Joel Vincent

Technology. Wine. Family. (maybe not in that order)

Speaking of Appellation Matters – ‘ULTIMATE’ Open House

In response to the post on “Appellation Matters”, I received an announcement for an event this weekend that sounds pretty interesting.  I can’t make it up to St. Helena this weekend but I do have some friends headed up there so I thought I’d go ahead an post info on this event.  Its a tasting event ambitiously named the “Ultimate Open House” and designed to exhibit all of St. Helena’s great wines.  Pouring at the event will be Anomaly Vineyards, (one of our favorites —>) Ballentine Vineyards, Casa Nuestra Winery, Charter Oak Winery, Chase Cellars, Chiarello Family Vineyards, Crocker & Starr Wines, D.R. Stephens, David Fulton Winery, Edge Hill, Ehlers Estate, Heitz Wine Cellars, James Johnson Vineyards, Merryvale Vineyards, Milat Wine Company, Parry Cellars,  Revana Family Vineyard, Ruston Family Vineyards, Salvestrin Vineyard & Winery, Sequum, Spottswoode Winery, Titus Vineyards, Trinchero Family Estates, Varozza Vineyards, Vineyard 29, Whitehall Lane Winery and William Cole Vineyards.  



Unusual opportunity to taste in a century-old walnut orchard on a historic estate—never open to the public— in the middle of St. Helena

 St. Helena, spring 2005—The St. Helena Viticultural Society is throwing The Ultimate Open House:

When:             Sunday, June 5, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Where:            The historic Crocker Estate in St. Helena, 415 Dowdell Lane (in partnership with Crocker & Starr Wines)

Who:               Thirty wineries who produce wines grown within the St. Helena appellation

How:               Tickets are $25.00/person and can be purchased online at or at the door of the event. The $25 cost includes a $10 tax-deductible donation to St. Helena youth groups, including the St. Helena High School’s Future Farmers of America program and Girl Scout troops.

 “You’ll really be able to taste the flavor of the St. Helena community,” event chair Pam Simpson of Chase Family Cellars explains. “We’re calling this the ‘Ultimate Open House’ because we will be pouring current and library releases of St. Helena-appellation wineries and offering great music and food and great camaraderie, as well as historical displays,’” she adds.

 The open house will take place at the historic Crocker estate, one of Napa Valley’s most beautiful ‘ghost wineries.’  The tasting unfolds in a dramatically handsome walnut orchard, which had been a commercial walnut grove at the turn of the twentieth century. The surrounding vineyards are lushly planted to Bordeaux varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. At the southern border of the ghost-winery estate is a picturesque chapel, once part of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

 This is the unusual setting for the tasting of more than 30 wines from the St. Helena appellation, accompanied by food served by St. Helena youth groups. The Crocker estate is located at the end of Dowdell Lane, one half mile south of Pope Street on Hwy. 29 in St. Helena.

This event takes place the day after Auction Napa Valley, where the Society will be offering Lot 444, a multi-day extravaganza of experiences in the St. Helena appellation, including a collection of 32 magnums from the Society’s members. Stop by for the complete details.

After a 128-year hiatus grape growers and wineries in St. Helena have revived the St. Helena Viticultural Society, to educate people about and to promote the St. Helena appellation. Vintners and growers in the St. Helena appellation began meeting in the summer of 2004. They have already participated as a group at a trade tasting in St. Helena on the weekend of the Napa Valley Vintners’ Premiere Napa Valley, at the St. Helena Hospital fundraising auction, at a KQED/San Francisco Museum of Modern Art event and at the St. Helena Hometown Harvest Festival. The group’s website is regularly updated with news of its activities and members.

The St. Helena appellation was approved in 1995; the appellation is roughly defined by Zinfandel Lane to the south, Bale Lane to the north, the intersection of Howell Mountain and Conn Valley Road to the east and the 400’ elevation line on the west. “We formed this group to focus the public on the exceptional quality of the wines produced within the St. Helena appellation,” explains Beth Novak Milliken. “The St. Helena appellation has a number of unique features—its history, its community, its very specific geographic and climactic conditions, the large number of wineries and growers it supports and the diversity of the varietals we grow,” she adds. “Our goal is to increase awareness of the grapes and wines from the St. Helena appellation,” she said.

The group has brought an ‘old’ St. Helena growers’ group back to life. The St. Helena Viticultural Society was organized by H.A. Pellet and Charles Krug in 1876; its members included Connelly Conn, Charles Wheeler, R.A. Haskin, C. Heyman, J.H. McCord, H.W. Crabb, Dr. G.B. Crane, Seneca Ewer, J.C. Weinberger, John Thomann, John Llewelling, Oscar Schultz, John York and D.O. Hunt.  By the early 1880s there were over 100 members, people who grew grapes and made wine in St. Helena. “In fact, it was Charles Krug who urged at the very first meeting of the Club that to win the respect of wine connoisseurs on the East Coast it was not enough just to declare that we own possibly the best soil and climate on earth for growing grapes.  We must harvest and produce from this appellation wines made from the world’s best varieties.  The direction for St. Helena was forever set at that meeting,” explains Fulton Mather, Chair, History Committee.


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