Though Palmaz Vineyards isn’t far from downtown Napa, it definitely feels off the beaten path. This might be because it's inside a mountain, with a series of caves housing its winemaking process. It's all very Bat Cave meets James Bond, especially because one of the corridors houses a fleet of historical Porsches, which the Palmaz boys still race.
You’ll enter the winery on the 4th level (in the middle of the mountain). A Palmaz family member will usher you into the mountainside through two large doors and detail the historical significance of the property before taking you on a tour of the caves and the wine making process.
Everything here is done with gravity flow, the natural and gentle process of using gravity to move the grape juice to tanks and barrels as it becomes wine. In the past, without pumps, all wineries were forced to use gravity. This process is both a nod to the founding fathers of wine as well as a technique used to avoid the harsh circumstances that machines sometimes create. Similarly, storing all their wine in caves keeps it at the perfect temperature without the use of air conditioning or heat.
The winery is made up of a semi-circle of caves and spokes, shaped much like a wagon wheel and lined with wine barrels. At the center of the wheel is a gigantic dome where the fermentation tanks are stored and moved using an automated system. At the base of the dome is an intricately tiled floor with the letter "P" at the center, nearly 4 stories down from the top.
The wines and well-paired accompaniments are served in a large but homey room or on a lavish sundeck above the winery with views of the vineyard. Palmaz wines are soft and balanced, rich with spices and worth the premium they charge.
Tours by appointment only
Wines: $45-$120.00 and sell out quickly.