August 31, 2004
Our friends from some terrific Austrian estates came for a visit
and a bit of industrial espionage.
Johann & Monika SCHMELZ from the Wachau
Mr. & Mrs. Anton IBY from The Burgenland
Rachel & Christoph NEUMEISTER from the Steiermark
and Wolfie Morandell (who lives in Los Angeles, importing good Austrian wines),
We began our day, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Nobody wanted to jump
off, luckily, so we drove to the Napa Valley.
The French "chteau" of Taittinger is Domaine Carneros, a producer of
some lovely California sparkling wines.
We started with their basic Carneros Brut cuve, a soft, Pinot Noir-based
bubbly. The Pinot really takes center stage in this wine!
The famous Iby on the left, with the Schmelz's enjoying the sun and the bubbly.
We strolled over to watch some fruit being crushed for sparkling wine
Schmelz and Mrs. Iby enjoyed the second bubbly, the Chardonnay cuve called
The winery also makes some red wines, notably a lavishly oaked Pinot Noir.
group was impressed by the abilities of the fork lift driver to move barrels
around the cellar.
The room had a lovely perfume from the wine and wood.
Rachel Neumeister enjoyed a taste of the wines and some Pinot Noir grapes.
Anton Iby then interrogated winemaker Eileen Crane about their viticultural
We then departed, driving north to Oakville along the Silverado Trail, passing
such famous estates as Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Pine Ridge and Silverado
We stopped to visit the Miner Family Vineyards.
As soon as he could get his phone working, Johann Schmelz placed a call to the
winery to share some newly-found winemaking "secrets" with his
Wouldn't you know it? They had a young Austrian fellow as an intern for
the 2004 harvest!
And wouldn't you know that Hermann and young Christoph Neumeister had attended
the same winemaking school in Austria!!!
Talk about a small world.
Some fruit was working its way through the de-stemming machine for "whole
Behind the winery and tasting facility, Miner has an impressive gallery of caves
dug into the mountain.
They have an impressive display of large format bottles near their tasting room.
The one on the far left is a real rarity!
The Austrians were definitely challenged by the curious name of this bottle.
We then meandered into the Miner tasting room where proprietor Emily Miner
graciously poured some wonderful wines.
(This tasting room is a wonderful stop, whether you're
a famous Austrian winemaker or "just" a tourist. We've stopped
by "anonymously" and found this to be a very hospitable facility.)
Monika and Johann Schmelz.
Emily Miner seems to be worried about whether or not the famous Anton Iby is
enjoying her wines.
How about some Zinfandel???
Christoph made some notes on the wines he tasted.
Meanwhile, Anton and Emily discussed the politics of wine.
But after all this chatter, it was time for a picnic lunch!
ON TO THE NEXT
TO THE FOOD, WINE & FRIENDS PAGE