Napa Valley vintners take to the open seas

22nd August, 2013 by Catherine Seda Bugue

Fifty Napa Valley Vintners lined the top deck of a US WWII ship used in the Normandy invasion this past week in an event organised around the Louis Vuitton Cup finals of the 34th America’s Cup.

Trade and press aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien for the Napa Valley tasting

Trade and press aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien for the Napa Valley tasting

There was no race scheduled during the tasting event, so trade and media guests of the Napa Valley Vintners trade association had their full attention on the vintners and the almost 140 wines they were pouring.

Manning stations were Russ Weis, General Manager of Silverado Vineyards; Amelia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards; Sam Baxter, General Manager and winemaker of Terra Valentine, Herta Peju of PEJU Winery; Diana Schweiger of Schweiger Vineyards; and many other top vintners along with great wines such as those from Broman, Beaulieu, Blackbird, Ca’Momi, Clif Family, Flora Springs, Newton, Keenan, Porter, Round Pond, Signorello, and Storybook Mountain.

Called a Liberty Ship, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien is a National Historic Landmark. These ships were based on ones used by Britain to replace torpedoed versions during the war. There are only two fully functional ships like this one, of the 2,710 built and launched in WWII. The O’Brien, classified as a Cargo Ship, was first launched on June 19, 1943. The ship remains unaltered from its wartime service making a trip aboard a historical journey back almost seven decades ago. The ship still travels out onto the bay for visitors and special events.

Pairing well with that day with battleship gray were these stand out wines:

Cultivar 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, with pronounced tropical fruit flavours along with sweet orange citrus. Cultivar is owned by Jody Harris of Caspar Estate and sister, Virginia Gables. The winemaker is Julien Fayard of Atelier Melka, Fayard and Azur Wines.

Herta Peju of Peju Winery

Herta Peju of Peju Winery aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien with San Francisco Bay in the background

Ceja Vineyards 2009 Carneros Pinot Noir is beautifully balanced with plenty of red fruit, a silky palate, refreshing acidity and integrated oak flavours. The wine matured in barrels (10% new, the rest neutral) for 23 months.

Storybook Mountain Vineyards 2011 Napa Valley Viognier has pronounced flavours of exotic, tropical fruits with refreshing, balanced acidity. The winery is renowned in Napa Valley for producing intensely flavoured and long-ageing wines, especially their zinfandels. That grape was first planted on their property in the 1880s.

Terra Valentine 2011 Spring Mountain Riesling While only 200 cases are produced, it is worth trying to find a bottle of this wine. A visit to the winery, up in the western hills of St. Helena, provides stunning views, a historic stone building and lots of beautiful stained glass.

Tetra 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley has rich, fresh black fruit flavours with a dusty, spicy finish. As the name implies, the wine blends four varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Napa Valley is the official wine region of the 34th America’s Cup and the NVV has created a website sailnapavalley.com to provide America’s Cup visitors from around the world with information for a special Napa Valley side trip from San Francisco.

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