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The welcome sign on Highway 29, just north of the city of Napa, with the Mondavi quote about wine as “bottled poetry.” Napa Valley accounts for about 4 percent of the wine made in California — and 80 percent of wine sales. Photos by Frank Mangio
Columns Taste of Wine

Taste of Wine: Help the comeback — buy a bottle of Napa Valley wine

Questions still linger about Napa Valley and the impact of the horrific fires that swept through several districts and caused billions of dollars of damage, and worse, took many lives and put many workers out of work.

The Napa Valley Vintners, the official voice of some 450 wineries that have made and are making this land the finest wine producers on the planet, have a simple message: “Plan a visit, enjoy a bottle of Napa Valley wine and consider a donation to the Napa Valley Disaster Relief Fund. We are open for business.”

Arterra restaurant menu creators are John Bacolod and Evan Cruz.

Napa Valley is a scenic wonderland and is really a rural area, producing only about 4 percent of the wine made in California, yet approximately 80 percent of wine sales in California are from Napa Valley. This is an impressive premium to all other wine countries in the state. The Mediterranean climate, the hills, the cooling effect of the Pacific Ocean, elevation and a palette of soil all nourish this perfectly suited wine appellation.

Most wineries are family owned and operated, producing an average of about five to 10,000 cases a year. There are 16 official viticultural areas in the valley. The most well-known are Rutherford, St. Helena and Oakville. The newest is Coombsville near the city of Napa, which eventually could turn out to be one of the most exciting, rising to 1,800 feet in elevation. It is a source of grapes for outstanding wineries like Joseph Phelps, Paul Hobbs, Pahlmeyer, Quintessa and others.

Last year’s Wine Spectator Wine of the Year was Lewis Cellars Cabernet from the Coombsville area.

The most exciting news out of Coombsville is the announcement that Paul Hobbs, one of the most visible wine personalities in Napa Valley and whom I profiled in a recent edition of Taste of wine, plans to build the Nathan Coombs Winery. He was the founder of the city of Napa.

“What we’d like to do is built a small jewel winery on this special site, very discreet and high end,” he was quoted as saying. 

The 2014s are out and Napa Valley is showing high excellence for this vintage, as good or better than the previous two years with Cabernets picked at ideal ripeness.  Top Cabs include: Colgin, Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer To Kalon, Lewis, Pahlmeyer and Chaulk Hill.

Value wines include: Raymond, Girard, The Prisoner and Beringer Knights Valley Reserve.

For more, see

Arterra serves

artisan-style menu

The dynamic duo in the San Diego culinary scene are John Bacolod and Evan Cruz. Their fingerprints are on the refreshed menu at Arterra in the Del Mar Marriott Hotel. The festive menu offers “Land, Ocean, Greens, Share and for light Eaters, Taste.” The wine menu had a generous selection of Paul Hobbs wines from Napa and Sonoma. Hobbs is featured in the previous article and in my column of Sept. 22.

My menu picks were: onion Soup with egg yolk and sweet yellow onion, seared beef bruschetta with egg aioli and smoked onion and the main entrée was the black cod with mustard greens and citrus. Final wine of the night was the Saxon Brown Zinfandel 2012, carefully vinted by ace winemaker Jeff Gaffner. Casual elegance with an open atmosphere to ignite your senses are the welcoming attractions of Arterra. RSVP at (858) 369-6032.

Wine Bytes

• Sal Ercolano, the Crown Prince of wine dinners and his Seasalt in Del Mar, has already planned a fantastic series of events for 2018. But before we get there, let’s all enjoy his Banfi Tuscan Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. Nov. 30. This historic wine dinner will feature the 2012 legendary Brunello di Montalcino that Banfi developed to perfection. Cost is $65 per person. Call (858) 755-7100 to RSVP.

• PAON Wine Lounge downtown Carlsbad is presenting a don’t-miss wine event, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29. Wine Director Gino Campbell has “California Dreaming” Napa Valley gems from Beckstoffer To-Kalon vineyard. Names like Schrader Cellars, Paul Hobbs and a bonus, a 1997 Araujo Estate, “Eisele Vineyard.” Cost is $239 each served with charcuterie and batard bread. RSVP a must at (760) 729-7377 or [email protected]

• Meritage Wine Market’s next seminar will feature Port, Chocolate and Cheese, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in Encinitas. With the biggest holiday of the year arriving, this one is perfect. Five wines will be tasted with a selection of cheeses and chocolates.  Price is $49. Call (760) 479-2500 for your place.

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading commentators on the web. View his columns at Reach him at [email protected]