In the Coombsville region of Napa Valley, tucked inside a hillside is an underground winery called Porter Family Vineyards.
Yes, the entire winery is underground — from fermentation tanks to blending apparatus in the lab to a line-up of oak barrels — all concealed in this cool 17,000-foot space winding through the hillside.
This cool, underground world has got to be the best retreat from Mother Nature’s erratic mood swings as of late.
Best of all, at the end of the tour there’s a highbrow tasting of a half a dozen Porter wines and an appetizer tray big enough to feed a third world country, or so it seems. The chardonnay is definitely the standout. It’s complex, with flavors of pear, toast and spice, and it has a seamless texture. Striking.
Another perk of this adventure is that our guide, Tim Porter, was a virtual standup comic. He said he was working in Boston but came out to California to see how his parents, Tom and Bev Porter, (head poobahs and winery owners) were spending his inheritance. He was roaring funny from the moment we stepped on the property and were greeted with the Porter rose, yet another tasty wine to check out.
Tim also filled us in on the historic significance of the property and how millions of years ago the hillside was a shoreline. They know this because of the fossilized tracks of a sandpiper which they discovered while digging to construct the underground cellar.
For explorers who like to sip off the beaten path, this is not-to-be-missed. Check it out. And if you like to pair good wine with witty repartee, be sure to request Tim as your guide.
(The tasting, $25 per person, is by appointment only. 1189 Green Valley Road, 707-265-7980, www.porterfamilyvineyards.com)