“The Vineyardist”

“The Vineyardist”
Diamond Mountain
Napa Valley
May 28, 2012

     While researching our trip to Napa, I came across a new wine made by Mark Herold, who made wines in the late 90’s and early 00’s that garnered a lot of high scores from critics and thus attention from consumers, Merus, Buccella and Kobalt are just a few.  All fruit for this wine is from the estate vineyards high on Diamond Mountain in the northwestern part of the Napa Valley.  Immediately below are the tasting notes from two points in the day as we had a whole bottle over a day.  Notes and photos on the visit follow further below.

Wine opened 11:30am, tasted 1:15pm:

Color: A dark red core, with vibrant red edges.
Nose & palate: Violets, black cherries, red licorice,and black plum. Herbal notes, but in a seasoned sage, dried basil and rosemary way (read: not vegetal). Velvety medium grained tannins amass a nice structure, lending this wine a long finish that is fresh, fresh, fresh from the good acidity this wine has retained!

Tasted at dinner 7pm:
The structure is even bigger as the wine has put on more weight. Many of the flavors are there with more complexity and depth. The black cherry has melded with more cassis notes but the refined herbal notes still add a nice accent, almost seasoning the delicious fruit the wine puts forward.  With food, this would pair superbly with any beef, especially a top prime steak or cabernet braised short ribs.

Lisa and I enjoying the view of Mt. St. Helena

     This past May, my wife and I visited the Napa Valley and toured a lot of old and new wineries.  They had a lot of differences, but one similarity the best wines had was that they did not subscribe to any school per se except the one school that makes great, not just good wine, in the Napa Valley.

     The Vineyardist was actually our last appointment of the vacation and one of our best. It was my first time visiting a winery on Diamond Mountain as there are few places open to the public in this AVA.  I am typically in Oakville or on Spring Mountain, Howell Mountain and Pritchard Hill just to give some perspective.

The historic Victorian House from 1879. This is where the tastings was held.
The “Dream Kitchen” at The Vineyardist
     “The Vineyardist” property is a jewel in the rough.  Tucked way up in the north in western Calistoga, the property is just off Petrified Forest Road.  As we drove through the winding road to the house, you could tell where the focus was at the property:  the vines, the gardens and the house.  The house faced east, overlooking one parcel of the vineyard, with gardens laid out in front welcoming the visitor.


     We were running 30 minutes late and our host Roy Piper stuck around to graciously meet us at the front gate.  Were so glad that Roy waited for us as the grounds, the vineyards and the wine were spectacular and well worth the visit.  The kitchen of the historic reconditioned house was incredible and gave me ideas of how I would like my kitchen to look given this type of incredible opportunity.  The vineyard plots are in 4 or so different sections of the property with different exposures, lending some good diversity in altitude, soil and sun exposure. From the top of the ridge above the house, you can see Sonoma to the west and a perfect view of Mt. Saint Helena to the east.  Then looking southeast you could see Howell Mountain with Viader resting on the eastern slopes of Howell Mountain.  If you turned North, you could make out Peter Michael in Knights Valley off in the distance.  There were various vineyards within view on Spring Mountain to the southwest and in closer proximity on the same Diamond Mountain the cabernet vines of Schramsberg were in view.  Below on the valley floor vines were stretched out in every direction.

     “The Vineyardist” was one of the better cabernet based wines on our trip.  We tasted fabulous wine, talked shop about the wine biz, took home some amazing photos from the beautiful terroir, and met with one of the better hosts we had all week. 

Thanks again Roy!

A bientot!


Peter Michael off in the distance in Knights Valley

Viader on the eastern slopes of Howell Mountain
Schramsberg Cabernet vines on Diamond Mountain AVA


2 Responses to “ “The Vineyardist” ”

  1. Nice post. Seen your site first time. I must say there is something special or you can say a spark in your work…

    • admin says:

      At nice reply, I try to let the passion come through, I just wish I had more time to write as this is a hobby. A tasting at Morlet s up next so stay tuned!


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