One of Napa Valley’s Most Stunning Wine Properties: Somerston Estate
Photos courtesy of Somerston Estate
To visit Somerston Estate in Napa Valley’s eastern Vaca Mountains is to fully grasp its magnitude. Picturesque and majestic, its 1,682 acres undulate over hill and dale at elevations ranging from 800 to 1,650 feet. Considered one of Napa’s great wine properties, the vineyard estate is impressive, significant, and diverse.
Established privately in 2007 by three families, the estate combines two historic properties, Priest Ranch and Lynch Ranch. 244 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards include 144 individual blocks from which two distinct wine brands are produced, Somerston Estate and Priest Ranch.
Craig Becker is co-founder, general manager, and director of viticulture and winemaking. He farms the property with precision and the singular goal of pulling the greatest potential out of each site. With each Somerston Estate vintage, Becker identifies the highest quality blocks to produce limited quantity, block-designate wines of complexity, depth, structure, and long-term ageability.
“This estate produces fruit so distinctive that it requires only minimal processing," says Becker, whose emphasis on sustainability is reflected throughout the property by a diversified ecosystem, woodlands, artesian springs, row crops, and grass-fed Dorper sheep. Two stunning examples of the estate’s propensity for quality and intensity are the 2015 Somerston Cabernet Sauvignon Block XCVI, and the 2016 Somerston Cabernet Sauvignon Block LX. The former is derived from a two-acre vineyard with steep, well drained, rocky soils. Wines from this site are powerful, with exceptional structure, richness and aromatics. Only 300 cases of this wine were produced.
The latter comes from the highest vineyard on the Somerston Estate, spanning less than one acre and at 1550 feet. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in this vineyard progress effortlessly to ideal ripeness, creating a dark, rich, and fruit forward wine. A mere 87 cases of this wine were produced.
Wine lovers owe it to themselves to sample these and other Somerston Estate wines at either the estate, or at the Priest Ranch tasting room in Yountville. Located 10 miles east of the Silverado Trail, the estate features wine tasting and small plate pairings. The 90-minute private tasting requires a 7-day advance reservation. Visitors can also choose to make a reservation for a private, guided 90-minute outdoor experience that includes a property tour followed by a tasting ($75) or tasting/picnic lunch ($125).
The Priest Ranch tasting room at 6490 Washington Street in downtown Yountville offers both Priest Ranch and Somerston Estate wine tastings, in addition to unique culinary pairings, an art gallery showcasing local artists, a serene outdoor patio, and private event space. Tastings range in price from $30 to $100, and can include the infamous Bacon & Wine Experience or elegant Caviar and Bubbles Experience. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., reservations can be made online via Tock.