Andretti Estate Winery was founded in 1996 by Mario Andretti and Joe Antonini. Mario immigrated to the USA from Italy at age 15. He is most known for being a world famous Formula One, Indy Car, World Sportscar Championship and NASCAR driver who won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the Formula One World Championship and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. He won the Indy Car National Championship four times and was a three-time winner at Sebring. He won races in every type of race car imaginable (sports cars, sprint cars and stock cars) and on every type of race track - ovals, road courses, drag strips, on dirt and on pavement.
Mario Andretti’s interest in the wine business arose from a commemorative bottling of wine he marketed to celebrate his retirement from auto racing in 1994. Mario and Joe then purchased a 53-acre vineyard in the far north part of Napa where they built a Tuscan styled winery, tasting room, and guesthouse.
Bob Pepi who is the co-founder of Pepi Winery, along with his father of Robert Pepi, and the owner of the Eponymous winery has been Andretti’s winemaker since it was founded in 1996. Andretti Winery focuses on producing Italian varietal wines such as Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, Sangiovese and a Super Tuscan as well as French varietals such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
While visiting I sampled the following wines:
The first pour was the 2009 Pinot Grigio – Napa Valley. This wine is clear straw-yellow with aromas of apricots, pears and apples. On the palate it is medium bodied (slightly heavier than most Pinot Grigios), slightly creamy and round suggesting that it underwent at least partial malolactic fermentation. Yet it maintains its crispness with ample acidity and does not have any buttery or oaky characteristics so it is NOT Chardonnay-like. It has a very long zesty finish with lingering apricot, spice and ginger notes. This is a great alternative to Chardonnay and I brought one home for $33.
The second wine and first red was the 2009 Dolcetto - Santa Maria. This wine is a blend of 85% Dolcetto and 15% Petite Sirah. It is light, clear ruby red with subtle aromas of fresh cut flowers, cherries and a hint of cloves. On the palate it is silky soft with medium- tannins, medium body, mouthwatering acidity (medium+) and a long finish. A nice wine that sells for $35 a bottle.
The third sample was the 2009 Sangiovese – Napa Valley. A beautiful clear bright ruby red wine with subtle notes of chocolate covered cherries and cloves. On the palate it is fruit forward, silky, and luscious, medium bodied with ample acidity and a long delicious finish. An absolutely gorgeous wine, but a bit steep at $43 a bottle.
The fourth and final wine was my favorite in the line-up, the 2010 Super Tuscan. This wine is a blend of 55% Sangiovese, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec and 1% Cab Franc. It is bright ruby red, similar in appearance to the previous wine, with aromas of dark cherries, currants, vanilla and a touch of anise. But these flavors don’t hit you all at once on entry, they evolve and develop in the mouth providing transitioned layers from beginning to the end. It is medium bodied, with well-structured tannins and ample food-friendly acidity. This is an absolutely phenomenal wine with a price tag to match at $65 a bottle.
To see more pictures of the Andretti Estate Winery, check out Erik Wait’s Wine Country Photography at:
To visit or for more information:
Andretti Estate Winery
4162 Big Ranch Road
Napa, CA 94558