Range: 1 to 9 (9 is best, 5 is average)
Modest winery that maintains the old Napa Valley feel (before bling became popular).
My start to the day was delayed by heavy construction traffic entering the valley, and I was unable to make up any time thereafter. As I drove down the Carter Cellars’ driveway on the north end of Calistoga (and Napa Valley itself) at 4:45 PM, I wondered what to do next. It was too early to get dinner, and too late to taste anywhere that closes by 5:00. Directly across the street was the driveway entrance to Summers Estate Wines, with a closing time of 5:30 neatly printed on the winery’s sign. Voila! So, that’s how much planning went into this winery selection. Sometimes, that’s how your tasting experience in Napa Valley goes.
|The entrance to Summers Estate|
After the reserved stuffiness of Opus One, and the intimate tastings at the other two tasting rooms, it was nice to walk up to the tasting room bar and enjoy a very casual wine tasting experience. From the outside, the building is humble and well-kept (except perhaps for one droopy gutter that gives the false impression of deferred maintenance). Inside, the tasting room is nicely done in a creamy off-white color, with a large tasting counter in the center of the tasting room. Around the edge of the room are a couple of tables for a more intimate experience, but I headed for the bar. The long wall of the tasting room is made up of picture windows and glass patio doors that open onto the backyard, where a few tables are set up for outdoor tasting and picnicking, along with a bocce ball court for working off the picnic.
|One of the intimate tasting spots inside Summers Estate tasting room|
On the tasting menu are six wines, including whites, roses, and reds. After all the wines from the day, I opted for just three of the reds. I started with the 2009 Charbono, followed by the 2008 Zinfandel, and the 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. My favorite was the Cabernet, though the Zinfandel was a close second. I have only visited two other wineries in Napa Valley where I recall a Charbono being poured: Augist Briggs and Hess Collection. If you are a fan of this grape, these are the places to look for it.
Based on this experience, I would rate the winery as a 5 and the wines offered as a 6.