Straddling two mountain AVA’s, where the Mayacamas and the Vaca Mountains meet, is a one of a kind view of the sometimes snow-capped Mount Saint Helena. 44th highest peak in the U.S. with an elevation of 4,342 feet as part of the Mayacamas. The Wappo Indians once called this land home. The Wappo settled in Napa Valley, about 2000 BC. They revered Mount Saint Helena. Their history holds a myriad of memories in a mystical part of the valley.
The air is fresh, the sky incredibly clear. The view, one of the most breathtaking you will encounter in Napa Valley. Located just above the intersection of Petrified Forest Road and Calistoga Road is Theorem Vineyards, and one of the most breathtaking views you will encounter in Napa Valley. Theorem Vineyards grows wine from two mountain AVA’s, Diamond Mountain and Moon Mountain adding to the unique nature of their brand.
Wine Country adventures offer so many different opportunities. For me it’s all about the most unique experiences. Whether on a quiet country road or the populated busy, sometimes wrought with frustration road. The busy venues can can shake your tasting. People have less time to listen. Your leisure time often goes from relaxed to hurried. This is why I prefer the smaller, less-trafficked wineries, which are “By Appointment Only.”
There are definitely days when spontaneous tastings are fun especially in groups. But when a winery expects you, the experience is more memorable and personal.
On my search for some of the most beautiful Napa Valley destinations, traveling to family-owned, by appointment wineries are the most rewarding…both in experience and personal touch. When I search for new places to visit I take all of these things into consideration.
The most important things to consider are the forces behind the wine. Namely, the proprietor who has the vision, the grower who cares for the vines and land, and the winemaker whose job is to bring the grapes to an unadulterated finish.
Most small wineries begin their journey with enthusiasts or past-pros ready to strike out on their own. Some have a passion for wine and want to turn that passion into a business. For founders Jason and Kisha Itkin it began when they started visiting Napa Valley in 2007. Like so many others before them, they fell in love with the Valley. In 2012 they were thinking of getting a second home. A place to stay when they visited family and friends here.
At the time, the vision was not to purchase a winery. Destiny would have other ideas. They were taken to a property in disrepair, overgrown abandoned vineyards with dilapidated buildings, and two historic yet neglected properties. As they began to unravel the layers of this property they learned of its significance.
Two of the most important buildings included a schoolhouse built in the 1800s and a home formerly owned by Napa Valley’s Dr. Richard Beverly Cole. The stately Victorian home had seen more dignified days. The doctor was a celebrated physician and an original bon vivant. He was one of the instigators of an idea while on the Outside Lands board to transform 1,000 acres of San Francisco land into a development known as none other than the Golden Gate Park. He was also the Surgeon General of the State of California.
Their paths crossed with a property in disrepair, with dilapidated buildings and a hodge-podge of quick fixes. But the bones were good, the size was right and there were vineyards. Initially they weren’t at all intrigued by the vineyards. They brought in two experts in the field, winemaker & vintner Thomas Rivers Brown and Josh Clark, a well respected vineyard manager. & grower. The vineyard was completely overgrown. They found Aiken Loam soil and the vines were Cabernet Sauvignon. After the evaluation the two had great news. The vines were well worth preserving. Those vines produce their flagship wine, Voire Dire (The Truth). The first vintage was aged in neutral oak so they could better evaluate the fruit. The return on their investment proved phenomenally good.
Today, the winemaking team consists of a master of 100 point wines, Thomas Rivers Brown as consulting winemaker and Kathleen Ward as assistant winemaker. Kathleen oversees the day to day in the winemaking at Theorem. Her background as both an enologist and winemaker has made her well equipped for the task of bringing up some of the newest most delightful wine produced in recent years.
The enthusiasm she exudes says as much about her joy of the work as it does about her disposition. Sunny smile, energetic verve and a drive to succeed are just a small part of her personality. She is at home in the vineyards. Her dedication to the wine is evident. From bud break to ripening she walks the vineyards each week monitoring the progress of the fruit. Sampling fruit from every cluster in each part of the row and vine to carefully monitor the progress.
The latest vintage of Sauvignon Blanc we tasted directly from the barrel. The aromas are compelling, the acidity full of life and telling the tale of idyllic mountain growing conditions at Theorem. The Sauvignon Blanc ferments initially in stainless steel, then is moved to the concrete egg. The egg, a two-ton cement repository imparts depth and volume as well as texture enhancing taste. It also will control the temperature which is important at this stage of winemaking.
My favorite part of the tasting, truly any tasting, is the pairing experience. It is here you get to know the depth, character and versatility of the wine. Enter Josh Mitchell, owner of Napa Valley Heritage Catering in Calistoga. He’s worked in some of the most notable restaurants in Napa Valley. The dishes he prepares are superb and the perfect fit for pairing for Theorem wine. For guests at Theorem, these pairing experiences create an unforgettable rendezvous of wine and food. My favorite part of the tasting, truly any tasting, is the pairing experience. Pairings included a rich lobster with a delectable sauce of creme fraiche, short ribs marinated and cooked to perfection, paired with the Voie Dire wine. Absolutely scrumptious!
Sojourn to the apex of Napa Valley. Adventuring up to Calistoga offers a wide array of wine riches including some boutique & family-owned small lot wineries.
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