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Legendary Winemaker, Unpretentious Winery in Oakville, California
Napa Valley & Sonoma Wine Tasting Tours
Nils Venge, the winemaker and owner of Saddleback Winery, is a legendary figure around Napa Valley.
One major reason: the 1985 Groth Vineyards Cabernet Reserve that he created was the first American wine ever awarded 100 points by influential wine critic Robert Parker.
Another reason is his masterful work with Cabernet Sauvignon in general, which has earned him the nickname “King of Cabernet.”
But, then, he’s equally adept with Merlot, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel, and over the years has consulted to many premier California wineries such as Plumpjack, Envy, Del Dotto and Robert Keenan. Above all, Venge is renowned for the wines produced at his own Saddleback Cellars.
If you’re seeking glitz and glamour on your Napa winery visit, then you’d best go elsewhere: Saddleback makes no pretense to either.
Instead, it offers generous amounts of honest rustic charm and one of the most intimate, down-to-earth winery tastings imaginable. In clear weather you’ll be outside amidst the vines, probably sitting around a picnic table with your own tasting pourer—who will be happy to answer questions and fill you in on the wine-making process.
On rainy days, the tasting occurs inside the working winery, surrounded by barrels.
The winery was named after Saddleback Mountain near Venge’s birthplace in Orange County.
Amenities: Wine Club, Picnic Tables