Charged with excitement, winemaker Glenn Hugo was showing visitors the new Girard Napa Valley winery in southern Calistoga,
Construction lasted more than anticipated but not without delivering an aesthetically pleasing and functional facility that complements their Yountville tasting room.
Girard Winery was established in 1975 by father-and-son duo, Steve and Steve Girard. “Originally at the now Rudd Winery in Oakville, the brand has come a long way delivering value and quality” Hugo said.
Glenn Hugo, a Texas native, spent years in the restaurant business until he fell in love with the beauty of the Napa Valley. He and his wife decided to make Napa their home in 2003, driven by Glenn’s dream to make wine.
“I’ve been very lucky to learn from some icons in the Industry from Napa legend Tom Rinaldi at Provenance Vineyards to working alongside chief winemaker for Vintage Estates Marc DiGiulio,” Hugo said with a big smile.
He became the winemaker for Girard Winery in 2010, and ever since then he’s focused on creating strong relationships with growers to secure the best fruit available.
When asked about the advantages of having the opportunity to design the winery from scratch, Glenn lit up while showing the winery’s state-of-the-art tanks. His commitment to the environment is backed up by a large solar panel farm on the rooftop and he plans for a floating series of panels over the pond in the back of the property, which currently counts with 40 acres planted.
With the hospitality team, lead by Jaylene Gipson, estate manager and assistant tasting room manager, Anton Matulic, we tasted through a flight of wines featured as part of the “Harvest Selection.”
The team greeted us with a glass of the limited-release Girard Rosé Sparkling Wine North Coast ($45) a classic blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier that delivered an enticing and bright pop of wild strawberries, Sicilian lemon zest and lively and dancing acidity.
Hugo sat with us as Tim McDonald of Wine Spoken Here, and I tried the wines offering insight and stories behind each wine. The flight was thoughtfully paired with a selection of local cheeses and fruit orchestrated by the team at The Girl and The Fig Restaurant in Sonoma.
The first wine, the 2017 Girard Mixed Whites, North Coast ($30) a refreshing and aromatic blend consisting of Viognier, Albariño, Riesling and Grenache Blanc. At first glance, this wine offered a mix of mandarin blossoms, orange zest and chamomile in the nose. A refreshing and crisp wave of citrus with a pleasant saline touch and a lingering finish.
‘This wine, alongside the popular Mixed Blacks wine, is a representation of how vineyards were planted originally in California’ Hugo said as he explained his crusade to preserve this style of winemaking. In fact, the plot in front of the new winery will reflect the field blend plantings that he is such a big fan of.
The second wine, a complex and head-turning 2017 Girard Old Vine Gamay, Napa Valley ($55) at a mere 96-case production this wine, provides all the goods, bramble, white and black pepper and grapefruit peel aromas with a balanced amount of fresh fruit and smoke with generous, yet elegant, tannins with a hint of smoke and granite.
This 127-year-old vineyard provides the ideal tales of California winemaking. Girard’s commitment to preserve this vines is a priority. He pays top dollar for the fruit from the vineyard that otherwise would be replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, which provides a higher payoff for the grower.
2016 Girard Mourvèdre Napa Valley ($55) followed, a spot-on representation of this varietal with an electric purple tone, a plummy nose gently complemented by a hint of fresh mint, granite and tension in the palate with a sassy and spicy note.
The next wine, the 2016 Girard Cabernet Franc Mount Veeder ($60). Driven by a magical combination of earth and spice with crushed violets, plum and a firm tannic structure. Only 116 cases produced of this beautiful wine that spends 22 months in 75 percent new French Oak.
Lastly, the team wanted to pay homage to the appellation in which the winery lives with the 2015 Girard Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga Napa Valley ($100). Only 196 cases were produced of this generous and structured masterpiece part of Girard’s Appellation series, which tells a story of the Napa Valley sub AVAs. The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Tenma Vineyard, located in Jericho Canyon in the northeastern portion of Calistoga.
This wine offers a cocoa- and vanilla-driven note thanks to the 26 months in 80 percent new French oak regimen. The wine is lush and juicy with a roasted espresso bean layer and a hard to oversee blackberry jam mid palate.
The tasting experiences are available by appointment, and the experience at the winery is meant to be different than the one at the Yountville tasting room, established in 2008.
The Girard Winery is at 1077 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga. directly across from Clos Pegase Winery. For more information, visit girardwinery.com.