Appellation Tasting

Napa Cabernet and Beyond

Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s the reason to come to Napa Valley. Or is it?

No one in the Historic Tasting Room at Freemark Abbey would really argue this point. The winery’s hospitality team is as well-versed as any in Napa Valley on the many merits of classic Napa Cabernet. With additional tools at their disposal—namely the winery’s legendary Chardonnay, and also Merlot, Viognier, Malbec, and a handful of other varietal wines—they certainly can (and do) augment the Cabernet-centric offerings for visitors to the St. Helena winery.

It’s all for the sake of comparison—not an easy thing for some Napa Valley producers to accomplish when their offerings are, by choice or necessity, quite limited. The wide range of wines produced by Freemark Abbey allows for comprehensive tasting experiences, simply making it a great place to visit.

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Freemark Abbey St Helena comparative wine tasting

Tasting Six Napa Valley Wines

Walk through the heavy, wood doors of the Historic Tasting Room, and you’re instantly greeted by a member of Freemark’s team. This is wine country hospitality done the right way: a welcoming tasting bar in an elegant stone building, manned by people who can’t wait to tell you about the wines they're pouring that day.

The Appellation Tasting, available by reservation only (and free for winery club members and up to three guests), is a perfect segue-way into the Freemark Abbey portfolio. Six Napa Valley wines are poured in three side-by-side comparisons.

A recent offering included: a pair of Chardonnays from Carneros and Howell Mountain; a single-vineyard Rutherford Merlot from the iconic Bosché Vineyard lined up against the Partner’s Blend, a Right Bank Bordeaux-style red; and two appellation-specific Cabernet Sauvignons from the contrasting Oakville and Mount Veeder regions.

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Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Wines

Flavors and Facts

Each of the wines, or those on a different Appellation Tasting menu, has a story to tell about where in Napa Valley it came from, how it came to be a Freemark Abbey bottling, and what aromatic and flavor attributes it might display in the glass. In fact, according to one tasting room manager, that exact question—“So, what am I looking for in this wine?”—is asked by visitors almost every day, whether they’re first-time tasters or wine aficionados.

The sum total of the experience, skillfully guided by a Freemark team member, is a casual but highly informed glimpse into winemaking from one of the best wineries in St. Helena—or anywhere in Napa Valley. The Appellation Tasting is equal parts colorful narrative and in-depth analysis, all under one spectacular roof.

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Freemark Abbey Winery tasting room St. Helena