As Gillian mentioned in her previous post, she grew up in Sonoma, California, so when we head back to visit her family, we have been known to frequent some Sonoma wineries like Ravenswood, Cline, Viansa, etc. Wines in Sonoma are amazing, and they are the first wines we pick when we’re in the States, but when Gillian describes where she is from, people often give her a quizzical look. Then she says “it’s north of San Francisco” and if necessary, “it’s right next to Napa” and suddenly they understand.
Of all the times we’ve been to her hometown together, we’ve hardly ventured into Napa for any reason at all, much less for some wine tasting, but then we found this place: a winery that bears our last name!
We are, unfortunately, not related in any way to the Burgesses of this winery, nor did we really “find” this place. A good friend of ours works at another Napa winery and brought us a fantastic bottle from Burgess Cellars wine a year ago, with the promise that she would arrange a trip to the winery the next time we were in Sonoma. Monica was not messing around, and despite having a 6-week-old infant, she and her husband Jason drove us up to this beautiful winery up on the hill north of St. Helena.
The winery started back in 1972 when a guy named Tom Burgess bought a 1870s-era vineyard. Tom is from Ohio (so definitely no relation to my Brooklyn-born relatives) and cultivated a taste for wine after being stationed in Europe while flying in the Air Force. When he began Burgess Cellars, there were only a handful of wineries in Napa Valley, it being a few years before Napa gained world recognition in 1976 (as depicted in the movie Bottle Shock). The woman pouring wines for us told us how much he paid per acre, and the number so low it made me long for a time machine.
It’s still family-run and a relatively small outfit with three separate vineyards totaling just over 100 acres. Their Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs and Merlots are all fantastic and award-winning, and they grow a total of eight different varietals.
If you find yourself in Napa Valley (and have already been to some Sonoma wineries, of course), check out Burgess Cellars. It’s beautiful and tranquil and a nice change of pace from the wineries on the main drag of St. Helena Highway.
Tastings are done twice a day (10:30 and 2) in small groups and by appointment only, so call ahead or send an email to make a reservation. $10 will get you six different wines, but the fee is waved if you purchase a bottle. Most wines range from $30-80 and we walked away with a bottle of Petit Sirah that made the long journey back the Barcelona with us.
For more info, check out their website, and when you show up, tell them the Burgesses sent you 😉