Napa Day 2: Merry Edwards, Hartford, Keever, Hopper Creek, and a Chef's Tasting at AVIA

Last Friday, we went to four wineries: Merry Edwards, Hartford Family, Keever, and Hopper Creek. Each one was unique, and this made for a busy day of tasting great wine and meeting great people.

We were so overbooked that we didn’t eat lunch. That’s a lot of wine without eating, Thanks to the chef Chris Aken at AVIA Kitchen who filled us with scrumptious food and more food–and more wine, after our long day of tasting.

Here are the highlights:

Merry Edwards
: We spent some time talking to Merry and her husband, Ken Coopersmith about how their company came to be. We tasted five of her famous pinot noirs and two sauvignon blancs (one was a late harvest). I fell in love with the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, which I wanted to keep in my mouth forever, let it live there, again and again. So we bought cases of it. (More on the wine later.)

Hartford Family
: Here we got to sit down to taste with Tom Rozner, VP of Sales.  Tom discussed several of Hartford’s offerings as well as the specifics of the AVA that each came from.  He also gave us a tour of their on-site production facility.  We tasted three chardonnays, two pinot noirs, and two zinfandels.  These came from different vineyards throughout the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast.  We ended up taking home the Seascape Chardonnay 2007 and Hartford Vineyard Old Vine Russian River Vally Zinfandel 2007.

: Majestic views in Yountville. About 10 years ago, the Keever family had the vision to turn an old horse farm into a vineyard with some of the best views of the valley. Bill and Olga Keever and as well as their son, Jason, and daughter, Ashley, all work for the winery. This is truly a family-owned business–and it shows. We loved hanging out with their dog, Bones, and checking out their small, hands-on production process. Their 2007 Estate Cabernet was one of the best we had. A great find that not many people know about it.

Hopper Creek: This place is all about the vibe: low-key, hip, and young. You don’t feel like you’re in Napa when you’re here–in a good way. The young staff are friendly and passionate about their wines. Dan, the tasting room/sales manager, will tell you everything you want to know about the wine and the winery–and he’ll do it, drinking a tall boy of Bud Light. Anyone who thinks wine is intimidating hasn’t been here. We left with a bottle of their Estate Cabernet.

AVIA Kitchen
: This meal was incredible.  Our favorites were the portobello mushroom fries, warm mozzarella and heirloom tomato salad, and crispy soft-shelled crab. When General Manager Kristine Youngberg told us, “My staff will keep bringing you food until you tell them to stop,” she wasn’t kidding. We kept eating and drinking. We even got to try some specialty cocktails from the soon-to-open Riddling Rack bar, which we saw in construction and can’t wait to go back to see it complete.

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