4th September, 2013

The Ireland Funds WineGeese Society Tour of Sonoma and Napa 2013

The Ireland Funds WineGeese Society – Welcome Dinner, St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, September 4, 2013

The Ireland Funds WineGeese Society Tour of Sonoma and Napa 2013

For five days in September, the WineGeese explored the riches of Sonoma and Napa beginning in the Russian River Valley area at DuMOL, where our hosts, proprietors and honored WineGeese members Kerry and Margie Murphy, gave us a delightful tour of their winery. We were especially fortunate – in the midst of crush – to have winemaker and viticulturist Andy Smith guide us through a tasting of their superb wines.

Kerry Murphy, first generation Scots-Irish, is the founding partner of DuMOL. Established in 1990 to produce Burgundian style varietals, DuMOL is consistently reviewed and rated by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator in the mid to high 90s. These wines can be found in the White House, the American Embassy in Paris, France, and fine restaurants in the US and abroad.

After a light lunch at the Mayacama Club, our home for the night, the group relaxed at this luxurious retreat in the heart of wine country with a world-class private golf club amongst the spreading oaks and golden vineyards. Our hosts for the evening, Margie and Kerry Murphy featured their classic DuMOL wines with a superb dinner at the Mayacama Club.

DuMOL Mayacama Menu

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DuMOL consistently produces extraordinarily fine wines sourced from California’s Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, and Carneros (Sonoma) appellations.

The following morning we left the tranquility of Sonoma for the Napa Valley where we were joined by proprietor Tim Duncan at Silver Oak Cellars in Oakville for a private tour and luncheon.  The ancestor of the Duncan family was Nicholas Duncan from County Mayo in the West of Ireland, who settled in New Jersey in 1841, the same year in which he married Isabella McBoyle, whose family originated from the town of Boyle in County Roscommon.  Raymond T Duncan (whose middle name is Twomey after his mother’s maiden name) first engaged in the California wine trade, when in partnership with Justin Meyer, he established Silver Oak Cellars in Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, in 1972.  For 40 years, they have been producing exceptional, food-friendly Cabernets that are extensively aged to be drinkable upon release.  Their Alexander Valley and Napa Valley Cabernet wines are as distinctive as they are delicious. The Silver Oak and Twomey wines were beautifully paired with Chef Dominic Orsini’s delicious menu. You can find his recipes at www.silveroak.com/food/recipes.

After such a gracious and charming luncheon, we made our way to our home for the next three nights, the Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville, Napa Valley – the ideal location for exploring the Napa Valley. We dined at Clos Pegase in Calistoga where Founder and Proprietor Jan Shrem created a temple to art and wine, sharing not only his wine, but his personal art collection with guests.  The visit was both an enlightening and enjoyable experience, with figures from Greek and Roman mythology – from Pegasus to Bacchus and Gaia – making continual appearances in the art and architecture of the winery, and the unique cave theatre.

Saturday morning we explored the unique wines produced in the foothills surrounding the Napa Valley; the Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder appellations.  We started our tour at O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery where Proprietor Betty O’Shaughnessy gave us a fascinating tour of the winery followed by lunch on the terrace overlooking the spectacular scenery near Angwin. She told us she fell in love with the Napa Valley after her first visit in 1975.  By 2003 she had purchased additional vineyards on Howell Mountain and Mount Veeder, added a cave, and winery.  These mountain Cabernet Sauvignon wines are garnering tremendous interest in the wine world.

We wound our way back to our hotel stopping en route for a tour and tasting at the exquisite Hall Wines where in 2005, Craig and Kathryn Hall unveiled a state-of-the-art winery amid the legendary Sacrashe Vineyard in the hills of Rutherford that is dedicated to making single vineyard and limited-production wines.  Antonio Galloni observes, “. . . a meticulous approach to vineyard and cellar work, including organic farming, native fermentations and malos, and the avoidance of fining and/or filtration informs wines of true pedigree and personality. The Hall wines are unapologetically big, powerful and exceptionally well balanced.”

Our final evening in Napa was a glorious feast of wine, food, and dancing at the home of WineGeese patrons Pepper and Michael Jackson where we were joined by Sean Larkin of Larkin Wines where we were treated to his recently bottled Larkin Port 2008. Betty O’Shaughnessy of O’Shaughnessy Estate Winery also joined us and delighted everyone with the O’Shaughnessy Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Howell Mountain. We were delighted to see once again Joanne DePuy who helped facilitate the famous international blind tasting in Paris in 1976, known as the Judgement of Paris and Marimar Torres whose Marimar Estate Bonita’s Hill Chardonnay 2009, Russian River Valley was simply delicious.

The evening was capped off by dancing and singing with the added pleasure of Dan Mulvihill who transported us to Ireland with his rendition of “Danny Boy” so beautifully backed by the Black Brothers, who provided the evening’s music . Pepper and Michael Jackson, the most gracious of WineGeese hosts, provided a perfect ending to a glorious trip.

The WineGeese will take flight again in October 2014 to discover the delights to be found in Tuscany.