Sunday, November 17, 2013

More Napa Adventures

Hall Wines, St. Helena
In Napa for the Napa Valley Film Festival,  my husband and I took a side trip through the glorious reds and golds of autumn to visit Hall Wines in St. Helena. We were there to find out about the winery's state-of-the-art winemaking techniques that utilize an optical sorter to select the optimal grapes to make the finest cabernet sauvignons, merlots and sauvignon blancs, along with equipment that uses gravity in the winemaking process.

Historic stone building recently renovated by owners Kathryn and Craig Hall.

Director of Winemaking Steve Leveque, who got his start at the venerable Robert Mondavi Winery, said he's endlessly fascinated with perfecting wine using the latest technology. But at harvest time, there's no substitute for the human palate--the winemaker with the discerning taste buds who knows which grapes have arrived at the peak of perfection for creating that year's vintage. And, once the fermenting, bottling and aging is complete, Leveque says the highest compliment is hearing someone say, "This is delicious."

Winemaker Steve Leveque explains how ginormous stainless steel containers
regulate the temperature of wines during the fermenting process.
Several of the wines are sold nationally, but many are available only at the winery or through membership. My favorites included a crisp 2012 sauvignon blanc, available for $22, and the 2010 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon, more pricey at $125, but definitely in the delicious category.

French oak barrels awaiting the 2013 vintage wine.

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