Friday, January 18, 2013

Salvestrin Winery – The 2013 Mustard Season in St. Helena, California

The Mustard Season in the Napa Valley normally runs from February until the end of March. During this time wineries prune the canes from the previous year’s growth as the vineyards begin to bloom with wild flowers, orange poppies, purple lupines but most of all yellow mustard flowers. It is one of my favorite times of the year for doing wine country photography. 

After visiting the old vine Chardonnays of Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma last Saturday I was curious to see if the heavy rain we have received this year might have started the growth of the Mustard Season a little early. So, I drove through Los Carneros and up to St. Helena on Highway 29, where the vineyards tend to be the most densely populated with wild flowers. My drive from Sonoma to Napa was well rewarded for as I arrived in St. Helena found that the vineyards of Salvistrin Winery were absolutely booming with wild flowers and they have some picturesque Old Zinfandel vines as well. 

Salvestrin Winery is very small family-owned business that began in 1932. The founders, John and Emma Salvestrin, were Italian immigrants who purchased a portion of the historic Crane Ranch, including the Victorian home of Dr. Crane. After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, they grew grapes and sold them to neighboring wineries which frequently won awards for making wines with the fruit of their vines. 

John and Emma’s son Ed Salvestrin continued the family business growing quality grapes from the 1960’s through the 1980’s preserving the family legacy for future generations. Then Rich Salvestrin, a third-generation family member, enrolled in the Fresno State University wine program. Shortly after completing his studies in 1987 he began making wine with the first vintage released under the Salvestrin family label in 1994. Then in 2001 the small estate winery was constructed amongst the family vines with a very small tasting room above the winery that overlooks the estate vineyards.

Today, three generations of the Salvestrin family live on the 26 acre property and it is anticipated that Rich and Shannon’s three young daughters will become 4th generation owners and winemakers.

While visiting I sampled the following wines:

My first pour was the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. On the nose it has notes of citrus, grapefruit, lemon zest, apricots, and a subtle chalky minerality. On the palate it is crisp, light bodied and it has a medium length finish. This refreshing white wine sells for $24 a bottle.

The second sample of wine was the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose it has intense and concentrated aromas of cassis, blackberries, and vanilla. On the palate it very fruit forward, slightly astringent tannins, full bodied and ends with medium (+) length finish. This is a really nice wine that has all the classic characteristics of a fine Napa Valley Cab. It sells for $55 a bottle.

The third and final wine was the 2008 3-D Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose it is similar to the previous Cab with aromas of cassis, blackberries and vanilla but with an additional underlying note of dark chocolate. On the palate it is full bodied with slightly softer and more refined tannins and the fruit and is carried through into a prolonged finish. This wine sells for $125 a bottle, a bit too steep as there are many similar wines in the valley that sell for far less.

To see more pictures of Salvestrin Winery, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:

To visit or for more information:

Salvestrin Winery

397 Main Street

St. Helena, CA 94574

Phone: 1-707-963-5105 / Phone: 1-707-996-3860