Summer has come to Napa Valley. Young clusters are appearing on the vines, which will soon become berry clusters. Over the next few weeks, we'll start to see verasion occur, when the grapes turn from green to purple. During that time, we may do a little additional pruning, "dropping" the outside clusters to let the other clusters grow in flavor and intensity.
With long days and warm nights, Napa becomes the perfect place for a summer vacation for wine lovers and newcomers alike. June is also the start of "Cabernet Season" in Napa, when wineries release the signature wines that have made this valley such a magical place. To give people a greater opportunity to maximize their summer vacations, we have changed our hours to stay open later. We have also created a White Wine Tasting that pairs perfectly with the warm weather. We hope you'll make Yao Family Wines a part of your summer vacation plans!
~Tom Hinde, President & Winemaker
Yao Family Wines is proud to release our flagship Cabernet, the 2015 YAO MING Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Awarded 93 points by Robert Parker, The 2015 has all the balanced power and finese that are the trademarks of our Cabernet, but with an intense purity that is a distinct hallmark of the vintage. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot, aged in 100% French oak (65% new) for 18 months. Click Here to add this delicious wine to your cellar.
Our Saint Helena tasting room is open later throughout the summer! Come visit us during our new hours:
Monday: 11:00am to 6:00pm
Wednesday: 11:00am to 6:00pm
Thursday: 11:00am to 6:00pm
Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 11:00am to 8:00pm
For more information or to book a reservation, Click Here.
Earlier this month, our founder and proprietor, Yao Ming, received his Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Management from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Fulfilling a promise he made to his mother years ago, Yao enrolled in 2011 and attended classes over the next seven years, all the while running his foundation, his winery, and the Chinese Basketball Association. We couldn't be more proud!
Join us at the Tasting Room on Friday, July 20th, and every other Friday through Labor Day, as we present our Summer Concert Series. Music starts at 5:30pm and the tasting room will be open until 9:00pm, featuring free bites and drink specials. As always, no admission charge!
Friday, July 20th: The Rusty String Express
Friday, August 3rd: The Al James Band
Friday, August 17th: The Peter Welker Sextet
Friday, August 31st: Jealous Zelig
This September, we'll be releasing our 2015 YAO MING Family Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We are proud to announce that this vintage is one of the highest-acclaimed wines we have released since our debut vintage in 2009.
"One Of The Top 100 Wines of 2017. 96 Points." ~ James Suckling
96 Points, Jeb Dunnuck
95+ Points, Robert Parker
With reviews pending from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Decanter, the 2015 vintage is destined to become a classic. As always, Founders Club Members receive the first allocation of the Family Reserve, with any remaining bottles available exclusively through the tasting room. The Family Reserve Cabernet sells out quickly each year. Click Here to join The Founders Club and reserve your allocation today.
I was first introduced to drinking great wine when I was living in Houston, Texas and playing for the Houston Rockets. Houston loves its steakhouses, and so I discovered big Cabs from Napa Valley when I was eating those famed Texan-sized steaks.
Some of my favorites?
Opus One — The wines are so smooth and polished. I visited the winery and tasted with Winemaker Michael Silacci. I was very impressed with their detailed attention to elegant and gracious hospitality.
Cardinale — I really love Winemaker Chris Carpenter’s mountain wines for their finesse and complexity. The winery in Oakville provides beautiful views along with a nice experience and food pairings that really highlight the wines.
Hall Winery and Flora Springs Winery – Neighbors of ours along the St. Helena Highway, both venues offer impressive, quality wines.
Donum Estate – As I continue to study wine and sample more varieties, I've become very fond of the Pinot Noirs from Donum Estate. They have a unique visitor experience with sculptures and private tastings at their tucked away Carneros estate.
–Yao Ming, January 2017
Click here for a link to the full article, with driving directions to each location.
Summer’s in full swing, which means it’s time for beach trips, camping, pool parties, or just lounging away in the backyard, enjoying the longest days of the year. Of course, summer also means light, crisp refreshing white wines to pair with all that lounging and partying.
At Yao Family Wines, we make a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc in the classic Bordeaux style, with a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. This blend creates a delicate yet complex wine, with an acidity that makes it perfect with seasonal, summertime dishes. But what if you want to try something a little bit different; something to expand the pallet without deflating the wallet? We asked a handful of Napa Valley insiders for their suggestions on new, exciting and different white wines to try.
“I recently tasted the 2016 Swanson Vineyards Pinot Grigio. At $21 bucks a bottle, it’s an affordable, fun, fresh and food-friendly wine. Pair this white wine with the recent heat wave and you’ve got yourself a pairing perfect for porch pounding!” ~ Monique Soltani, Host, WineOH.tv
“Chateu Yvonne Saumur Blanc (Chenin Blanc). Killing it! I had this in New York at Rebel, and then less than a month later I got to meet Matthieu, the winemaker, in the Loire Valley. I think his Chenin is all the things a Chenin should be: refreshing and crisp for a hot day, bit also minerality, stone, pear, and a silky texture that has richness without being too weighty. ~ Terra Jane Albee, Whiterock Vineyards.
“The 2016 Ancien Pinot Gris. Great acidity and tropical notes.” ~ Jimmy Kawalek, President, Coombsville Vintners & Growers Association.
"If you're looking for the true Chardonnay alternative, get a bottle of Aligote, the 'Other White Wine of Burgundy.' A great choice is the 2015 Maison Chanzy Bouzeron Clos de la Fortune Monopole, which is pretty widely available at about twenty bucks. Aligote's flavor profile lives somewhere between SB and Chardonnay, but with a unique acidity and minerality. It's amazing." ~ Allen Desuaniers, Marketing Manager, The DAR Label Group.
And I'll go ahead and throw my choice into the fray as well: The 2016 Kale Napa Valley Somerston Vineyards Grenache Blanc. Grenache Blanc is one of the souther Rhone's lesser-known and utilized varietals, but as a stand-alone wine, it has exquisite character. If made in the old world style, it has a lower alcohol content which makes it go down easy on a hot day.
Enjoy the summer, and comment below to let us know what alternative white wine you've been drinking!
Traveling to Napa, or indeed any of the world’s great wine regions, can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is truly nothing like a day tasting world-class Napa Valley Cabernet, taking in an evening with a culinary masterpiece, and a night in a vineyard under the stars. But for wine tasting newcomers, a trip to winery or tasting room can be a bit intimidating: So many varietals, vintages, glasses and tasting methods…it can be overwhelming to first time visitors.
For most people, a trip to wine country may indeed be a once-in a lifetime experience, so making the best of it is critical. So we spoke to some of our favorite, most knowledgeable wine-industry insiders to get their expert advice on how to make the most of your next wine tasting adventure!
AnnaBelle Walter, Wine Industry Marketing Executive: Do your research! I'd say poll the group and determine your main goal. Is it visiting a property steeped in history, or one with state-of-the-art technology? Want to enjoy sweeping views from a panoramic deck, or do you and your friends prefer to explore subterranean caves? Do your research (also on price point and wine style), and choose 2-3 wineries per day max that fit your parameters to get the most out of the experience.
Becky Tyner Sandoval, Small Lots Big Wines: Keep hydrated!
Regina Fell, Boisset Family Estates: Take your time. Don’t slug it down: Taste it and savor it. Swirl, sniff, sip and savor.
Anna Eagan, Tasting Room Associate: If your host has served you, entertained you, helped you in any way and provided you with a pleasant experience, it is appropriate and encouraged to tip them. They may even have some special tidbits of their own to share with you!
Terra Jane Albee, White Rock Vineyards: Don’t be intimidated. Ask questions, pay attention. Don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy!
Buddy Bowles, Bremer Family Estates: Your Host is there to provide a memorable experience; help by being courteous when he or she is explaining their wines. (You’re not at) a bar, but a wine tasting of some of the best wines you may ever taste. As Maya Angelou said, "I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Francesca Cunningham, Winery Social Media Expert: What’s that metal container on the bar? It’s a spittoon! It's ok to spit, especially if you are the driver. It will make your day longer and your morning less painful.
Sheila Thomas, Yao Family Wines Tasting Room Coordinator: Call ahead, even if it's not a "By Appointment Only" Tasting Room. The gesture will be appreciated and will mean you get a host who's expecting you, and usually better service.
Most of all, just have fun! The benefit of wine tasting is that it allows you to discover your own personal palette. You’re there to try new things. Over time, you’ll become an expert too!
The staff at Yao Family Wines is happy to help you plan your next trip and give you recommendations on wineries, restaurants and experiences. Call us anytime at 707-968-5874.
In 2011, 7-foot-6-inch-tall Yao Ming retired as a professional basketball player. He had played in the NBA for the Houston Rockets for more than 10 years, and during his career he’d been widely regarded as one of the superstars of the game.