Tasting the Journey (Napa Valley Wines)

Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening for two, a girls night out, a social event for a group of friends, or somewhere to mingle if you’re single–the wine tasting at Grand View Lodge is a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday evening.
The tasting is a perfect way for the non-wine drinkers to try something new and for the frequent wine drinkers to learn something more. I enjoy a glass of wine once in a while, but don’t know much about it and rarely try something new. So, on Friday, October 29, my friend Erica and I ventured to the Headwaters Wine Cellar at Grand View for the wine tasting that night.
As you walk down into the cellar, its intimate setting instantly relaxes you. A gourmet plate of cheese and crackers welcome you, along with the smiles of Tim, our sommelier, and his occasional sidekick, Tess. As we nibbled on our cheeses, Erica and I took a seat next to a very friendly couple from Indiana. We chatted with them as others trickled in and took our seats.
After Tim completed his final preparations, we went on a tour of the cellar. The cellar, where all white and red wines are stored, houses 1,998 different wines when it’s full. We finished our tour and took our places so the tasting could begin. Just as Tim began talking, a woman hurriedly walked into the cellar apologizing for her tardiness. Tim casually dismissed her apology with a wave of his hand and a grin on his face, making reference to the informality of the night. The truth is, Tim’s pretty laidback; after all, he did mention that he makes a living out of drinking wine. Lucky guy.
As Tess poured our first glass of wine, Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc, Tim invited us to take a journey with him through the grape vines in Napa Valley, California. He taught us the four steps of how to evaluate wine: color/clarity, aroma profile, flavor profile and texture. We briefly touched on each of these steps for each of the six bottles we tasted. Also, it seemed that for each wine we tried, Tim had a fun fact or a silly story to share with us. This kept the tasting light-hearted, interesting, and anything but dull.
Following the Sauvignon Blanc, we tried the Raymond Chardonnay, which had more of a buttery vanilla flavor compared to the Cakebread’s hint of grapefruit. And then, our first red wine of the evening, Steele Stymie Syrah. He taught us to hold our glass, slightly tip it to the side and slowly swirl it, the Syrah will “paint” your glass purple, revealing its high alcohol content. The next two reds were the popular Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both, to me, tasted dry and musty. The Cab, however, if opened about an hour or so before drinking, becomes less potent, making it more enjoyable to drink.
And last, but not least, we tasted the Hendry Zinfandel, which was my favorite red of the night. Tim informed us that this wine had the highest alcohol content, maybe that’s why it’s my favorite! But really, I found this wine to be smooth for a red, which I like. I’m still trying to acquire a taste for most red wine, so I’m glad we tasted four reds and only two whites. I’m excited I was able to find a red that I enjoy.
Tim’s knowledge of wine, one could tell, reaches far beyond the point of what he shared with us that night. He is one of the reason’s our wine tastings are unlike any other. His attentiveness to each individual impressed me. Someone could interrupt him or ask a question completely off topic and he would do everything he could to answer the question to our satisfaction.
by Kelli Brown