There are hundreds of wineries in and around Napa Valley, and as long as you’ve got a car, you can get to just about any of them within a few minutes to an hour.
On our first day in the area, we decided that, instead of taking the wine train (which is not our speed: trapped in a moving vehicle with potentially drunk tourists, no thanks), or immediately jumping onto a tour, we’d just tool around for a bit and explore. On one of the side streets just outside of downtown, we found a small wine tasting room representing Vinoce winery.
In what looked like an old warehouse, lit with strings of white Christmas lights suspended from wine barrels on the walls, we met Timothy Nuss, son of proprietors Brian and Lori Nuss. As a young, thirty-something California native, Tim didn’t quite resemble what we had expected in a winemaker. Dressed in a cotton fedora, tattered plaid shirt and blue jeans, with Bob Marley reggae playing in the background, he wasn’t the canned version of luxury that you’d expect of ‘prestigious Napa’. He looked like a normal person, which, generally other normal people can relate to.
Tim poured each of us a taste of their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, and asked what we thought. It was a refreshing wine, with lime blossom and tropical fruits on the nose, a bit of tartaric acid, and lemon and citrus zest on the finish. Not your Napa Valley ‘gatorade’, as Tim referred to the sweet, mass produced juice that California wines have lately become.
Young and hip in their own way, this next generation of winemakers is focused on quality, not mass production, and are eager and ready to set their own course. As he told their family story, you could tell that entrepreneurship and a passion for the business were why Vinoce existed.
Even the name of the winery holds meaning for the family. The name Vinoce, pronounced (vin-o-chay) was a riff on the Nuss Family name and Brian’s German-Italian heritage. Nuss means “nut” in German. By combining the word “vin” for wine, and the Italian word for nut, “Noce”, Vinoce essentially translates to “wine nut.” A fun way to pay homage to what was obviously running through their veins.
Tim went on to tell us about how his parents, Brian and Lori, had worked on wineries for nearly 30 years, before finally saving enough to purchase their own winery on the slopes of Mount Veeder. In 2003, they produced their first vintage, and have been in business every since. During our brief visit, it was nice to see locals come in and out of the tasting room, obviously friends supporting friends with their business.
Tim had to leave early that evening to pour for a tasting at the Andaz hotel, where we happened to be staying for the week. Although we didn’t have a chance to taste through everything, it was a great chance to experience what Napa Valley is truly about.
Next time you’re in the area, be sure to stop in to see Tim at Twenty Rows (what Vinoce calls their tasting room), or attend one of their food, wine, art, and music events.
Twenty Rows Tasting Room can be located at 880 Vallejo St., Napa Valley, CA 94559, or on their website. To make a reservation call 707-265-7750707-265-7750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Nothing better than small lot wines! Thanks for sharing!