going to be beef stew until we defrosted the “beef stew” and realized it was actually pomegranate onion sauce.

And you know what they say…when your freezer hands you pomegranate onion sauce you need to grab a couple of steaks to go under it.

And, when dinner consists of steaks with a pomegranate onion sauce, you absolutely must open a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon to go with it.

That’s just what we did.

2006 Chimney Rock Tomahawk Cabernet

2006 Chimney Rock Tomahawk Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

It is hard to overstate how much I love Chimney Rock wines. They produce some of my very, very favorite Cabernets.

Chimney Rock’s wines exemplify the very best qualities of Napa Valley Cabs: rich, bright red fruit notes, a touch of spice and a long, glorious finish. Their rock star winemaker, Elizabeth Vianna, has been crafting these gems for over 14 years.

This particular wine, a single-vineyard Cabernet from Chimney Rock’s Tomahawk Vineyard in the Stag’s Leap District, paired perfectly with our steak dinner. It was awarded 92 points by Wine Enthusiast.

I’d also award a pretty high score to the meal. Not bad for leftovers!

steak with pomegranate onions

Peter and I have been members of Chimney Rock’s wine club for years.

In addition to the fabulous wines, every club shipment includes a recipe. In fact, the pomegranate onion sauce (a reduction including 2 cups of pomegranate juice, 1 cup of pomegranate jam and a pound of thinly sliced onions) came from a Chimney Rock recipe.

Chimney Rock’s customer service, like their wine, is second to none. If you make a visit to Napa, be sure to schedule a tasting – you won’t be disappointed!

Hmmm… I wonder what tonight’s mystery leftover will be. Who cares as long as there is good wine to go with it!

Designated driver, Uber or cab

No one paid me to say this.

 

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Napa: 7 Gems And A Clunker – The Finale

Now that we have cleansed our palates from the disappointing stop at Darioush and accepted their subsequent apology, I’m happy to report that the final three tasting experiences on our Napa trip met, and even exceeded, our highest expectations.

The next stop was Chimney Rock where we were greeted, ushered into a private room and seated at a table set with glasses for each wine we would be tasting and this:

Chimney Rock welcome

Talk about making us feel welcomed!

Chimney Rock is owned by The Terlato Wine Group. Terlato is a worldwide importer and marketer of wines. They have full ownership of seven wineries and are partners with several more.

You may have seen Chimney Rock or other Terlato wines on Top Chef.

Visiting the beautiful Chimney Rock winery you would never suspect they had a giant corporate umbrella hanging overhead. The tasting room and grounds are so warm and welcoming they make you feel like you are at some small, family owned winery.

chimney rock winery

Chimney Rock is probably known best for their killer Cabernet Sauvignons. They make a range of single vineyard Cabs that each beautifully represent the area of Napa Valley from which they come.

As you can see from the VERY WELCOMING menu card, we had an opportunity to taste an array of wines ranging from a white blend to awesome Cabernet Sauvignons. I’ll let you in on a little secret…we even got to try a few wines that were not on the list.

Chimney Rock is truly one of my very, very favorite wineries and, as a lover of classic and delicious Napa Cabernets, holds a special place in my heart and in our wine cellar.

I love them and they love me back.

We started our last day of tasting at Chappellet Winery.

Chappelet

Located high up on Pritchard Hill with stunning views of Napa Valley and Lake Hennessy, Chappellet is a winery worth visiting.

We started our experience with a taste of Chenin Blanc and worked our way through a Chardonnay and a Zinfandel while strolling the facility and grounds with our uber knowledgeable and interesting guide.

After the tour we sat at a table amid the aging barrels and tasted a few more wines.

Because we had a birthday girl in our group and because her darling daughter had called ahead to let the folks at Chappellet know, we were treated to a taste of Chappellet’s flagship wine The Pritchard Hill Cabernet. Yum and Yum!

Chappellet is a great name to know because they make excellent wine at a price point that is a bit lower than many of their Napa brethren and they are fairly widely distributed.

We wrapped up our visit with lunch on Chappellet’s picnic meadow.

Chappellet picnic

The final stop on our vacation was at Hendry Wines.

The experience at Hendry is like no other. Definitely one I would recommend, especially if you are a student of wine and wine making.

George Hendry has a degree in nuclear physics from UC Berkley. He spends his time crafting excellent wine and designing particle accelerators. No big deal…

The Hendry family has farmed the same Napa land since the 1930’s. George grew up on that land, gaining a deep understanding and appreciation for every acre. Today Hendry wines owns 114 acres divided into 47 individual blocks.

The facilities at Hendry are not at all flashy. In fact, the first time we visited we drove by the place 3 times before noticing the sign marking the driveway.

Hendry Wines

That’s it. That is how you know you have arrived. I kind of love the simplicity.

George and his team apply an almost scientific approach to making wine – but in the best possible way. And, with great success.

It really is tough to adequately describe the uniqueness of the Hendry visit. We were lucky enough to be led by George’s right-hand gal and “Jan of all trades” who has a knowledge of everything from the dirt through the final bottled product. Jan’s husband, Jeff, is George’s partner in the cyclotron business.

George, who lives on the property, was putzing around and popped in to say hello and answer questions.

Just a regular guy who happens to make great wine and also particle accelerators.

Hendry produces lots of different kinds of wine in their 47 blocks which makes the tasting experience quite rich. White wine lovers will appreciate the balance of reds and whites on the tasting menu.

My personal Hendry favorites are their Albariño, Pinot Gris, Primitivo and Zinfandels.

hendry bottle

In addition to chronicling the wine tasting, as I looked through photos for this post, these stood out:

spaghetti bolognese

Peter making spaghetti bolognese

Omelette and frittata made by Ernie.

Omelette and frittata made by Ernie.

pizza

Byff assisting Ernie with pizza for the grill.

grilling

Guys grilling steaks.

The guys take good care of us. I’d say they are keepers.

Our Napa 2015 trip was a great success. Lots of great wine, great food and great fun with dear friends.

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