HALL Wines’ Cabernet Cook-Off: Charity Runs Deep in the Napa Valley

The Napa Valley is an agricultural region, with many different types of soil running through the area (50 of the known 100+ found in the world). Mountains surround this beautiful valley, rising as high 2200 feet. Nothing, though, is as inspiring as the charitable heart that runs deep through the residents of this region. Charity is one of the things that Napa Valley does so well. Winery owners and winemakers all show their heart with the many events put on throughout the year to help take care of their citizens.

The HALL Cabernet Cook-Off is a great example of this charitable heart. The theme of the day was to “pop a cork and grab a fork.” There were 13 chef teams, each representing a different charity and vying for your and the judges’ votes The challenge: What food paired best with the 2013 HALL Napa Valley Cabernet? What a great question! It really required some drinking and eating to cast an educated vote!

This was a magnificent setting with a glorious sun-filled day.  HALL Winery also hosted last year’s Auction Napa Valley (the Valley’s biggest charity event), which was a beautiful location for this event. HALL has lovely gardens, a large courtyard, and bocce ball courts – all sitting against the east side of Napa Valley with gorgeous view of the Mayacamas Mountains.

We started the day at the Cabernet Cook-Off with a Sauvignon Blanc – cool, crisp and full of acidity to set up your palate for the ensuing delightful tastes from the chefs and restaurants participating. The challenge again was which bite paired best with the HALL 2013 Cabernet, a wine from the famous 2013 vintage. This wine is structured, well-balanced, and plush on the palate.

The tasty bites ranged from pasta to shrimp to lamb to ribs – must I go on? The wild boar bite from the Sacramento Experience & Food Literacy Team was my favorite. The offering was explosive and dynamic with spice and rich meat flavors that paired beautifully with the Cabernet.

The wines of HALL are rich and approachable, and I highly recommend a visit. You don’t need an appointment, so you can step in and step up to taste through their current offerings and see what pleases your palate best. They’re located on Highway 29, just south of Saint Helena.

HALL is known for its notable art pieces, such as the beautiful big silver rabbit at its entrance. Art adorns the property, and it a beautiful setting. Yet nothing is as big as the heart for the fun and charitable work they do.


How Great Can a $25 Wine Taste?

Pretty darn good! Just opened a beautiful bottle of Garnacha from Spain. Specifically, this was a 2013 from Bodegas Alto Moncayo, located in the area covered by the Campo de Borja Denominacion de Origen (DO, wine quality standard). They don’t just meet the standard, they exceed it. This is a winery that has been on my radar for several years, and I have been enjoying the consistent outstanding quality of their wine.

The winery itself was founded in 2002 with the aim of turning it into a world reference for Garnacha wines of the highest quality, prepared from native vine clones. I think that they are on the right track.

What I opened was the 2013 Alto Moncayo Veraton. This is a rich and expressive wine that is beautifully aromatic and sweeps across the palate with broad black current and black cherry fruit. The challenge here is to stop drinking it as the wine beckons you back for more. Run — don’t walk — to your fine wine store to have them bring these wines in for you. It is well worth your time for the value and drinking enjoyment.



The Taste of Howell Mountain 2016

This is one of my favorite events of the year. Over 40 wineries that make wine from vineyards on Howell Mountain come together to raise money for Howell Mountain Elementary School. Clearly, it is a charity event that displays the heart of these winemakers and owners as they contribute time, energy, wine, and special auction lots to support the education of the children who learn at the school.

The benefactors though are more than the kids. We, enjoyers of great wine, are given an outstanding opportunity to taste their wine as well as meet the winemakers and owners who call this mountain their home. More than a tasting, it is an event to vie for special bottles through the silent auction and to bid for one of a kind wine collections or wine experiences to treat yourself (and possibly friends) during the live auction. The energy and bidding is fast and fun!

It all takes place in the casual setting of Charles Krug Winery. It is set in an open lawn area surrounded by trees. There is tasty food to pair with the wines and live music. Quite frankly, I wonder who could want for anything more. I have this event on my calendar every year. It happens on Father’s Day weekend each year and is really a fitting gift! Plan on visiting the Napa Valley on June 17, 2017 to take part in this fun and charitable event!