Vine Cliff Winery Wine Tasting with Mike Heliotes at WWWB

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 07:30 PM

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My name is August West
and I love my Pearly Baker best
more than my wine
...more than My wine
more than my maker
though he’s no friend of mine

Half of my life
I spent doin’ time for
some other fucker’s crime
Other half found me stumbling around
drunk on burgundy wine

“Wharf Rat”
Words by Robert Hunter, music by Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)*


This event just popped on our calendar and that’s how this time of the year is with so many people travelling to South Florida in the Winter months we usually don’t even have to send an e-mail out to promote a Vine Cliff Winery event as we send everyone going to Napa Valley to see this beautiful property located on the Silverado Trail in the Oakville appellation.


We have hosted over a dozen events with Vine Cliff Winery over the years and these wines are very well known to our “Wine Drinking People” at Wine Watch.  This is the first Vine Cliff Wine Tasting in our new Wine Bar and we are showing two vintages of Private Stock and just these two wines are worth the price of admission alone at $125 per person plus tax. 


Vine Cliff Dinner with Special Guest Mike Heliotes
at Wine Watch Wine Bar
Wednesday, January 17th



Wines that will be served:

2014 Vine Cliff Chardonnay Los Carneros Napa
Price: $43.50       Sale $38.28

Los Carneros is one of the most prestigious Chardonnay growing area in California, and this wine demonstrates why. Bright and balanced, it's simply delicious!

For the Los Carneros Chardonnay, they use traditional Burgundian techniques of hand picking and sorting, followed by whole cluster pressing. Fermentation takes place in new and experienced French oak, and small stainless steel barrels. The result is a wine with tropical and stone fruit flavors, complemented by a flinty minerality and bright acidity.

2013 Vine Cliff Chardonnay Carneros Proprietress Reserve image
2014 Vine Cliff Chardonnay Carneros Proprietress Reserve
Price: $69.00    Your Price: $60.72

2013 Vine Cliff Chardonnay Carneros Proprietress Reserve
Price: $69.00    Your Price: $60.72

The reserve Chardonnay from Vine Cliff is like Chardonnay on steroids with a much richer mouth feel, Meyer lemon and nectarine with a god amount of toasty vanilla spice and a long harmonious finish.


2012 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon Napa
Price: $49.75       Sale $43.78

A bit of a fine herbs here to the currant and dark cherry fruit, dark chocolate and dark earth, pencil llead graphite notes coming out as this wine opens, the name of this wine is going to be changed to 1871 with the 2013 release to differentiate if more from the Oakville Estate bottling.  A good amount of dark berry fruit here on the tongue with smooth velvety tannins, very well balanced, has a lot of dark cherry and currant berry fruit with and array of earth and toasty mocha notes on the finish, nice length and freshness, a big but very balanced vintage.  Finish 45+    Excellent

2013 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
Price: $87.75    Your Price: $74.59


2012 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
Price: $87.75    Your Price: $74.59


Nuanced aromas of both red and dark fruits, with blueberries and red cherries playing a leading role. Hints of spice, bay leaf and cocoa add layers of complexity and character.  Entering with bright sweet fruit, the palate is rich, full bodied and powerful. Shades of mocha and molasses from the French oak provide a complexity that lingers through the finish.


2013 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon Private Stock Napa
Price: $165.00    Sale $145.20

2012 Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon Private Stock Napa
Price: $159.00    Your Price: $139.92

Reflecting the "best of our best" standards for this wine, the 2012 delivers on every count. Intense, yet supple, age-worthy, yet approachable. A classic cabernet in every respect. Made with fruit from the first sixteen rows of vines planted in front of the Sweeney family’s hilltop home, this bottling represents the oldest and most mature fruit from our Oakville Estate. It is layered with ripe blackberry and boysenberry jam and deep, bittersweet chocolate. It has extraordinary texture and concentration that will stay with you long after you've finished the bottle.



Selection of Cheese and Charcuterie

Nori Artist Palate Salmon and tuna Tartar

Cabernet Braised Shortrib with three cheese au gratin and wild mushroom demi blistered Brussel Spruts

Chocolate Bark



This tasting is $125 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail


A bit about Vine Cliff Winery:


It took close to 85 years before Vine Cliff, like the phoenix in its seal, rose from the ashes.  Chuck and Nell Sweeney, along with their son Rob are tireless hosts with an appetite for hard work, long hours, good food and great wine.  Their love of fine wines turned them into zealous collectors, and they became familiar and generous faces at the Napa Valley Wine Auction.  In 1985, the Sweeneys’ hobby turned serious when they bought a rugged, 100-acre parcel in the eastern hills of Napa Valley along the Silverado Trail.  Vine Cliff Winery was borne out of the Sweeneys' love and dedication to the production of fine wines.  The labor of love continues.   The original winery was resurrected in 1990 and 1991 with the construction of barrel chais.  In 1995 the gravity fed production facility was completed and is considered one of the top production facilities in California.   Additional vineyards were purchased in Calistoga, Carneros and Howell Mountain.  Today, Vine Cliff has over 40 acres of estate vineyards.  In 2000, the construction of 15,000 square feet of caves for barrel aging of the red wines was completed. 

The Vine Cliff Estate of today is an exquisite mountainside property located on land which was once part of the original George C. Yount estate. Noteworthy locals George Burrage and Thomas Tucker purchased the site for Vine Cliff Winery from the Yount Estate in 1871 (five years after Yount’s death).  Burrage and Tucker built Vine Cliff into what appears to be the largest winery in the Napa Valley.   After the deaths of Burrage and Tucker, wealthy San Franciscan John Fry bought the property and immediately set out to achieve his vision for the winery, which he did by the 1890’s.  Fry had made a fortune in Nevada silver and invested heavily in San Francisco real estate. He served on the board of directors of a dozen major companies, including the Bank of California and the Napa Valley Wine Company.  A half-dozen wineries were affiliated with the Napa Valley Wine Company, the leaders of which wanted to build name recognition for the company by setting a quality standard with its wines, unmatched in California. In 1886 the company began building a huge wine cellar at Vine Cliff - 60 by 150 feet - which was to be the principal cellar for the allied producers of wine.  Vine Cliff wines were considered the reserve wines of the Napa Valley Wine Company. 

As Vine Cliff Winery prospered, it attracted the social set of San Francisco.  Prominent San Franciscans visiting Vine Cliff included William Ralston, the founder of the Bank of California.  Amazingly, the early history of Vine Cliff is contained within a short thirty years.  Phylloxera destroyed the vineyards and supporting wine production by about 1900.  It would seem that after Fry’s death in 1901, most of the winery structure disappeared in a matter of a few years, with the exception of the stone first floor and tunnels.

The Sweeney Family continues the vision of Vine Cliff founders Burrage and Tucker, and that of Col. Fry - to produce outstanding and distinctive wines and to create a landmark where the incredible beauty of this historic hillside setting is to be enjoyed and where the legacy of Vine Cliff lives on into its third century.  The Oakville Estate vineyard consists of a total of twenty-two acres of vines on the one hundred acre estate. This is also the location of the Winery, Caves and Sweeney family home that is featured on the Vine Cliff wine label.

Situated about three hundred and fifty feet above the Silverado Trail on the East side of the Napa Valley is a plateau called the Oakville Bench. On this portion of the estate is eight acres of Cabernet Sauvignon.  The balance of the estate’s vines are planted on terraces starting just above and East of the Trail, both to the North and South of the main drive. These are also planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. Additionally, between the two lower Cabernet blocks, close to the North side of the drive, two acres of Merlot are planted.

The Oakville Estate vineyard, originally planted in the 1870s, but destroyed by Phylloxera in the 1890’s, was replanted by The Sweeney Family in 1985-1987 with AXR-1 rootstock vines. These unfortunately became infested with Phylloxera, and replanting with certified resistant rootstock began in 1990, at a density of about 1,340 vines per acre, on nine vineyard lots. This replanting enabled the old vines to be replaced with exactly suited varietals, clones, rootstocks, and trellising and irrigation systems.

Vine Cliff has three other vineyards in addition to the Oakville bench property.  The Carneros Vineyard consists of twenty-acres located on Carneros Creek.  It was planted with 13 acres of Chardonnay in May of 1999. It will ultimately have about eighteen acres of the twenty total planted with Chardonnay.  The Calistoga Vineyard is located a few miles south of Calistoga, on the east side of the Silverado Trail, about fifteen miles north of the winery.  It is adjacent to the famous Eisele Vineyard and is planted to five acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and one of Cabernet Franc.  Situated on hilly terrain, some of the vineyard is terraced, while the rest is sloping.  And finally the Howell Mountain Vineyard latest vineyard project is a choice site on the higher elevations of Howell Mountain. During the growing season, this vineyard will often be above the fog that can envelop the valley floor. With its south facing slopes and excellent exposure, this vineyard is perfectly suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varieties. The deep iron-red volcanic soils will allow Vine Cliff to ultimately dry farm the vineyard. Protecting this unique environment will also be a main focus of Rob Sweeney's plans for this vineyard.  Wines from the Howell Mountain Appellation have long been acclaimed as being very powerful and concentrated, and this great region will round out our estate vineyard program.

Since 1990 all of Vine Cliff’s vineyards have been managed according to the principles and practices of Sustainable Viticulture. This has meant that, where possible, no pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizer have been used on the vines for almost a decade. Additionally, ten tons of plant materials are returned to the soil as compost annually. The vineyards have native species of grasses planted as ground cover between the rows of vines. These are never plowed under but only cut; allowed to naturally compost and further enrich the soil. The most ecologically complex and diverse biosystem has been established over the years resulting in natural control of plant pests and diseases.  The private stock began as a sixteen row section of the vineyard and has become a selection of the best barrels from each harvest.  We routinely put this wine into blind tastings against the best that Napa has to offer.  At our 2009 California cult wine tasting at Café Maxx we showed this wine in our final flight with Screaming Eagle 2002, Sloan 2003, Pride Reserve 2004, Schrader To Kalon 2006 and blind with 20 tasters the Vine Cliff Private Stock was overwhelmingly the crowd favorite!