In conjunction with its 40th anniversary, Conn Creek Winery unveiled its new tasting room this month. The tasting room was remodeled over the past five months. It completed an exterior renovation that was finished in 2012.
The winery, founded in 1973, is a boutique winery focusing on cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends. According to the website, the winery is unique in that it sources grapes from nearly all of Napa Valley’s sub-appellations.
The new tasting room captures Napa Valley’s unique characteristics by showcasing Napa Valley’s different American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in pictures, through soil samples and in video. “A visit to our newly remodeled tasting room allows guests to easily choose the tasting experience that suits their style,” said Paul Asikainen, hospitality director. “Walk-in guests are welcome to sit in the lounge fitted with leather seating, enjoy the sunshine in the patio or simply stand at our sleek tasting bar.”
What’s being served changes periodically. “The current tasting includes five wines that rotate between our limited production white wines and single vineyard cabernet sauvignons, and finishes with our flagship Bordeaux-style red wine called Anthology,” said Asikainen.
The winery’s website offers 2006 to 2009 vintages of Anthology for sale, the AVA Series and the Napa Valley Collection. The winery’s AVA series is made from grapes grown throughout the Napa Valley — in the Newton Vineyard, for example — as well as Stagecoach Vineyard on Atlas Peak, Truchard Vineyards in Carneros and the Spring Mountain AVA. The website also lists the winery’s library wines for sale.
Those who would like to plan their visit ahead of their arrival have several interactive options to choose from. “Guests can also make an appointment in the Anthology Salon that provides an interactive tasting through virtual video tours of some of our most distinctive vineyards while tasting the wines in a private setting,” Asikainen said.
This interactive experience is one of the ways that winery personnel educate guests about the Napa Valley. The tasting room features soil samples from the Napa Valley’s AVAs, and in the nearby AVA lounge, visitors can blend their own wine.
“Our award-winning Barrel Blending experience allows guests to taste their own bottle of wine utilizing barreled cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals sourced from distinct vineyards across nearly all of the Napa Valley’s famed sub-appellations,” said Asikainen. “It is truly a unique educational experience that will certainly be the highlight of any visit to the Napa Valley.”
“We pride ourselves on the educational component of our tasting experiences,” said Asikainen. “We like to think that you leave Conn Creek smarter than when you arrived.”
The current release tasting is $20 and free for club members. The barrel blending experience is $95 and $65 for club members. Napa Valley residents receive 10 percent discount on all wine purchases.
Bill and Kathy Collins bought 54 acres of zinfandel vines in northern Napa Valley in 1968 and for several years hauled grapes to their Los Altos Hills home and made wine in a friend’s basement. They founded the winery 40 years ago when they leased a facility to make wine in the Napa Valley, according to the winery’s website. One of their first wines was the 1974 Conn Creek Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which Robert Parker called “one of the great classics of the seventies,” according to the winery’s website.
The Collinses replaced the nonproducing zinfandel vines in their vineyard with Bordeaux varieties and began sourcing cabernet sauvignon from other Napa Valley grapegrowers. By 1979, they had outgrown their leased facilities, and Bill Collins worked with his vineyard crew to build Conn Creek Winery in the Rutherford appellation. The couple sold the winery in the mid-1980s. The current winemaker is Mike McGrath.