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Exploring Napa Valley Chardonnay at Historic Stony Hill Vineyard

Exploring Napa Valley Chardonnay at Historic Stony Hill Vineyard

Caroline Shifflett

One of the oldest family-run wineries in the Napa Valley, the McCrea family has been making world-class wines from their hillside vineyards on Spring Mountain at the northern end of the Napa Valley since 1952. The third generation of the family now runs the day-to- day operations and continues to produce wines of impeccable quality and longevity while balancing modern techniques and innovation with Old World tradition.

If you find yourself in the Valley, they offer a wonderful tour and tasting by appointment. The tour begins with a walk through the vineyards and a sip of their Gewurztaminer, followed by a tour of the original cellar with a glass of Riesling. Some of the oldest barrels in the Valley can be found (some from the 1960’s are still in use!) in their cellar! Stony Hill uses entirely neutral oak so wines are allowed their true expression.

The tour continues in the main house with a comparative Chardonnay tasting, the estate Cabernet Sauvignon (the only red they produce) and the Semillon dessert wine. It’s no surprise I absolutely adored their Chardonnay. Stony Hill is known as some of the most respected and highly sought-after California Chardonnay out there. While some Napa Chardonnays are known for their overly oaked and buttery style, this expression from Stony Hill is everything I want in my Chardonnay! They describe it best when they say the wines are “lean, bright, elegant, and food friendly”.

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We compared the 2008 to the 2015 Chardonnay, and while I liked both for different reason, the 2008 was unbelievably good! The nose was still bright and fresh, with classic Chardonnay notes of citrus and green apple with an underlying wet stone minerality. The wine was still crisp yet had developed a roundness and richness on the finish.