There are so many amazing wineries to choose from in the Napa Valley, it can be hard to decide where to start. If it is your first time to wine country, it’s important to visit the wineries that helped make Napa Valley into the famous wine growing religion it is today. One of the most important founding wineries is Robert Mondavi Winery. Now, I am ashamed to say I had never been to Robert Mondavi Winery to taste before! (Do as I say not as I do!). On a lovely Thursday afternoon my friend Sam and I decided to book a tasting experience at this iconic Napa Valley Winery.
Founded in 1966 by Robert Mondavi, Robert Mondavi Winery has been celebrated as a hub of fine wine, food and art since its opening. Seeing the potential of the Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi helped to kick off the modern era of winemaking in California. Today, when visiting, you learn about the incredible history and impact of Robert Mondavi, all while taking in one of the most beautiful locations in the valley.
Sam and I were thrilled to enjoy the “To Kalon” wine tasting experience. The “To Kalon” tasting experience is named after the vineyard the grapes are sourced from, located next to the winery. The To Kalon vineyards, located in Oakville, are hailed as some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world. The To Kalon wines are the purest expression of Robert Mondavi Winery.
The COVID-19 protocols at Robert Mondavi Winery are very thorough, staff asked us questions about our potential exposure to COVID-19 and our temperatures were taken. Masks are required on property, once seated for your tasting, your mask can be removed. We were lead to our table by our host, located under an ancient oak tree overlooking the To Kalon vineyards.
Once seated we removed our masks and waited with great anticipation for the fun to begin. All the wines for our tasting were poured ahead of time, so we could revisit and compare them to each other (my favorite way to wine taste.) We were served the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (made with cab from the To Kalon Vineyards) and the 2017 To Kalon. We both take a quick sip of each wine and immediately know our favorite is the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. It is smooth, rich and smells like heaven in a glass.
As we settle into our wines our bites arrive. We are given three bites, each pair with all the wines in our tasting. First bite was the confitted eggplant (who knew?) on top of red pepper relish. The red pepper relish should be bottled and available for purchase, it’s that good! Next up is a trout croquette, Sam ate it so fast, I wasn’t even sure she got one. Last is braised quail, aged for five days with great depth of flavor. We both agreed, this food and wine pairing was one of the best we had ever had in Napa Valley. The 2015 Cab Sauv stands up beautifully to the quail; while the 2016 Cab melts in your mouth when paired with the trout croquette.
While sitting and sipping wine under the beautiful Napa Valley sky, it is easy to see how Robert Mondavi saw the potential of this valley. He envisioned a place that could produce world class wines and provide a world class hospitality experience. If you are visiting the Napa Valley for the first time or the 100th time, Robert Mondavi Winery is an experience not to be missed.
Yountville and Napa Valley businesses are taking COVID-19 very seriously and have many new procedures in place to make sure you are safe. Make sure you make a reservation, wear a mask until seated, and stay six feet apart while in public.