Napa Valley's Long Meadow Ranch Offers a Memorable Tasting Experience and a Lot of Good Wine
Over the last 25 years, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time touring and tasting in Napa Valley, and each time I go out I do my best to hit as many producers as possible that I haven't yet seen. Of course I’m sniffing out great wine, but I’m also on the hunt for wonderful experiences. So when I was headed out to Napa a few weeks back I made appointments at some really intriguing sounding spots. One of them was Long Meadow Ranch.
The modern history of Long Meadow Ranch dates back to 1989 when the Hall family purchased the property which now amounts to 650 acres in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains. The winery sits on that property, as do some of the vineyards and other plantings. Including land in two other counties, the Hall family now farms more than 2,000 acres in all — grapes for their wines as well as produce of all sorts for Farmstead, their St. Helena restaurant, and produce and other goods for their café and general store.
The views from the front of the winery are stunning, and we enjoyed the first of their wines there. Afterwards, we made our way inside, where we tasted a fair number of other wines from their portfolio alongside a well-appointed cheese and charcuterie platter.
The entire experience was relaxed and convivial. Tasting the wines was like attending an intimate private party in a secluded mountain hideaway. We tasted, we snacked, we discussed, and we joked. In all, we spent roughly two hours diving into the Long Meadow Ranch experience.
The wines, produced in small quantities and mostly available only at the winery itself, are distinct from one another, well-made, and delicious. Long Meadow also offers several wine club membership options that include varying amounts of wine shipped to members throughout the year, as well as perks like party invitations and guest cottage access.
I recommend that you visit Long Meadow the next time you’re in Napa Valley. Experience the warm hospitality, bucolic surroundings, and fine wines — a well-priced visit and tasting experience at $75 per person. Odds are that you’ll want to walk away with some wine and maybe be inspired to join their club. It’s that sort of place, one you’ll want to be sure you return to sooner rather than later.
The range of wines Long Meadow produces has some expected offerings such as cabernet sauvignon (this is Napa after all), as well as some you won’t see coming, such as pinot noir blanc. You’ll have your favorites — I did — but there’s not a dud in the lineup.
Pinot Noir Blanc 2015 ($55)
You’ll most often find pinot noir vinified white in sparkling wines, but Long Meadow decided to produce a still version. The fruit came from their Anderson Valley property. A mere 112 cases were produced. Hints of strawberry are evident on the nose along with Golden Delicious apple. Bartlett pear and spice notes mark the firm palate. Dried apricot, white pepper, and bits of citrus appear on the finish. This wine is crisp, refreshing, and delightful.
2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($55)
The fruit came from their Rutherford Estate; only 112 cases were produced. The welcoming nose features citrus zest and a hint of white pepper. Yellow melon and peach characteristics dominate the palate. The long finish shows off bits of dust, pepper and lemon ice. What really stands out here is the substantial texture and mouthfeel of this sauvignon blanc.
2013 Cabernet Franc ($75)
With a teeny 52-case production, this cabernet franc is from Long Meadow’s Mayacamas estate. Cherry aromas and a burst of leather leap from the nose here. The deeply layered palate is stuffed with plum, raspberry, and lots of spice. Chicory, black pepper, and earth are all evident on the impressive finish.
2012 Merlot ($75)
Some 247 cases of this Mayacamas estate merlot were produced. Violet, red cherry, and plum aromas dominate the nose. The palate is strewn with oodles of black cherry, spice, and hints of savory herbs. The long, firm finish has depth to spare. Continuing red and black fruit notes are joined by dark chocolate and chicory notes. This is a well-structured merlot that will drink well for another five years.
2013 Sangiovese ($75)
The winery produced 250 cases of this sangiovese, using grapes from their Mayacamas estate. If you count up the exceptional examples of Napa Valley sangiovese on one hand, you’ll have a few fingers left over, but this is one of them. Leather and cherry aromas abound on the nose. Strawberry, cherry, cinnamon, and bits of clove are evident on the palate. The long finish shows off earth, red raspberry, and a dusting of bitter cocoa.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($125)
This cabernet is a barrel selection from Long Meadow’s Mayacamas estate, produced in a quantity of 300 cases. Violets, black plum, and raspberry lead the way here. The core is loaded with black fruit, spice, minerals, and earth. These elements all continue through the long, firm finish. The wine is delicious now, but will improve over the next four to six years and drink well for at least five years after that.