Napa Visit Highlights - VHR, William & Mary, River's Marie, Skipstone, and Quivet

I was recently in Napa with a small group and the experience was absolutely fantastic. During our time there, I probably tasted through 45-50 different wines over the course of 3.5 days. We visited Bedrock, Aonair, VHR, Ridge, Skipstone, River’s Marie/William & Mary, and Heron House for a tour of Mike Smith wines. Each tasting was unique and very enjoyable in their own respects.

In no particular order, my favorite wines of the trip (by far) were:

Also, I cannot speak highly enough of Bruce Phillips, Brian Ball, and Will Segui for their hospitality, generosity, and their time. Each of them made our time in Napa remarkable and a trip to remember!

And a trip to Napa would not be complete without us stopping for several fantastic meals. If you are looking for food recommendations around St. Helena, I’d highly recommend Cook (dinner) and Mustard’s Grill (lunch). The gnocchi at Cook was insane and the pork chop at Mustard’s was definitely the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time. Their lamb burger special was a close second. Breakfast at Model Bakery was fantastic, as was The Station a few blocks down the road. Their glazed donut and breakfast burrito were top notch!


Kickass! Planning to visit William & Mary and Skipstone in the next month or so. Thanks for the report!

The Mongolian pork chop at Mustards is one of my favorite dishes anywhere. I get it every time we’re in Napa.

Visiting william & Mary and rivers Marie in mid October! Can u buy wine from the tasting at rivers Marie.

Sounds like a hell of a trip. Glad to see the top 4 as I bought a fair amount of all of those. May need to revisit Skipstone as I haven’t been blown away in the past… Brian is a great guy though.

What all did you taste at RM/WM and at Heron?

I really enjoyed the 2016 Skipstone Oliver’s Blend, but generally speaking, I don’t enjoy Skipstone as much as other producers we visited on this trip, but they are very well made wines and the estate is the most beautiful property I’ve been to in Napa. It’s literally breathtaking. We saw they are moving the production facility on-site and sounds like it will be ready by 2023.

We did the RM/W&M tasting at Mending Wall. We tasted through most of the 2019 RM cabs including the Napa, Panek, Calistoga, Herb Lamb, and Oakville Terraces. The only SV bottle not in the lineup was the Buselli. The W&M bottles were the Shifflett cab and the Prop Red. Both were absolutely fantastic. We had some amazing luck on timing, as Will had just done a critic tasting the day before (~50 bottles) and pulled the highlights for us (around 15 bottles).

The tasting at Heron House was more of a blur and I don’t recall everything, but I know we tasted through 1-2 labels of Bench Vineyards from Allison Steltzner, the 2018 Perchance Estates cab, along with a couple other reds and one white.

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You didn’t miss it as I believe they ended up not making a Buselli single vineyard and instead included it in the Napa in 2019. Will commented on this in one of the RM threads.

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Yes re: RM. We were just there in August.


Sounds like a great trip, thanks for sharing.

As for food in Saint Helena, next time make it a point to go to Farmstead. I’ve been there a dozen times and never had less than an amazingly good meal.

We went to Charter Oak on the the first night, Cook on day 2, and Farmstead on day 3 to close it out. Surprisingly, Farmstead was a distant 3rd to the group. Cook was definitely the favorite. Perhaps an off night for Farmstead or I just ordered wrong, but I don’t think I’d go back on a future visit.

Good to know, thanks Owen!

How did you go about tasting Rivers Marie at Mending Wall? I don’t see an option like that on the website.

Will happened to bring along some bottles from the prior day’s tasting with Galloni. I don’t know how many, if any, of the RM bottles would have made it had it not been for that tasting (I was more interested in Will’s own label), but it was certainly a treat.

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