One of the best things about wine clubs is being invited on a cave tour. Caves, which stay at just the right temperature and humidity year-round, have been recognized for centuries as some of the best places to store wine in the barrel. So perfectly suited are these caves that when immigrants to California found there weren’t enough caves in the Napa hills, they hired mining and railroad engineers to build caves for them.
The humidity in a wine cave should be at least 75 percent — more than that if there are white wines in there. The coolness of the air and the water pressure of the humidity discourage evaporation of the wine from the barrel — which is important, because the barrel isn’t completely airtight.
Surprisingly bright and beautiful caves
One of the great things about a cave tours this time of year is that it’s guaranteed to be cool inside the cave — so bring a jacket along on your cave tours. This is your chance to learn about the wine industry from the people who work in it every day and taste both the latest wines and library wines from previous years. You may also get the chance to try not only good wine, but good food, and often in a surprisingly beautiful setting — these caves are often carved, decorated and lit to create great subterranean works of art, complete with running fountains from underground rivers.
Cave tours of a vineyard near St. Helena
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, holds tastings in its barrel caves, where current releases and library wines may be sampled and visitors can learn all about the process of making and storing the wine. Cave tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase. Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide.
One wine you might sample during an Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards cave tours are the Right Bank. Their 2011 Right Bank came from a cooler than average year, leading to a powerful aroma and flavor of blue violets, roses, red currants, fresh red raspberry compote, menthol, clove, anise and allspice, with seamlessly blended oak and grape tannins and bright acidity. This wine is expected to be good for thirty years. Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards doesn’t issue a Right Bank every year. Try their latest Right Bank today.