Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Life is Sweet in Napa Valley with Taylor Family Vineyards

Life is Sweet in Napa Valley with Taylor Family Vineyards

By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

“God is in the details.”
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

The next winery Titus chauffeured us to was Taylor Family Vineyards, home of the tagline: three generations, one passion.  There we sat down for a “Family Meal” of wine and cheese at the family’s “Treehouse” with Pat “Nana” Taylor (Grandmother) and Danielle (Granddaughter).  Like every family there were some strong opinions: “Nana believes Chardonnay is the Fountain of Youth,” was one of the first statements out of Daniel’s mouth! ;-)

The Taylor Family has deep roots in the Napa Valley, as their Patriarch, Jerry Taylor was a fifth generation Napa Valley farmer.  Their story began when Pat and Jerry Taylor (who were married for 59 years) purchased the estate in (what would become) the Stags Leap District in 1976.  They knew they had picked the right location when Lillian Disney (Walt Disney’s widow) bought the property right next to them.  The original vineyard was planted by their family in 1980.  Pat and Jerry sold their grapes to various wineries before becoming Vintners.

In 2002, their daughter, Sandy and her husband, Phil, approached them about starting a winery.  Jerry Taylor told her that he would be happy to grow the grapes and drink the wine, if she would do everything in between.  Sandy found those terms more than agreeable, and at that point, Taylor Family Vineyards was born.  “We planted all the originals vines by hand, immersed in the dirt and rocks.”

Transitioning from Farmers to Vintners was a huge change.  For the family, it has been a wonderful change, as it allows three generations of Taylor’s to work together.  In the beginning, Sandy ran the winery by herself, relying on her background as a controller in the wine industry and occasional support of her family.  Today, Sandy works with her Mom (Pat), her husband (Phil), her brother (Mike), her son (Tyler), and her daughter (Danielle).  Working for the winery is the second career for all family members involved.  Taylor Family Vineyards is truly a family business.  Their winery is completely family operated, with no non-family employees, but they do not have a professional winemaker in their family and are honored to work with their two consulting winemakers, Gustavo Brambila and Kristy Melton.  

The ultimate boutique wine, Taylor Family Winery produces only 2,000 cases a year.  Because all their sales are through their wine club, they know that every member has had a direct connection to a member of their family.  This one degree connection translates to a devout brand loyalty: their Rosé sold out within 2 hours of them posting it online.  “Our customers consider themselves extensions of our family, they use our wines for special occasions and tag us in it,” noted Danielle.

Which is true even of the Thomas Gals as we used their Five, Six, Seven to celebrate our first family dinner the day after Kelly got married to Omid! ;-)

Some favorites from our time at Taylor Family Vineyards include:

  • Hillside Chardonnay (2016) “People look down on Chardonnay, but it’s all that Nana drinks.”  Rich with bright acidity this wine is 100% Chardonnay.  A Hipster Chardonnay, it’s the one that everyone wants to be drinking.  Friendly with notes of green apples and cloves.  Not oakey, not steely, but where balance is the key.   
  • Five, Six, Seven (2015) A family favorite that represents the five generations of the Taylor Family.  A blend of varietals (Cabernet, Cab Franc, and Petit Syrah) and families.  When making this wine every year, the entire family sits down with the winemakers to decide the perfect blend of varietals that makes their family’s representation in a bottle.  This wine with it’s bright plum fruit speaks of lip perfect underage wisdom.  The metal industrial labels are hand applied (to 90 cases individually...).  
  • Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (2014) Their Flagship wine from the hillsides of their family estate in the Stags Leap District.  Luminous notes of Blackberry and Cocoa Powder, it’s flavors dancing with brilliance. 
Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at

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