RSS Feed

Storybook’s Story

Posted on

On a recent jaunt to Northern Napa Valley with some girlfriends, we discovered an incredible winery tucked away in the hills of Calistoga. One of the girls (Epicurious Brit) had tasted the Storybook wines before, and insisted that we make it a stop on our wine-tinerary – and I’m so glad we did!

As a matter of fact, we initially missed our appointment because we took a wrong turn and drove up a winding road through the Calistoga mountains. I was very skeptical that we were going in the right direction, but the other girls urged me to keep driving because the map was pointing us that way (Thanks, Google Maps. You have never failed me until now). But once we crossed into Lake County, I knew it was time to turn around. By the time we got back down to the valley, we had missed our appointment entirely and we decided to pop into Chateau Montelena for a tasting before picking up some lunch in downtown Calistoga. Le sigh.

But wait! There’s more! As we were exiting Palisades Cafe, my phone rang and it was a 707 number. I picked it up, and there was a friendly voice on the other end: Rick, the owner of Storybook Mountain Vineyards. I explained to him our little navigation error, and that we had just picked up some lunch in downtown Calistoga. He said that we were only a few miles away and that if we wanted to, he could see us right now. While eternally grateful, I explained that it would have to be a quick tasting because we had another appointment at Pride Mountain in an hour, but he said he could make it work and to come on over. So we did!


Upon arriving at Storybook Mountain Vineyards, we entered through a beautiful iron gate and drove up a long driveway, past a pretty little pond and pulled into a small parking lot surrounded by Redwood trees, where we noticed Rick waving at us. He took us on a short walk up the hill so we could see the vineyards while he told us the history of Storybook’s land, dating back to the 1800’s when the Chinese built caves into the land. They had rows and rows of old Zinfandel vines, and some newer Cabernet vines as well. He told us that his wife’s parents originally bought the property and started the winery, and he was lucky enough to marry into this wonderful lifestyle. His in-laws still lived on the property, and he and his wife lived in another house with his two daughters. What a life!

mustard flowers

old vines

winery road

Rick then took us into the wine caves where he showed us the barrels of Viognier that they stored there, as well as all of their red wine. We moved around back to the “tasting room”, where all the wines were arranged on a barrel. Lucky for us, he had opened a few extras that morning so we got to taste the full line up of Zinfandel, Cabernet and Viognier. He also offered a small folding table for us to use for our lunch (which I took advantage of, as I was the designated driver).

Photo by Sarah Evans

Photo by Sarah Evans

Photo by Sarah Evans

Photo by Sarah Evans

Photo by Sarah Evans

Photo by Sarah Evans

We started with their 2009 Mayacamas Ranch Zinfandel, which was fruit forward and lively, yet well balanced. I very much liked the wine, but knew I was in store for some even better Zinfandels! The next wine we tasted was the 2009 Napa Estate Antaeus, a blend of 51% Zinfandel, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and 4% Merlot. The addition of the Cabernet added a level of fullness and acidity that was well balanced by the dark fruit and chocolate notes in the Zinfandel. This would be a difficult wine to pair with food, but it would be perfect to enjoy after dinner, perhaps with a piece of dark chocolate.

Mayacamus Ranch

Rick telling us about the wines

Rick telling us about the wines

The next two Zinfandels we tried were my favorite wines of the day, and I even picked up two of each bottle (one for me, one for dad) for a pretty reasonably price, including a generous 25% industry discount. After tasting the 2010 Eastern Exposures Zinfandel, I actually let a “holy shit” come out of my mouth. One of the smoothest Zinfandel’s I have ever tasted, the wine has layers of sweet berries, spices and rich flavors that build up into a near perfect finish. The winemaker even adds a touch of their Viognier to the wine, which I tasted in the form of lingering floral notes. The fourth and final Zinfandel that we tasted was their precious 2009 Napa Estate Reserve Zinfandel – another “holy shit” wine. This 97-point wine (highest rated Zin ever) landed on the cover of Wine & Spirits last year and was praised for its “deep and layered aromas of blackberries, dried flowers and sweet oak [and] bright and beautifully composed flavors”. It is sold out online, but available for purchase if you visit the vineyard, which I highly recommend! It also comes in “The Works” box, which one of the girls in our group treated herself to. As Rick noted, these wines are ideal for aging so we all agreed that it was a good investment for her!

full collection

It goes without saying that the Estate Cabernet and Viognier were delicious wines, though a little overshadowed by the collection of Zinfandel. We also got to try a bit of the Vin Gris, which is barrel fermented in their caves – the perfect wine to finish off an incredible tasting.

What made this visit even more special was Rick’s enthusiasm and hospitality, especially his willingness to invite us for a tasting even after we had missed our original appointment. Customer service goes a long, long way in Napa, especially when comparing your experience to more touristy, unfocused tasting rooms. I would happily visit Storybook Mountain Vineyards again and again, and I can’t wait to take my family back to meet Rick. Thanks again to Epicurious Brit for introducing me to this Zinfandel Haven!

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

One response »

  1. Fantastic write up, of a fantastic day! Can’t wait to bust open those wines. Must. Exercise. Self Control.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Candid with a Corkscrew

A Sommelier's Misadventures Abroad

Fit Brit

Fitness & Life Chronicals

shady morels

honest food


So close to wine

Homemade with Mess

who wants life to be tidy when you can have more fun making a mess??!

marina girl eats

Technical Cooking Skills for an Unconventional Cooking Life

The Crafty Cook Nook

Preserving Food, Stories, and Place

Lacy Travels

Feed Your Travel & Inspiration Bug

What's in the glass tonight

I love New Zealand wine

Linda in the Kitchen

seasonal eats & healthy treats, made with Love.


Natural & organic wine in the San Francisco Bay Area

That Great Little Spot

discoveries of the millennial traveler: a writer, photographer, beach bum, adventure junkie and street food connoisseur


favorites from around the globe

The Wine Wankers

G’day, you’re at the best wine blog ever! We're all about wine; without the wankery.

%d bloggers like this: