I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am for the experience I stumbled upon at Saintsbury. So unique because I got to meet cellar master, Jaime and his cellar hand Martin while topping off barrels of the 2017 vintage where they let me taste through them ALL (should’ve taken a cab). From these barrels the winemaker will choose his selection of the best blend or which will be a bottling all it’s own known as, you guessed it, barrel selection. It was a rare opportunity and shows firsthand the distinctions that make one vineyard, Toyon in Carneros (inland) for example, so different from Donnelley Creek in Anderson Valley (coastal).
Having sold these wines in the past I’m already well-familiarized with the quality and caliber of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay being produced here, and being that they are in Carneros it makes sense these wines are their sole focus. Outside of the lead item, Carneros Pinot Noir, the next tier up showcases some of the best vineyards while also featuring clonal selection (and it doesn’t get any more specific than this). Their lineup shows just the range that can be done with a single varietal AND the best expressions at that.
*maps from Sainstbury website – Trade
The winery itself is modest and tucked away right off the 12 as you head into Napa. Sitting down for a tasting you’ll find yourself immersed in every aspect of the day-to-day’s of a humble winery. You’ll have trees and flowers on every side of you while just beyond that the office to one side, the barrel room and tanks on another and vineyards wrapping the whole experience in to one. If you’re a club member or just looking for something more intimate make sure to explore the tasting experience in the barrel room, a little more secluded with your own private views of the vineyards and personal host walking you through the tasting experience. This one is a gem and I find myself coming back often.
*Special thanks to: Jamie, cellar master; Martin, cellar-hand; Gary Van Ostren, director of marketing; Alicia and Jacob in hospitality