Darioush 4240 Silverado Trail, in Napa, (707) 257-2345. Tasting daily 10:30-5; tours by appt.
This ultra-premium estate winery features dramatic Persian architecture evocative of Persepolis, the capital of ancient Persia, but also reminiscent of the grandeur of Egyptian monuments. Design features include 16 freestanding 18-foot columns at the entrance, and yellow travertine stone quarried near Persepolis surrounds the building. A small and charming amphitheatre is available for performances and events. The spectacular tasting room is in the center of a high-ceilinged temple-like room and features a “wall of water”; a gift shop displays dearly-priced exquistite and exotic wares along with inexpensive glasses made from wine bottles. Noted for its Bordeaux-style estate wines, the winery is one of the few that makes a 100% Cabernet Franc wine (it is available only at the winery).
Participants in the “Fine Wines, Artisan Cheeses Tour” gather in a posh VIP lounge where tasting begins with a tropical Rhine-style 2009 Viognier--described as a “white wine for red wine drinkers” and excellent with shellfish, sushi, and spicy food. Pours are generous throughout. Then it is out to the vineyards where we learn that they “drop 60% of the grapes. We’re talking rabbit food.” No machines are involved in caring for the grapes. Then it is into the cellar barrel room, where one wine is described as like “chocolate espresso, its huge color is like blood.” Guide Diana Lasso says, “Wine is meant to be savored over conversation. It is not beer.” And by the end of the tasting, we’re all sharing some details of our lives and reaping the enjoyment of sharing wine with others.
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image ©2010 Carole Terwilliger Meyers