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The wine cave at Del Dotto's Historic Winery

The wine cave at Del Dotto’s Historic Winery

In my defense, I didn’t know I was a wine snob. I thought that wine was a beverage that assaulted your mouth, overwhelmed the taste buds, and left your palate like it had just been mugged. I was happy to drink hard cider or craft beer.

Then my spouse suggested we go to Napa to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Then we visited the Del Dotto Vineyard’s Napa Historic Winery. Then I discovered I was a wine snob._DSC0055

There are some things you need to know about Del Dotto Vineyards. First, they are not trying to make wine for the huddled masses. Sutter Home, Beringer, Robert Mondavi, Inglenook, etc., are the vineyards that have massive quantities of wine and seek to put a glass in everyone’s hand. Del Dotto Vineyards are microscopic compared to the 800 pound gorillas of California wine country. Instead of producing commercial wines, they produce fine art wines.

Del Dotto also does their wine tastings from the barrel for most of the tour. They do have wine that reached its prime bottling date and can be purchased the same day; however, a guest should note that they are probably not going walk away with wine in hand. If you wish to purchase the wine from any barrel, it will be shipped to you when the wine is bottled. The wine we tasted was anywhere from two weeks to three months from being corked.

Del Dotto's sculpture at the entrance to the wine cave

Del Dotto’s sculpture at the entrance to the wine cave

Finally, Del Dotto has two wineries. The one in Napa has the wine caves that were carved out in the 1800’s. We did not visit the other winery in St. Helena, but it offers both barrel tasting in a wine cave and bar tasting in the winery.

Our tour included wine aged in two different barrels. So what?

It was that exact same wine, or blend of wines, but they were aging one in a barrel made of French charred wood, and the same wine aged in American charred wood. I enjoyed the wine from all the barrels I tasted, but I preferred the French wood barrels over the American wood barrels. It is a great lesson in how the barrel influences the taste of the wine.

What I also discovered is that wine doesn’t have to make you feel like your mouth was taken down the alley and violated. The wines we tasted were full of flavor, but didn’t rampage through the mouth, nor feel like an oak moth just visited your tongue and left a deposit.

Later we visited another, well known winery, and they paraded out their best wines that were as expensive as the ones we tasted at Del Dotto’s. All of them reminded me of why I don’t drink wine.

I am not a wine expert. Nor do I have enough experience with the Napa area wineries to rank Del Dotto Vineyards with the cluster of wine tasting options in the region. What I do know is that their is a difference in the quality of wine and price is not always a good measure of quality.

At least I now know that I’m a wine snob and I know of at least one place I can find great wine.