A Visit to Waterstone Winery’s Tasting Room at the Taste of Oxbow in Downtown Napa, California

During one of my many visits to the Napa Valley, Brett and I accidentally stumbled upon Waterstone Wines while at the Taste of Oxbow Center in Downtown Napa.  We had finished a delightful lunch at the new Taylor’s Refresher and were stopping in at Gustavo Thrace across the street when I spotted a sign for Mahoney’s tasting room, whose wines I’ve tried several times.  After finishing our visit to Gustavo Thrace, I brought my husband next door to Mahoney to try their Syrah I love so much.  Turns out, the tasting room features wines from both Mahoney and Waterstone.  Although we had to be up in Calistoga for a cooking demonstration in 2 hours, I certainly was not going to miss an opportunity to try some new wines!


Mahoney and Waterstone Wines

Waterstone Wines and Mahoney are separate wineries, but they share the tasting room space.  Not a bad idea given the cost of real estate in Napa and it is a great way to get more exposure for both wineries.  I have to say – I was very impressed with all the Waterstone Wines we tried.  My favorite by far was their 2004 Reserve Cabernet.  This wine is very complex – from the subtle oak nose and the instant burst of fruit on the palette, to the smooth, long, lingering finish.

Who is behind Waterstone Wines?

Waterstone Winery is a collaboration between winemaker Philip Zorn and wine executive Brent Shortridge.  Formed in 2000, this is still a relatively new and up and coming player in the field of longtime wine greats.  Their vision for Waterstone was simple and proved to be “fruitful” – make luxury wines at affordable prices.

Using their network of Napa Valley contacts, Zorn and Shortridge focused on the wine making process itself versus searching for land and facilities.  Using intelligent sourcing resources, they neither own vineyards nor facilities where the wine is made.

Types of Wines Offered by Waterstone Winery

At the time of my visit, Waterstone was offering:

  • Chardonnay
  • Merlot
  • Syrah
  • Pinot Noir
  • Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Sauvignon


Mahoney Cabernet

Their vast experience and directed focus on the Napa Valley viticultural nuances have resulted in a superb offering of wines.  Although every wine we tried could’ve easily come home with us – the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is my current favorite, hands down.   We are not the only ones who think this wine is a great find – the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve received 91 points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Taste at Oxbow: Downtown Napa Tasting Room

The tasting room has a really modern design, with more classic wine country touches throughout.  The tasting room was designed with green in mind and features sustainable elements – chemical free paints, energy efficient light fixtures, and organic retail items.

To taste wines here, you pay either $10 for four wines, or you can even order by the glass!

The tasting room is located at:

708 First Street (corner of McKinstry Street)

Napa, CA

(707) 265-9600

Hours:  Sun – Thurs: 12pm – 7pm and Fri-Sat: 12pm – 9pm

Mahoney Vineyards: www.mahoneyvineyards.com

Waterstone Winery: www.waterstonewines.com

Taste at Oxbow Center: www.tasteatoxbow.com

Calistoga Wineries: Vincent Arroyo Wines

Meeting Vincent Arroyo back in 2003

Meeting Vincent Arroyo back in 2003

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!

My signed bottle of 2000 Greenwood Ranch Petite Syrah

My signed bottle of 2000 Greenwood Ranch Petite Syrah

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!!)

Vincent Arroyo at Barrel Sampling Party in 2008

Vincent Arroyo at Barrel Sampling Party in 2008

- 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!

Barrel Sampling Party 2008

Barrel Sampling Party 2008

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.

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