1100 Larkmead Ln.
Calistoga CA 94515
110 ac – 90,000 bt
In the late 1880s the rambunctious daughter of San Francisco’s genteel Hitchcock family was sent to live a more decorous life in the countryside. Lillie Hitchcock called the estate Larkmead after the numerous finches on the property, eventually planting Zinfandel and Riesling vines and constructing a winery in 1884. The Italian-Swiss Salmina family took over in 1895 and survived Prohibition by selling must and sacramental wine. After a short dormancy, the estate was purchased by Larry Solari in 1948 and he strove to restore the winery to its original glory. It remains in the Solari-Baker family to this day.
The historic 110-acre vineyard is bisected by Larkmead Lane. Framed by three waterways, the vineyard contains seven different soil types including gravel, clay, sand, and loam, an amalgam of classic Napa terroirs moved and united by wind, water, and gravity. In 1995 the vineyard underwent a complete replanting, this time to red grapes, and in the 2000s an additional 80 acres were planted; only a tiny block of pre-prohibition Tocai Friulano remains.
Named for the winery’s founder, the textural, silky Lillie Sauvignon Blanc 2016 offers classic flavors of citrus, melon and peach. Bramble, blackberry, and plum contrast with green pepper and chocolate in the Cabernet Sauvignon 2015; full-bodied, but with powerful, svelte tannins the wine impresses with its litheness on the palate. Slightly shy upon uncorking, the delicately spiced nose of cinnamon red hots and roses of the Dr. Olmo 2014 (Great Wine) transforms into a dazzling array of green pepper, incense, violets, dust, and cassis. While intensely aromatic, the wine proves ethereal on the palate, belying its 14.7% with sultry, extremely well-integrated, Nebbiolo-esque tannins.
PLANT PROTECTION copper and sulphur
WEED CONTROL mowing
YEASTS commercial cultured yeast, spontaneous fermentation
GRAPES 100% estate-grown
Images via https://larkmead.com/