Schramsberg was the first vineyard we visited in Calistoga. The turn off is just south of the town, and the road is quite narrow as it goes up the mountain side. And I mean narrow! I don't know how two cars fit on that road, and we were told during harvest, the main trucks don't go up it. Smaller carts bring the grapes up as the trucks wait at the bottom.
The tour started outside where our guide went over the history of the vineyard, and its first owner, Jacob Schram, who immigrated from Germany to New York when he was a teenager, and in 1862, bought the property. His name is part of the vineyard since Schramsberg means "Schram's Mountain" since berg in German is mountain. His vineyard wasn't set up to make sparkling wine, which came later. After Schram and his wife died, his son sold the property, and eventually, in the 1960s, the property was sold to Jack and Jamie Davies, who wanted to produce prestigious sparkling wine.
Our tour consisted of that history and going into the caves. We were warned if people get claustrophobic, it would be challenging for them since the caves are small. Some of the caves were made with hand picks by the original crew when the vineyard was first established. You can even see the pick marks still on the walls of the caves. Other parts of the caves are wider because they were dug with modern machines in the '80s. What was fun was it was a bottling day so we had to stand back as carts were brought in quickly to get the bottles in the caves and start the aging process. They keep mesh netting over those groups for the first 6 weeks because with the yeast in the bottles, there's risk of bottles exploding.
After the caves was the tasting. Sparkling wine isn't the only wine produced, but it's the reason I wanted to go to Schramsberg. Over the years, I've learned that I love Blanc de Blancs, which was included in the tasting. I like my Champagne/sparkling wine dry, just like I prefer my wines. Sweet wine is just too sweet for me.
Blanc de Blanc
Blanc de Noir
4 sparkling wines and a red wine, the j.d, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon. I was a little surprised that we didn't get to taste the Rose, and I kind of wanted to since I love Moet & Chandon's Rose Brut. They also make a Demi-sec that wasn't part of the tasting either, but because we arrived early enough, our tour guide let us taste it as a bonus.
Let's just say I loved them all, but my favorite was the Blanc de Noir actually, not the Blanc de Blanc. That was pretty good too, but the Blanc de Noir had some backbone that gave the wine some oomph. When she poured each wine, our tour guide told us what each wine pairs best with, and she mentioned Thanksgiving turkey with the Blanc de Noir. Has me thinking...