I recently had the opportunity to visit Artesa Winery, a well-established winery perched on a hilltop in the famed Carneros Appellation. I arrived there with the thought in mind to write an article focusing solely on their extensive art collection. However, after my visit to the winery (which far exceeded my expectations), I decided to switch gears, and not only share with you my stellar experience with their world-class contemporary art, but also their beautiful wine portfolio as well.
The winding trek up their driveway gives way to a spectacular panoramic view of the entire Napa Valley once you reach the top of the hill. I must have spent ten minutes just looking out over the valley to appreciate the stunning landscape below. The path that leads from the parking lot to the tasting room features a striking circular fountain, ornamented by contemporary sculptures and the golden hills of Napa Valley in the far distance.
When I turned around to continue up the hill, I came face to face with this splendid sculpture. Its colors had a vibrant, Technicolor-like reflection in the sunlight. The stairs leading up to the tasting room are integrated with a cascading waterfall. The soft sounds of flowing water immediately put you in a Zen-mood — relaxed and ready to view some amazing art…and to taste some equally amazing wines.
At the top, I made my way over to an incredible water feature. Both basins were symmetrically positioned on either side of a metal vineyard root sculpture and featured unique sets of metal-art water jets. As I stood admiring it, the jets were off and the water was still—leaving me with just my thoughts and the solitude to quietly appreciate the breathtaking view before me.
The walls of the winery are built into the hillside, creating the perfect union between nature and design. As soon as I opened the gate to the tasting room, the hospitality staff welcomed me in, and immediately handed me a crisp glass of Sparkling Rosé to sip during the tour.
My guide Anne, who was just the kindest, offered me a full tour of the property. Along the way, she explained that Artesa Vineyards belongs to the Spanish family, Codorníu Raventós, who owns several wineries around the world. The Codorníu family wanted this winery to be designed and constructed in accordance with nature, so the architects were charged with creating a tasting room that would be in total harmony with the environment. Having successfully accomplished their mission, the winery opened in 1991 as a sparkling wine house under the name Codorníu Napa. They soon realized though, that the American market was not all that interested in sparkling wines at the time. To reinvent themselves, they added still-winemaking to their repertoire and in 1997, changed the winery’s name to Artesa, which is Catalan for “handcrafted”. Since that time, they’ve become a leading producer of artisan wines from varietals for which Carneros is best known: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
During the tour (with my glass of bubbles in hand), Anne showed me some great spots on the property to take in even more mind-blowing views. On one side of the winery, there’s a large terrace where guests can sit and relax in the sun. When there’s no fog, you can even see the San Francisco skyline!
In the entry and main tasting room, the walls were decorated with incredible pieces of art made by the renowned artist from Napa, Gordon Huether. The rooms were supported by bright white columns and contrasted by the hardwood floors. The winery’s signature style of blending the antique with the modern, sets Artesa apart from any other winery. They’ve created a destination for art connoisseurs of all genres. A place where one can be inspired by design.. and by the grape.
Anne showed me to a private tasting room and our tasting began. In true Catalan flair, Artesa featured an array of delicious Spanish tapas, expertly paired to their wines. On my plate was a shrimp ceviche, tortilla chips, marinated red peppers, crostini, prosciutto, chorizo, cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses…plus a lovely piece of milk chocolate studded with macadamias and cranberries for a sweet bite. Next, came the wines: Sparking Wine, Albariño (a Spanish white laced with stone fruit and minerality), Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Tempranillo.
First up, the Sparkling Wine. Artesa employs the traditional méthode champenoise method for all of their bubblys, and its pairing was a divine Chocolate and Cardamom Truffle. It was an unexpected combination of flavors, yet the sparkling perfectly enhanced the warm cardamom notes while cutting the richness of the chocolate with its balanced acidity.
Next, it was on to the savory components. The delicious and refreshing Shrimp Ceviche (a perfect summer treat) was paired with the crisp and light Albariño. The bright acidity in both the seafood and the wine was an excellent pairing. The marinated red peppers on the crostini were an ideal match for the Sauvignon Blanc. The sweetness of the peppers was tempered by the combination of the Sauvignon Blanc’s creamy mouth-feel (thanks to a hint of toast from the French oak) and a burst of lush tropical fruit flavors including melon, lychee and grapefruit.
For the red wines, we started with Pinot Noir. It was paired with a milk chocolate piece studded with nuts and dried berries. The Pinot was splendid–smoky, spicy and fruity. The partnering of the chocolate wasn’t as interesting to me as my next bite –a piece of cow’s milk cheese with the Pinot. Now, this combination was a homerun!
For our last pairing, we tasted the Tempranillo with the charcuterie: first the chorizo, then the prosciutto, followed by the goat cheese. The chorizo, partnered with the Tempranillo, is a classic in Spanish tapas. So authentic in fact, I felt like I could have been lounging in a rustic bodega somewhere down the back streets of Barcelona.
We ended the tasting with a glass of spicy and fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon, then I was off to wander the grounds solo to take some more pictures…and to walk-off the tasty Spanish tapas I had just enjoyed! It was a warm day in the valley, but the soft winds blowing up the hill to Artesa made my final stroll around the winery delightful.
Napa Valley never ceases to amaze me. Each winery has its own wonderfully unique personality, and Artesa Winery certainly gushes theirs in spades. I’ll never forget their stunning views, modern-inspired art and architecture, and most importantly, the fabulous wines presented in such a warm and gracious manner. I look forward to a return trip soon with my friends and family to show them all that is Artesa Vineyards.
Tapas and Wine – $60 per person – 1:30pm daily
Located in Carneros (Napa Valley)
Louise Veron – firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketing and Social Media Coordinator at VinoVisit.com
Originally from Bordeaux (France), I moved to the Napa Valley to work for VinoVisit.com in 2015. I just finished my trilingual Master’s degree in Wine Tourism and International Marketing and graduated with honors. As a real food and wine lover, I’m enjoying exploring the area and relating my discoveries from a very French point of view.