V. Sattui Winery Review
Address: 1111 White Lane St. Helena,California 94574.
Phone Number: 707-963-7774
Tasting Hours: 9:00-6:00 (winter 9:00-5:00)
Region: Napa Valley AVA, St. Helena AVA, California
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 5/22/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
By 1985, V. Sattui Winery was able to build a beautiful stone winery amid the venerable 250 year-old oaks, reminiscent of the late 19th century wineries in Italy and France. With its two stories, tower, wine caves and underground aging cellars, its completion was a fitting tribute to help celebrate the centennial of Vittorio’s dream.
The above is just a small piece of the colorful and memorable history of V. Sattui Winery as described on the V. Sattui website. Not only is V. Sattui an idyllic place to taste a variety of excellent wines and enjoy a tranquil picnic, it personifies the American dream. Twice.
Vittorio Sattui was a baker who came to San Francisco from Italy in 1882. He made wine, too, but just for fun. By 1885, he had the means and the reputation to become a full-time winemaker; he made wine from St. Helena grapes and delivered it to customers homes in the Bay Area and eventually as far north as Oregon and Washington. Then Prohibition killed the business and, it seemed, the dream.
In 1975, Vittorios great-grandson, Dario Sattui, was able to begin construction on the winery building that later became the present-day Napa Valley tasting room. The story is on the V. Sattui website and is fascinating; the revitalization of the V. Sattui winery almost didnt happen, but fortunately it did, and today we have nearly 50 different wines to choose from.
The Place:  As mentioned, the structure built on the present day-site in 1975 has since been turned into V. Sattuis tasting room. V. Sattui does not distribute; the wines can be bought on-site at the tasting room and shipped directly to you, but you wont find them in your neighborhood restaurant or wine store. So its probably a good thing that the tasting room is huge and boasts more bar space than any other tasting room in Napa.
Another gift Dario Sattui brought to his Napa winery is his memory of European meat markets. He fashioned V. Sattuis Cheese Shop and Deli after the markets he remembered from living in Europe meats and cheeses hanging on display, tasting booths, and gourmet food items. Walking into the winery is an assault on the senses. I strongly advise tasting everything you can. They even had gluten-free crackers, which made me extraordinarily happy!
The People:  The place was bustling, even at midday on a random Wednesday in May. We were excited to learn that the young lady pouring our tastes was actually Vittorio Sattuis great-great granddaughter, Danica. I think that in itself made us feel special, and it spoke to the deep-seated family commitment to this family business. She was extraordinarily patient with me as I pored (no pun intended) over the tasting menu, trying to decide which of the 28 wines to try.
The Wines:  There were 28 wines on the tasting list, and 47 on the order form, and I felt like a kid in a candy store. Its $10 for a Premium Tasting and $15 for a Reserve Tasting; fortunately, there were three of us doing tastings, so we passed glasses back and forth and tasted a wide variety of wines. I will admit that I skipped the sweet wines altogether but I am a little bit nuts about red Zinfandel, and there were four on the tasting list, so I knew I wanted to save at least four tastes for those!
We did start with a few whites. The Sauvignon Blanc is nice and light and would be an excellent summer wine. I had two Chardonnays; the Sattui Family Chardonnay I found to have just a little too much oak influence, but the Napa Valley Chardonnay was perfectly smooth and buttery. The Pinot Noir was very light, and the Sattui Family Red proved to be an excellent accompaniment for the picnic lunch we bought and ate outside once we were done tasting. I found the Syrah to be good but a bit tannic for me; however, the Vittorios Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was lovely and smooth.
Okay, I admit it. I brought three of the Zinfandels home with me: the 35th Anniversary, which is very fruit-forward, jammy, and smooth; the Gilsson, which is a pretty big Zin, but I actually wrote “yay” beside it on my tasting sheet; and the Old Vine Ramazzotti, dry and balanced.
When we were finishing up, my fiancé mentioned that he liked Port, so Danica brought out an extra taste of the Madeira for him to try. Its a sweet but zingy dessert wine, and lets just say it packs a punch, and I was ready for some cheese and prosciutto afterward!
Perhaps because V. Sattui doesnt distribute, they have numerous options for wine clubs. Price ranges vary quite a bit, so theres something for everyone.
Because of its history, service, variety and quality of wines, unique gourmet shop, beauty, and the fact that you cant get their wines anywhere else V. Sattui is a must-visit Napa winery.