Napa County’s ghost wineries: Their stories continue

Napa writer and historian Rebecca Yerger continues her online series on Napa County ghost wineries on Tuesdays, March 9 through 30, from 7 to 8 p.m.

Her second installment of this series will focus on historic wineries associated with pioneer women of Napa Valley’s wine industry, including trail-blazing women wine-makers Hannah Weinberger and Josephine Marlin Tychson.

In addition to the architectural heritage and preservation of their wineries, Yerger will delve into their individual stories, including the similar and tragic catalysts of Weinberger and Tychson’s viticulture careers.

For additional details, and to register, please visit napacountylandmarks.org, or call 707-255-1836.

Yerger will also present a free Women’s History Month program highlighting “Diverse Pioneers: Historical Women of Napa Valley” on Saturday, March 20, from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information, please visit napalibrary.org/events or call 707-253-4235.

Derek Baljeu named assistant winemaker at Knights Bridge

Knights Bridge, a family-owned winery in the pristine Knights Valley appellation of Sonoma County, has announced the promotion of Derek Baljeu to assistant winemaker.

Baljeu joined Knights Bridge in 2019 as an enologist and wine production manager following three years at Trinchero Family Estates, in the Luxury Portfolio. He holds a master of science and bachelor of science degrees in viticulture and enology from UC Davis.

During his time at UC Davis, Baljeu worked in a research capacity focused on phenolic development in the Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, and in positions at Silverado Farming in Napa Valley and Jessie’s Grove Winery in Lodi.

He was also awarded Scholar-Athlete of the Year for his standout performance in the classroom and on the field playing fullback and tight end for the Aggies.

“It’s a privilege to work with our estate fruit and I am honored to be a part of this next chapter at Knights Bridge,” Baljeu said. “I’m already looking forward to harvest 2021 and making this first vintage in the new winery.”

Knights Bridge Winery was founded in 2006 by brothers Jim and Essel Bailey and friend Tom Costin, in the west side of Knights Valley, the warmest appellation in Sonoma County. The organically-farmed estate rises to 900 feet in elevation on the rocky slopes of the Mayacamas mountain range. The winery is under construction and set for completion by mid-2021. To learn more, visit knightsbridgewinery.com.

Phelps Cabernet Release Weekend

Joseph Phelps Vineyards in St. Helena is returning its onsite winery experiences with careful safety standards.

This month, the winery marks its Cabernet Release Weekend, taking place March 19 to 21. The entirely outdoor event invites guests to enjoy a bottle of the recently released 2018 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley accompanied by pairings from the culinary team. This special event is offered by prior appointment only, with reservations beginning at 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

On the Tasting Terrace, guests can now return to the relaxed, seated tasting space and enjoy a selection of its current release Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wines, including Insignia. It’s open Thursday through Monday by appointment, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The experience is limited to six guests per party.

Bountiful Table offers a pairing of seasonal ingredients with the vineyard’s wines, including Insignia. It is available by appointment Thursday through Sunday at noon.

At the Insignia Blending Seminars, visitors play winemaker for a day and learn the art of blending Joseph Phelps’ flagship Insignia. They smell, taste and experiment with blending six Insignia components, then compare their blend with the current Insignia vintage. This is available by appointment on Mondays.

Starting on March 26, Joseph Phelps is bringing its semi-private Insignia Retrospective Tasting online, with a virtual tasting of the 2006, 2013, and 2017 Insignia. In advance, participants will receive a wine packet containing notes on each vintage, a wine key & ah-so, decanting tips, and virtual tasting set-up instructions will also be shipped. It is available on Fridays at 3 p.m. and Saturdays at 1 a.m., by appointment

Call 707-967-3720 or email reservations@josephphelps.com to make reservations.

New from Balletto

Balletto Vineyards, a family-owned estate wineries in Sonoma County has released “winter whites” that will easily move into spring.

They have farm 16 estate vineyards in the Russian River Valley AVA since the 1970s. Their estate vineyards are located in the southeastern region of the Russian River Valley, where the ebb and flow of the Pacific Ocean fog provides the cool climate in which their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes thrive.

New releases include the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc ($20), a crisp, dry, elegant version of this grape; the 2019 Pinot Gris ($20) with citrus and slate aromas; the 2019 Teresa’s Unoaked Chardonnay ($20), and the 2017 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($29) for which new oak has been used sparingly for subtle toasted tones, rather than dominating the aromatic profile.

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