VIP Bubbly Tasting at Frank Family Vineyards
One of my most memorable wine-tasting experiences was an intimate tasting at Frank Family Vineyards with Tasting Room Manager Dennis Zablosky. Frank Family Vineyards makes both still and sparkling wine, and I had arranged in advance to have a private tasting of their sparkling wines. Upon arriving at the beautiful property, I was ushered into the inner sanctum for my tasting.
Frank Family makes five sparkling wines using the French méthod champenoise style: Brut; Blanc de Blanc (made from Chardonnay grapes); Blanc de Noir (made from Pinot Noir); Brut Reserve (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir); and Rouge (Pinot Noir). Each of these sparkling wines is exceptional and brings a smile to those who drink it. While I enjoy wine, I can’t imagine a world without champagne.
Dennis described the characteristics of each of the sparkling wines that he poured and allowed a few minutes to truly appreciate the flavors. Each glass of bubbly was perfectly balanced. Of California’s sparkling wine producers, Frank Family is one of the best, and a new favorite of mine. It is not surprising that each bottle is a labor of love and requires several years of aging in the bottle before it is available to consumers. Sparkling wine doesn’t need to be fussy – Dennis recommends pairing it with a BBQ meal. I happen to know that sparkling wine is appropriate for any occasion and even makes pizza taste better. For many years I have served the Rouge with my Thanksgiving dinner.
The winery is located in the historic Larkmead winery building, constructed in 1884 and listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It is also designated a Point of Historical Interest in the State of California and is the third-oldest winery in Napa. Tours are available of the winery. The property has old oak trees, picnic tables, the historic winery, and a tasting room.
The tasting room is one of the happiest tasting environments that I have visited. With Dennis’ leadership the winery is all about creating a memorable tasting experience. If you have a great experience at the winery you will become a loyal customer. During my tasting I got to meet several loyal customers purchasing cases of their favorite wine to enjoy. Don’t take my word for it, Frank Family Vineyards was voted Best Napa Winery in the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Best of the Bay” for 2010 and 2011.
About the Frank Family: Rich Frank, a long-time Disney executive, bought Kornell Champagne Cellars in 1992 along with partner Koerner Rombauer. His busy lifestyle didn’t allow for long trips so he began coming to the Napa Valley for relaxation. His love of wine and the wine country led him to desire his own winery.
While Kornell only produced sparkling wines, Frank Family Vineyards now produces award-winning still wines under the leadership of veteran winemaker Todd Graff. These include Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sangiovese and several distinctly different Cabernet Sauvignons. The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is barrel-aged for two and a half years and is emerging as one of the most sought-after wines in the valley. Their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon’s have received 93, 95 and 95+ ratings from Robert Parker. Sparkling wine is only available through the tasting room, and they don’t have a wine club. When you visit the winery and purchase wine it puts you on the list for future allocations of their new releases.
Details: Frank Family Winery is located at 1091 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, California. Visit their website for more information or to schedule your own VIP tour.