Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cultivating Wine & Music at Bouchaine

What is so lovely as a day in July in the Carneros, as the morning fog lifts and sunshine splashes across the vine-covered hills that comprise this cool viticultural area that shares its boundaries with Napa Valley, Sonoma County and San Pablo Bay?

A small group of wine writers were recently guests there of Tatiana and Gerret Copeland, owners of the Burgundian-styled Bouchaine Vineyards, which lays claim to being the oldest continuously operated winery in the Carneros. The facility was resurrected 27 years ago as a partnership, and the Copelands have owned Bouchaine as sole proprietors since 1991.

Although Bouchaine makes a variety of small-lot wines from purchased grapes for sale at the winery tasting room and through its wine club, Bouchaine is best known for its delicious estate-grown Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, in recent years made under the guidance of Michael Richmond. During the days we were at Bouchaine, my fellow writers and I spent many hours in the back of a flat-bed truck, which served as both a forward observation point and a lecture hall as Richmond, the Copelands, and wine production & sales VP Greg Gauthier discussed the fine points of Carneros history, grape growing and wine production. We also tasted Bouchaine wines by the gallons (no spitting, please), including the 2007 Bouchaine "Copeland" Estate Pinot Noir, possibly the best Pinot that Richmond has yet made. Unfortunately, there are only a few hundred bottles of it, and it has not yet been released. Great food? Yes, there was that, too.

But the Copelands are also patrons of the arts, both in Napa Valley and at their primary home in Delaware, so we were invited to attend daily musical performances which were part of the rapidly growing Napa Valley Festival del Sole. Bouchaine is a founding sponsor of the festival, with a special interest in its Bouchaine Young Artist Concert program.

Of course, this is just the icing on the cake. I will be writing more about Bouchaine, Festival del Sole, Carneros and the Copelands in various publications and will keep you posted.

"Darioush, Darioush, will you do the fandago?" (Apologies to Queen.) At a lovely performance of Iranian music at the amphiteater abutting Darioush Winery, proprietor Darioush Khaledi dances with his grandaughter (right) while mezzo-soprano Raeeka Shehabi-Yaghmai (lower right) accompanies the work of piano virtuoso Anoushirvan Rohani. Below, Tatiana and Gerret Copeland with young cellist Clark Pang after his performance at the Napa Opera House. Upper left, winemaker virtuoso Mike Richmond is satisfied putting grapes to music.

Until next time...

Roger Morris

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