Larkmead Vineyards, on Larkmead Lane in south Calistoga, is a family-owned estate producer of premium Napa Valley red wines. On a recent Wine Adventure, I tasted a flight of their current releases and got to know a little about the operation.
Larkmead Vineyards is a small producer (about 9,000 cases annually) of primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends that come from their own Napa Valley vineyards. Estate blocs include plantings of Cab, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Tocai Friulano*. The vineyards began operation in 1895 and have been under family ownership ever since. Wines are not widely distributed, about 95% of sales take place at the winery.
The tasting flight on my visit included four wines:
2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($60) Aged 9 months in 25% new oak.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) 100% Cab aged 20 months in 65% new oak.
2013 Firebelle ($125) Blend of 76% Merlot, 19% Cab and 5% Petit Verdot. Aged 20 months in 56% new oak.
2013 LMV Salon ($150) Blend of 74% Cab and 26% Cabernet Franc. Aged 20 months in 75% new oak.
Reservations are required to tour and taste (see contact information below). The visitor’s center, built in 2010, is small compared to those run by many of its neighbors, including Frank Family Vineyards just across the street. There is a small wine bar and tasting tables inside, plus an outdoor patio adjacent to the vineyards (see photos above). The tasting room crew is friendly and knowledgeable.
*Tocai Friulano is historically a northern Italian white wine grape that is also grown extensively in Chile. In 2007 the name used within Europe was changed to simply Friulano by an edict of the European Union. Tocai was considered too similar to the Hungarian wine grape Tokaji, which the EU considered to have clearer rights to the name.
Contact Larkmead Vineyards
Location: 1100 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515
Reservations: (707) 942-0167 Online: www.Larkmead.com