Clos Pegase is a winery near the northern end of Napa Valley, in Calistoga. I was invited by the winery to experience a complimentary tour and tasting and I was more than happy to join them.
My father would be envious of this winery experience. He’s an architect, and I thought of him throughout my tour because this Michael Graves-designed winery is distinctly Post Modern. He would’ve loved to check it out with me.
Photo from www.clospegase.com
The main entrance is purposefully symmetrical, as the original owners strongly believed in a balance between work and play.
Thus, one side of the building is offices, administration and the general “work” side of the balance. The other side houses the “play” side of the balance — which is where we, wanting nothing to do with work on this day, started our experience.
With a welcome glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand, we began our tour in their new tasting room, which opened in June 2017.
In the new setting, it’s obvious the design intent was to maintain the idea of “balance”, as the tasting room stays true to the modern design of the winery while incorporating contemporary sculptures that complement the winery’s history.
Here, have a look:
The salon is comprised of two small pouring bars, tables set for groups, and couches for seated tastings.
Prefer to take your flight of wine outside? Well, you’re in luck there too.
Doors from the tasting room open to a spacious courtyard with even more seating, from which you can enjoy not only your wine, but also the vineyard and garden views.
Our tour guide, Kendall, led us from the tasting room out to the vineyards where we learned that all Clos Pegase wines are 100% estate grown and that the previous owner only planted 365 acres of vines — one for how many days each year he loves his wife.
Quite a gift, eh?
We then made our way to the enclosed gardens, where we had our first of many Bacchus sightings.
According to our guide, Bacchus is another theme throughout the property because he stands for both wine and mischief.
Sounds like Bacchus spends all his time on the play side of the balance.
What’s up, Bacchus?
Anyway, as we continued into the production facility, we had the unique opportunity to sample the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc directly from the fermentation tank. It was young and cloudy but we were informed that, with a little more time, it would soon be clear and ready for release.
So, a quick aside about fermentation tanks. They are huge, and they hold a bunch of fermenting grape juice, so it only makes sense that they’d need to be cleaned after the wine is removed.
However, there is only one very small entrance that’s on the side of these enormous tanks filled with fermented grape waste.
And how do they clean out the tanks?
Apparently a small-framed person crawls into the little hole and manually shovels out the waste. Yet, due to the fermentation process, there can be quite a bit of CO2 in the tank.
So, juuuust in case the little shoveler breathes a bit too heavily and PASSES OUT inside the CO2-filled tank (?!?), they tie a rope around the person’s waist to drag them out of the tank through the little hole — while they’re out cold in a pile of grape waste.
Worse yet, back in the very old days, wineries had kids do this job. They were the only ones small enough to fit through the even tinier openings of old-timey wooden tanks.
Look at this tiny entrance…
I suppose child labor laws prevent us from doing that these days, thus they’re making the openings a little bigger so only adults are subjected to the rope belt.
Who wants to be a winery intern, hmm?
The tour was fun, funny and extensive, and it eventually lead us to a warmly lit cave where we found a table set with wine, meats and cheeses.
Yes, we got to my favorite part of a tour: The wine tasting.
The table was beautifully set for us upon arrival, and we were able to taste a selection of their wines along with specially curated meats and cheeses. (This cheese in particular was incredible — it has a rind of ground espresso and lavender.)
The setting was cozy and comfortable, the wines, meats and cheeses were paired perfectly. The whole tasting was a lovely experience.
Can you find Bacchus?
Lastly, Kendall invited us into what was previously the main tasting room to offer us a couple splashes of wines we’d been discussing during our seated pairing experience.
I love bonus pours.
Overall, we tasted 8 different wines over the course of our experience.
And although we didn’t taste the official “Game of Thrones” Cabernet Sauvignon that Clos Pegase was selected to craft, a few folks on the tour decided to trust Tyrion’s taste in wine and take home a few bottles.
Ultimately, our Connoisseur Cave Tour & Tasting experience was enjoyable, educational and delicious.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day — and we were excited to pick up a few bottles ourselves to bring home and share with others.
And Dad? Perhaps we repeat the experience on your next visit to Napa Valley.
Ice Cube Says:
Chickity-check yo’ self
before you wreck yo’ self.