Napa’s Historic Flora Springs: CA Wine

Seems like California Wine Month this September sped by: somehow tomorrow is the final day of a month’s worth of festivities up and down the state!

Here are a few of the concluding events:

Cave Dweller Party: Sept. 30, 2017.
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards, Napa. Cost: $95

Trefethen Harvest Boot Camp: Sept. 30, 2017.
Trefethen Family Vineyards, Napa Valley. Cost: $40-$160

Wine Tasting Pavilion at the Kelseyville Pear Festival Sept 30, 2017.
Kelseyville Pear Festival, Lake County.

Temecula Valley CRUSH
Monte De Oro Winery, Temecula Valley. Cost: $79-$110

As California Wine Month comes to a close, I wanted to feature one of the more historic wineries in California:  Flora Springs Winery in Napa Valley.

While Flora Springs has been around for almost 40 years,  the heritage there goes back much further — about  150 years!

With an epidemic that killed many of California’s vines plus Prohibition, only a few of the many California wineries survived the 1930s: the rest became “ghost wineries.” As Governor Jerry Brown points out in his proclamation about California Wine Month:

The greatest setback in the development of our modern wine industry occurred during the federal prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933.

Much of the diversity and quality that the industry’s founders had built was lost during this period as growers replaced wine varietals with table grapes.

Others shipped concentrated products for the home production of grape juice, accompanied by “warnings” detailing the steps one would avoid if one did not wish the product to ferment into wine.

The industry also returned to its religious roots, in a way, as shipments of sacramental wine increased substantially under the new laws. Some California vintners were able to remain in continuous operation by shifting production to this market.

Some, like Flora Springs, were revived with the renaissance of wine in California following the Judgement of Paris which proved that California wine is something special. Read more about Ghost Wineries here including a list of several prominent wineries that are considered Ghost Wineries.

Jerry Komes actually intended to simply be a “gentleman farmer” union his retirement as President of Bechtel from the Bechtel Corporation. Growing wine grapes in idyllic Napa Valley sounded like just the ticket. But when his wife Flora fell in love with an old winery along with the dilapidated buildings and had a vision to restore it, he went along for the ride. His son and daughter in law, Julie and John Komes, had the drive to make wine from the vines.

While you may have visited the tasting room in downtown St. Helena in the heart of Napa Valley or at least driven by and seen the HUGE Flora Springs seal, the historic winery is actually located a few miles away and is not typically opened to the public and is named to honor both the abundant springs on the property and the name of the mother of the founder. One of these days, I’ll get there and share some photos with you!

In the meantime, let me tell you about four of the wines we tasted recently and the food we paired them with. For our food pairing, we decided to focus on fresh fall California fare prepared on the grill:

2016 – Flora Springs – Sauvignon Blanc – Napa Valley – 14% alcohol – $25

Where ever you go in Napa, you will likely be greeted with a glass of Sauvignon blanc. This is the wine that is generally the first wine you’ll sample in the tasting room, first wine served at an event, and it’s a great first wine for the first course of dinner because a good Sauvignon blanc like this one prepares and excites your taste buds and gets you ready for what is to come. This wine from Flora Springs is that and more. It is exactly what you expect and want from a Napa Sauvignon blanc: crisp, refreshing, vivid, and easy to get along with in terms of appetizers or other first courses. When paired with crusty French bread and a good chevre, you’ll be temporarily transported to heaven.

While Chardonnay can make a nice greeter wine, many need food to really shine, and at that, the right appetizers. Many Chardonnay wines love richer flavors and smokey foods– which may not how you want to start everything off.

Color – pale straw

Nose – Grassy with a bit of gooseberry citrus marshmallow grapefruit. This is not a peachy  –

Palate – Great with oysters, really perfect with oysters, brings out the sweetness of the oyster and tames the salinity beautiful pairing, also wonderful with the goat cheese and sundries tomato crostini. (tomatoes are in season, you may have a great deal of them in the garden, making oven dried tomatoes and covering them with olive oil, keep a jar in the refrigerator for and easy last minute appetizer). also such a nice pairing, when a pairing works, it can be magic, clean crisp refreshing. The sauv blanc did not do as well with the chard did with the artichoke dip.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Thank you!

2016 – Flora Springs – Family Select – Chardonnay – Napa Valley – 14.0% alcohol

Color:  Really nice color straw hay color — color of moonlight — glows like moonlight, very pretty

Nose: opens nicely — at first but then the oak integrates nicely leaving a rich full bodied for a white wine and it stands up to rich food it’s a bit oaky at first

Plentiful tropical fruit particularly fresh guava of the tree and pineapple –again fresh no syrup, some coconut

early qualities —clean fresh not bracing, or acidic

Bottom line: why do we like this wine: really really nice with food; this not my choice of a cocktail; good with creamier sauces; lobster tail; caesar salad — fatty foods; it has a fatty richness so when served with fatty richer foods the fruit shine — contrasts

Nose – oak and vanilla

Palate – this wine would be fantastic with a triple cream brie and a slice of pear. We decided that the chard was not doing much with our cheese plate so we pulled out some smoked salmon with mascarpone and capers, and the artichoke feta spinach dip from Great Basin Bakery. It worked alright with the oyster, the same way that champagne made out of chardonnay works, but the bubbles do so much more. It went nicely with our artichoke dip, it brings out the fruit in the wine and the peppery qualities in the dip,  and makes it so much more enjoyable than either are on their own. It also went quite nicely with our smoked salmon with mascarpone and capers, again bringing out nice fruit in the wine, the smokiness in the wine submits to the smoke of the oak in the chard allowing the fruit to shine. We need to find a good recipe for this so we can make it on our own because it is so good with Chardonnay.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Thank you!

The most difficult thing about deciding what to open first when you have two vintages of the same wine is which one first. I like to do the youngest first and then move on to the older possibly more smoother wine. We decided to do the 2014 before the 2013 for tonight’s tasting.

2014 – Flora Springs – Cabernet Sauvignon – 14.2% alcohol – $40

color – dense, ruby red

nose – cherry, cherry cola, vanilla and oak.

palate – cherry, cherry cola, with food nice herbal qualities come out. Went nicely with the smoked salmon mascarpone and capers. One of my favorites was when we had a piece of roasted garlic with the sundried tomato oil. The price point of this wine is in there with many wines that boutique wineries sell their cabs for. I liked the wine with the aged gouda, the wine can really handle strong flavored cheeses. I also liked this wine with the great basin pecans, the spicy sweet umami of the nuts went so well with this cab.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Thank you!

2013 – Flora Springs – Cabernet Sauvignon- 14.2% alcohol – $40

color – beautiful dense ruby red

nose –  oak, cherry, pepper, oak, dr. pepper,

palate – more minerals and a bit more tannins, the sea salt in our crostini’s were apparent with this wine. Both of these wines were consistent in flavor and balance. This wine is a reflection of what the 2014 will be like in one year. I am wondering if the 2012 is going to reflect what the 2014 will be like in 2 years.  The spicy flavors of the nuts mellowed out the spiciness of the wine and brought out beautiful fruit. Using these nuts in a beet salad with a bit of goat cheese would be fantastic with this wine.

Either one of the cabs can be enjoyed now or laid down.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Thank you!

Happy California Wine Month! Cheers! Now tell us, what’s in YOUR glass?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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