When one thinks of Napa Valley and wine tasting, one often pictures a bucolic setting, sipping, and relaxing. The experience at Larkmead Vineyards is a great example of just that. This winery is located in Calistoga, which is in the north end of the valley. The setting is beautiful, situated on the valley floor and surrounded by vineyards.
The facility itself is an artistic expression of architecture. This is a Howard Backen project, one of the many wineries and restaurants he has designed in the valley. Tastings are done on the porch or on the patio and lend themselves to really relaxing and enjoying the wine and the scenery. Speaking of the scenery, the drought-tolerant landscaping, which incorporates many native plants, is also beautiful.
One of my favorite aspects of the visit is the exploration of the winery’s history, from its beginnings to the present day, with the aid of a talented host. (This is a winery that has been in existence for 137 years.) As for the historical guide, herein is one of the gems of Larkmead. Sonny has been our host on numerous visits. He is engaging, genuine and knowledgeable. He easily weaves the story of the winery with the wine and allows you to gain a real appreciation for both.
But what about the wine, you ask? While the setting is attractive, without excellent drinking wine, it would not really be worth it. These are well-crafted, well-structured wines that are worth the money. The portfolio includes Sauvignon Blanc, red blends, and deep, rich cabernets. Their estate cabernet is $70, which is very drinkable young but will age gracefully. Larkmead operates by appointment only. So next time you plan a visit to the Napa Valley, include Larkmead.