I recently got to experience the “Fine Wines, Artisan Cheeses” pairing at Darioush Winery in Napa as part of my Monday Funday.
Yes, MONDAY funday. It’s a thing. Trust me.
Anyway, the appointment had been on my calendar for weeks, and I was excitedly anticipating the visit because Darioush is quite a unique and well respected Napa Valley winery.
The winery is visually spectacular and, for Napa, a bit of an architectural style statement.
The building itself is not that old — nor does it pretend to be — but the long, tree lined driveway leads you to a modern likeness of ancient Persian ruins, most notable of which are the 17ft columns that welcome you as you approach and make your way to the entrance.
Inside, the opulent and art-filled tasting room has a wine bar for walk-ins as well as a few seating areas for scheduled tasting appointments.
There’s a cozy fireplace, an indoor fountain raining from the ceiling, and displays of carefully selected and curated wine-related products to peruse and purchase.
And the people? Every single staff member I encountered at Darioush was polite and gracious, and extremely professional and knowledgeable. In fact, at least three smartly dressed team members checked on me while I browsed the extensive retail collection.
Really, it was a lesson in polished hospitality.
Darioush has a few food and wine experiences from which to choose. We took the opportunity to participate in the “Fine Wines, Artisan Cheeses” tasting which included — surprise — wine and cheese, but also included a guided tour of the facility and property.
The tour began in a private room off the main tasting room. Our host, Chris, welcomed us with a glass of Viognier then began telling the story of Darioush Khaledi and the winery’s beginnings.
Afterward, he led us outside to educate us on the history and symbolism behind the “ruins”and other design details. Pretty interesting stuff, and I even picked up a few fun facts that that you can now use to impress your friends.
Chris continued our tour through the vineyard, behind to the production facility, then down into the amphitheater.
Yep, hidden on the northern end of the winery is a small, deep 100+ person amphitheater.
At this point in the tour, for some reason, I thought it would be a fun idea to stand in the center of the amphitheater and try my hand at opera singing. So I walked to the middle, felt immediately on the spot, and started awkwardly yelling “ECHO!… ECHO!…”.
While sufficiently embarrassed, I was still able to recognize how well the sounds reverberated. No wonder they host music events here, what with natural acoustics like that.
From the amphitheater we headed back inside to explore the barrel room, and then wandered through Darioush’s incredibly baller personal wine cellar.
Let’s just say that he’s got a few bottles of wine to get through. I could help him with that…
Ultimately, we sat for our experience in the “Barrel Chai”, and while I’m pretty sure a “chai” is a wine shed, this was certainly no shed. Check it:
We did the obligatory (and rarely attractive, so I’m not even going to share it) group-photo-at-the-table, then got right into it.
Now, I’ll admit that I expected the wines to be outstanding. I mean, Darioush Winery has a strong and well deserved reputation for exceptional premium wines.
What I wasn’t expecting was the attention paid to the actual food pairings and the quality of the cheeses and nibbles. Each wine had a cheese — and each cheese had tasting notes.
Then there was the mushroom spread, the carrot hummus, and the herbed salts that we could add to the cheeses to bring out even more nuances of both the cheese and the wine. Perfect.
Each wine and pairing was terrific, and throughout the tasting Chris again loaded us up with wine-related fun facts. Here are a couple more for you that I picked up:
Alas, at some point I looked down and there were 5 empty glasses in front of me. And one empty plate.
Lucky for me, Chris offered us a bonus taste of the 2014 Cabernet Franc. I love surprises.
Yet, after 90 educational, relaxed and leisurely minutes, it was time to go. *Sigh*
Until next time, Darioush Winery. Though I’d have preferred to stay for the rest of the day, the Fine Wine, Artisan Cheeses experience had been some serious Funday in my Monday.
Read more about the tasting experiences at Darioush.
Ice Cube Says:
Chickity-check yo’ self
before you wreck yo’ self.