I stumbled upon Arroyo winery many years ago after an article appeared in Southwest magazine on the top 5 lesser known vineyards to hit in the Napa region. Although the magazine article brought a lot headache due to a huge increase in visitors for a short while, some loyal wine lovers were created as well.
Vincent Arroyo is a very small production winery with an annual case production of about 8,000 of seven different varietals. He pretty much was a one man show for awhile and when you’d visit the tasting room (which was right across from his house), you’d meet him. The last time I was there for an event, he obviously had quite a bit of help and the place was packed – they were offering golf cart shuttle from the street back to the barrel areas!
His signature wine is the Petite Syrah which almost always sells out prior to even bottling. You need to get on a waiting list for it but trust me, it’s worth it! In addition, he produces a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and several red blends. Their signature Petite Syrah is developed into several different bottlings: Napa Valley Petite Syrah (blend of their many vineyards), 2 vineyard designated ones – Greenwood Ranch & Rattlesnake Acres, Winemaker’s Reserve Petite Syrah (barrel aged for 34 months) and a Petite Syrah Port.
One fun element to Vince’s take on winemaking is his dogs get in on the action! Each year, he features a special wine named after one of the dogs. The first year I met Vincent, he was working on J.J.’s blend! JJ runs around the vineyard and loves to run and jump on the barrels, especially to retrieve his tennis ball! Both JJ and Bodega were featured on the Napa Dogs winery calendar in 2007!
Vincent Arroyo hosts several events each year that are worthwhile to check out (if you can get in!!)
– Barrel Sampling Event – Last Saturday of February each year (free). Opportunity to taste all the wines still in the barrel and sample delicious food!
– Open House – First Saturday of May each year (free). They bring out the previously released library wines which have been sold out for people to try! This is an opportunity for people to see how their wines are aging.
– Winemaker Dinner – First weekend in May (reservation only, $$)
– Arroyo Open – August (fee -$$). The winery holds the Arroyo Open in St. Helena every year. Unique challenges at various holes, and a catered buffet dinner paired with wine.
-Amigos De Arroyo (unk). This is “THE” event if you can get in. Every October they get a group together to harvest and hand pick grapes, transport them back to the winery for stomping. Once all the work is dine, feast on paeall prepared over an open fire and drink some of his best wines. Each member of the group will eventually receive 2 bottles of wine they helped make once it has been bottled AND they are all listed on the label as winemakers! This is obviously a very popular event and you must be entered into a lottery to even have a chance at participating!
NOTE TO VISITORS WANTING TO TASTE: You MUST call ahead for an appointment now! For groups of 6 or less, the tastings are still complementary as far as I know. For groups of 7 or more, the fee is $5 per person. Please be respectful and make reservations ahead of time versus showing up direct at the winery.