Some wineries you visit for the quality of the wine. Others (you know which ones we’re talking about!) you visit despite the wine, because of the view, or the beautiful grounds, or the caves, or even the cable car. With a handful of wineries, you visit for both the wine and the experience. Artesa Winery in Napa Valley is one of those wineries where the quality of the wine is only enhanced and accentuated by the spectacular views, the dazzling architecture of the winery building, and the sleek interior space of the tasting room.
Artesa is one of several wineries in Napa and Sonoma owned by Spanish wine conglomerates – in Artesa’s case, by Cordoniu, the second-largest global producer of cava (a Spanish sparkling wine made by the traditional champagne method). Like many other European wine companies, Cordoniu had its eye on the Napa Valley as far back as the 1980’s and started acquiring property in the Carneros region, which is known for its cooler climate and unique soil. Twenty-five years ago, in 1991, Cordoniu opened what was then referred to as Cordoniu Napa. Six years later, the winery was renamed “Artesa,” which in the Spanish dialect of Catalan means “handcrafted.”
And the wines are indeed “handcrafted,” grown in small, single-vineyard blocks and producing wines from the grapes that typically thrive in Carneros – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In addition to these classic Carneros varietals, Artesa produces several Cabernet Sauvignon and Red blends from grapes sourced from other locations in Sonoma County and Napa Valley.
One of our good friends and fellow Napans is a member of Club Artesa, the winery’s wine club. As a result of her membership, she received frequent invites to events at the winery, and we were lucky enough to be invited guests to an event this past Friday – Artesa’s Summer Wines and Bites party to celebrate their release of new wines.
Our visit this past Friday was not our first time at Artesa so we knew what to expect. But each time we visit, the breathtaking scenery and views take us by surprise. The first thing visitors notice about the winery is that it is literally built into the mountain, sitting majestically atop the hillside. As visitors climb the stairs to the entrance, they will encounter beautiful fountains and sculptures along the way.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the name “Heuther” several times in the captions of the pictures above. Like a few other wineries in the Napa Valley, Artesa has its own artist-in-residence, Gordon Huether, who is a local Napa artist but one whose art is on display across the United States and around the world. Huether’s unique sculptures and other works of art add to the ambiance of the winery.
When you finally arrive at the “top” of the steps, the 360-degree views are among the best of any in the Napa Valley. In one direction, visitors can look towards San Pablo Bay; indeed, on a clear day you can see all the way to San Francisco. To capitalize on this view, Artesa has patio seating on the south side of the winery building.
If we just stopped here, most people would conclude that Artesa is worth a visit, at least for the scenery and the views. But we said the wine was worth it too, and in our Friday visit it proved to be so again. We tasted the new release of Artesa’s Rose as well their Cabernet. Both were fantastic and lived up to expectations from previous visits to the winery. We mentioned the event was called “Wines and Bites.” And boy did they have bites! Artesa always throws a good party and Friday was no exception. They had an amazing spread to pair with the Rose and Cab.
If you want to visit Artesa, click here to see their hours, tour information, and book a tour online: http://www.artesawinery.com/visit-us/
John and Irene Ingersoll
June 14, 2016