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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Calistoga Ranch,Frank Family Winery and Bennett Lane: Napa Valley Luxury

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants and visit all 600 Napa wineries, my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Calistoga Ranch and enjoyed a few days of Napa luxury.

The 50 room Calistoga Ranch has been rated Top 5 Resort in the world by Travel and Leisure Magazine. 
The 157 acre Ranch features its own restaurant, spa, hiking trails and a team of dedicated employees who pride themselves in treating every guest like royalty. In addition, the location is close to many wineries, golfing, and hot air balloon rides for the more adventurous spirits.

We combined a visit to this Napa treasure with a stop at Frank Family Winery before we checked in at the Ranch.  Sal our host at Frank Family was very knowledgeable and proud to serve us their great wines.  Winemaker Todd Graff has been with the winery since 2002. The winery will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year and makes great juice from its 350 acres of grapes.

We began with a toast to Dennis long time host at Frank Family. Many patrons have stories about Dennis who enjoyed tastings with him. He passed away a couple of years ago but his spirit is still alive and well as he enjoyed  sharing stories with wine lovers getting “Tanked  at Frank.”

We had an extensive tasting beginning with the 2013 Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine produced in the secondary method of fermentation followed by a 36 month aging period. The wines are then hand riddled to remove the yeast. It was very refreshing and retails for $55.00. We then sampled the 2015 Carneros Lewis Vineyard Chardonnay named after owner  Rich Frank’s first grandson Lewis. The wine has a creamy mouth-filling texture that coats the palate and leads to flavors of lemon meringue pie. It retails for $65.00. 

Next we sampled the 2015 Lewis Vineyard Pinot Noir. It is enticing on the nose  with notes of dark cherries, baking spices and a hint of smoke. It also retails for $65.00.

The 3rd selection was the Reserve Zinfandel. It features generous flavors of fresh plums and sweet cherry pie meld that lasts through a long finish. It retails for $55.00.

The wine kept flowing with a tasting of the 2014 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. This full bodied wine envelops the palate with flavors
 of blackberries, clove and leather. It can be enjoyed now but will benefit from 5-10 years in your cellar. It retails for $95.00.

The highlight was tasting the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Patriarch named after Rich’s father and introduced on his dad’s 98th birthday. His father passed away one year later at the age of 99.

For lunch, we enjoyed nearby Sam's Social Club an upscale casual restaurant with a variety of great food and craft beers. It was named after Samuel Brannan, California’s first millionaire and founder of the historic Indian Springs Resort located on the 17 acre piece of property next to the restaurant.

We then checked into Calistoga Ranch. You are welcomed to this pristine and peaceful resort with a glass of wine and taken to your room in a golf cart. The property is heavenly and our room featured an indoor/outdoor fireplace, hot tub and outdoor shower. If you fall in love with this piece of paradise, you can purchase fractional ownership.

We had dinner at the private lake restaurant that is for guests only, which had an extensive menu and selection of cocktails, wine and beer.  They offered  a 4 course  price fixed menu and also a bar menu for those that are not as hungry. We split a wood fired pepperoni  pizza that was very tasty and fulfilling after an intense day of wine tasting.

You may also choose to either have an elegant breakfast served in your room or make a trip to the “chicken coop “ and take fresh eggs to the restaurant to have them prepare them for you. 
We chose to select fresh eggs from the chicken coop. It was a unique and very fun way to enjoy a memorable breakfast with VERY fresh eggs.
The entire Calistoga Ranch experience is very special and it is no surprise that it has been rated as one of the top 5 resorts in the world.

After breakfast, we went to nearby Bennett Lane Winery for another private tasting.
Our host was Donna who was passionate about the Bennett Lanes wines. Former Blackhawk resident Randy Lynch and his wife have owned the winery for 14 years. Winemakers  Rob Hunter and Rachel Gondouin pride themselves in making great red wine.

We began our tasting with a 2015 Reserve Chardonnay aged in French Oak with aromas of honey, melon and pumpkin. The wine finished in perfect balance and retails for $53.00.  Next the 2012 Maximus is a blend of 74%Cabernet Sauvignon, 18%Syrah, 4%Petit Syrah, 2%Malbec and 2%Merlot. It is an elegant blend of fruit driven finish and enough tannin structure to age perfectly. It is also a great value at $48.00. 
Finally, we did a side by side tasting of the 2013 and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were flavors of cherry and had an elegant finish. We enjoyed both but decided to take the 2014 home with us. The 2013 retails for  $62.00 and the 2014 sells for $63.00.

Before we returned home, we stopped at the Model Bakery  in St. Helena which features an array of sugar delights and their famous English Muffins. You need to go early as the Muffins are usually sold out by 10:00 am.

To complete this Napa trip, we stopped at Gotts Roadside Grill and ordered their famous cheeseburger that was cooked to perfection. It is no wonder why people wait in line every day for this special burger. In addition, they have great milk shakes, Fish Tacos and Crab Sandwiches.

In conclusion, we would highly recommend “all” of these places on your next visit to heavenly Napa.

“Napa Rocks!”

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