An Adventure Into Lovall Valley
Grieve Family Vineyards
Can a part of Napa only be accessible by way of Sonoma? Impossible, I think. I review my directions again. You see, I live in Napa. Today I am heading to a winery called Grieve Family Vineyards. I know Sonoma pretty well, but I’ve never heard having to go to Sonoma to get back to a one way in, one way out Napa. Hoping Waze, the map app is not messing with my mind; let the journey begin.
The route is familiar heading to Sonoma until I get to a fork in the road. I’d almost like to head to the square, but another day. It begins to feel like I’m on a trip of the unexplored. You know the feeling when you’re traveling a road that you’ve never toured? Wide-eyed and taking it all in, the brain seems to capture new experiences with zeal and the memory always serves it well. The road is narrow and winding, and well off the beaten path. It’s like driving the Grand Prix. Welcome to Lovall Valley. There is a point in the road where Napa County, as in Napa Co. has been painted onto the road so you can see exactly where the counties meet.
Located north of Carneros as the Mayacama Mountains break, Lovall Valley was home to Indians in the 1800’s. The bowl-like valley is responsible for creating one of the coldest viticulture areas in Napa, much like the Sonoma Coast. The cold air settles in for the evening and remains longer than any other area in Napa. The soil is similar to France’s Bordeaux. It is a combination of clay and loam. Because of these dynamics, this is an ideal location for growing Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot grapes.
David Grieves, the proprietor, and owner of Grieve Family Vineyards, as well as his winemaker, Vance Rose shared insights about the land and their journey making wine together. I’ve been to scores of wine tastings, and they’re never a one size fits all. The pure delight is a tasting that bucks trends, creates surprise and where the wines taste very much like the sensual aromas they impart. On this warm sunny day, we are high above the valley floor overlooking the 12+ acres of Sauvignon Blanc under a hundred-year-old oak. The tasting includes five years worth of the Sauvignon Blancs, up to and including the 2014. To have both the Vintner and the Winemaker together discussing the wines and the process as well as asking for opinions on the various vintages was quite the interactive treat.
Grieves did not start out as a vintner. Having sold commercial real estate in San Francisco, he focused on his new home and the 70 acres he purchased in 2003. As he began exploring his vineyards and tasting the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes he grew more interested in the vines and the wine they could create. He started buying and sampling a variety of Sauvignon Blancs until he had a good handle on the wine. He then determined it time to make small lot wines and started Grieve Family Vineyards.
In 2008 he met Vance Rose, a well-versed winemaker, and food connoisseur. Together they are making world class wines including, Sauvignon Blanc and the Double Eagle, a red blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Including Vance Rose in the Grieve Family Vineyards winery was a brilliant play. Rose is a connoisseur of the kitchen as well. His cooking skills are as profound as his winemaking abilities. On this day we were treated to a multi-course gourmet meal prepared by Rose and paired with all of the wines. The food was spectacular, each course drawing more subtleties from the wine. The standout for the day? The Sauvignon Blanc.
Lovall Valley is one of Napa’s best kept secrets and with the Grieve Family delivering the exceptional wine they make; it won’t be a secret for long.
Sauvignon Blanc – This was a full-on sensory experience. From the moment the wine embraced my nose, to the palate it was fully engaged. While Sauvignon Blancs have a tendency to be more “meh” than change your life, this was definitely of the latter category. This lustrous wine will surprise you. From the remarkable floral notes to the melon and citrus, this wine is impressive. It seduces the nose and gives you a one-two punch of melon and bright citrus with a satisfyingly long, lingering finish. The tropical flavors are revealed like the moon as it rises. A little more light and color with every taste. It’s one of the most delightful Sauvignon Blancs I’ve had this year. Memorable and delightful. An experience for the senses. You’ll want to drink the entire bottle, but slowly savoring this wine is the best reward.