Stop 3 - Newton
Newton Vineyard is another beautiful place in Napa, but instead of being rustic, it is all about the English Garden, and 100 % primping and shaping plants into the perfect garden design. Mr Newton is from England, and he just loves the English Garden that grows in the land of mist and peat. Defying all odds in this land of rock and dry air, he manages to have his gardeners keep all his gardens perfectly green and manicured. While we were taking a tour of the Newton Grounds, we were in an area that looks like a lab. There were grapes in the little pumpkin bucket, I think mostly for show. The other lab equipment is meant for liquids, and boiling liquids to determine water and alcohol content I guess. The lab room was a nice bright and sunny room attached to the visitor area.As we toured the wine making area, we came upon cellar cells with Newton Reserves. These are 1.5 L bottles of 1980 cab I think. They are not for general sale. One interesting thing we got to do was to smell a new French oak barrel before wine is put into it to age. The inside of the barrel was charred, and smelled like deep rich vanilla and caramel. It was heavenly. That scent is going to help make some wine smooth, velvety and have a hint of vanilla. How amazing is it to have wine age in the oak barrel, have the essence of the charred oak transfer into the liquid wine, have the wine bottled for years, and then when the cork is popped off, that same scent I smelled will be in the sippers nose years later.
As we made our way to the tasting room, we met Mrs Su Hua Newton, the winemaker. To my surprise she is Chinese! How many women winemakers are there, and how many Chinese women winemakers are there? She is the only Chinese woman winemaker I know, and she came to sit and talk to us while we tasted our wine. She was born in China in the same provence of my mother's family. During the Cultural Revolution, her family sent her to London to leave China and to be educated. She had nothing, and she was taken in by the Catholic Church. Through the kindness of the church which give her a fighting chance to live, she excelled in school, got to live in great European cities, work in interesting places such as with the Coco Chanel House, and earn a PhD in Industrial Psychology. Through all this, she said, she owes her life and fortune to the church which took her in, and her way of paying back is to make the finest wine for a charitable education fund. Mrs Newton went around and hand picked cabernet grapes from Mondavi, Phelps, Newton, Beringer etc and make a limited 2001 vintage. It is called Brother Timothy for Brother Timothy who started the LaSallian Education Fund, and 100% of the proceeds goes to the LaSallian Education Fund. I got one bottle, the most expensive bottle I have ever gotten, but well worth it. I have not opened it yet, but when I think the time is right, I will raise my glass to excellent education for those who are recipients of a LaSallian Scholarship.