Halloween is more than just a day at Flora Springs…it’s an entire season! After all, with one of the few remaining Napa Valley Ghost Wineries on our property, we’re reminded year-round that there are phantoms and spirits who walked here before us. So we celebrate in a big way, dreaming up fun costumes, planning spooky tastings and events, such as our Ghost Winery Tour, and looking for new ways to decorate The Room, The Estate and our own homes. For General Manager Nat Komes and his wife Anne there’s another reason to celebrate: their wedding anniversary falls on October 31st!
Napa Valley Halloween
Of course in Napa Valley the wine you serve on Halloween is nearly, if not just, as important as the candy bowl! It’s the adult version of the “treat,” and that’s why we put so much effort into producing special Halloween-themed wines for our Wine Club and Mailing List Members. These are not your average Halloween wines, made to drink and forget. We set the bar high in terms of quality, using some of the best fruit from our estate property, including Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Because these vineyard blocks are small, they lend themselves perfectly to these limited-edition wines.
Our Halloween labels are also a labor of love. Each year Nat Komes and his team let the creative juices flow as they seek inspiration from album cover art, comic books, children’s book illustrators and other artists to create brand new one-of-a-kind labels and packages. Skeletons, witches, pumpkins and black cats have all found their way onto these labels, in whimsical designs meant to treat, not trick. The only exception is our Ghost Winery Malbec, which always features a hand-drawn etching of our historic stone cellar on a label reminiscent of Flora Springs’ earliest releases.
We’d love to hear about your Halloween traditions and party ideas. If you have a story or tradition to share, email us at email@example.com or check out our We LOVE Halloween Pinterest board where we have collected all types of creative entertaining tips and ideas for a spooky wine tasting party.
There is nothing more gratifying to us than seeing or hearing about someone enjoying one of our wines. Though we’ve been making wine for forty years, we still get a thrill when a Wine Club Member tells us about serving Flora Springs wines at a special occasion or as an accompaniment to a home-cooked meal. It makes everything we do worthwhile.
While our customers’ feedback is our number one priority, we also appreciate it when our wines get noticed by critics and reviewers who write for magazines, newspapers and blogs. Since releasing our 2016 Trilogy in February we’ve been excited to see a chorus of positive reviews, some of which we’d like to share with you.
Accolades for 2016 Trilogy
97 points Creators Syndicate
“This is the flagship wine from the Komes-Garvey family that owns Flora Springs. It was among the first proprietary Bordeaux-style blends produced in the United States and arguably has long been among the best. Yet it remains a bargain, maybe even a steal, at today’s price of less than $100 a bottle. Rivals that came along at about the same time retail at far higher prices. This vintage is cabernet sauvignon dominant, with petit verdot and malbec fleshing out the “trilogy” blend. Beautifully structured and precise, it offers plush, ripe dark fruits, exquisite tannins and hints of mocha and oak vanillin on the finish. A stunning wine at a stunning price (relative to similar blends from the Napa Valley) that can be consumed now or cellared for another 15 to 20 years.”Read more.
—Robert Whitley, June 2019
93 points Blue Lifestyle
“Deep, dark ruby color; smooth, rich and intense with concentrated flavors; ripe plum, spice and subtle hints of herbs and earth; excellent now, but in a few years this will be a knock out.”Read more.
—Anthony Dias Blue, June 2019
Wines For Father’s Day Gifts MoreAboutWine.com “…if dad collects wine or has developed an appreciation for better quality wines, by all means give him that expensive Bordeaux or the cult cabernet sauvignon from California. Give him a wine that he wouldn’t buy because he’d feel guilty spending the money…
This Bordeaux style red blend is crafted from Flora Springs Estate Vineyards. This elegant blend features notes of cassis, cedar and graphite in a delicious mélange of cabernet sauvignon, petite verdot and malbec. For the impatient father who can’t wait for a wine to age.” Read more.
—Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, June 2019
Sip and Grill…Red Wines to Pair with your next Barbeque Grape Experiences
“…Simply stunning is Flora Springs Trilogy Red Wine 2016. Considered Flora Springs’ flagship wine due to the fact that it dates from 1981 when the “family decided to make the finest wine possible by selecting the highest quality wine lots culled” from their estate vineyards. Even today, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot varieties are sourced from their premium Komes-Garvey estate vineyards. Aged for 20 months in French and American oak, each sip was a gift. Aromas of cherry cola, vanilla, dark chocolate and cinnamon toast led to flavors of spice, black pepper, dark red fruit compote, crushed blueberries, raspberry jam and anise. Remember that peppery rib-eye right off the grill? This wine will be the ultimate pairing.”Read more. —Cindy Rynning, June 2019
91 points Boozehoundz
“Most every major Cabernet Sauvignon producer in Napa has their flagship wine and for Flora Springs, it is Trilogy, which first appeared in 1984. Trilogy has an emphasis on New French Oak and if you love that luxurious, smooth, comforting type of wine, this certainly will play well on your table. The fruit comes from Oakville, St. Helena, and Rutherford so though subtle, it offers some of the best grapes from quality growing regions.
The 2016 iteration offers up rich black berry, blueberry, boysenberry and black cherry notes, along with vanilla, white pepper, cinnamon and subtle notes of amber, sugared almonds and black strap molasses, chaparral and cocoa. Trilogy is comprised mainly of Cabernet Sauvignon, with just 8% Petite Verdot and 6% Malbec. Aged 20 months with mostly French Oak it accentuates what many Napa Cabs strive for, a balance on fruit, food and place.” Read more.
—Michael Cervin, April 2019
A Trio of Wines from Flora Springs Pull That Cork
“…dark ruby in the glass with initial aromas of caramel, and earthy dark fruit. Flavors blackberries, blueberries and dusty earth combine with a core of slate-like minerality. Tannins are grippy and well integrated with the flavors in this juicy, medium-bodied red wine.
Once again, the blending skills of winemaker Paul Steinauer are on display in this lively wine. Since 1984, Trilogy has been Flora Springs’ flagship red wine. It is made from the best lots sourced from estate vineyards in St. Helena, Rutherford and Oakville. It is aged for 20 months in 87% French oak and 13% American oak. Braised short ribs and silky mashed potatoes with roasted carrots would be a divine pairing with this lovely red blend. It deserves a meal prepared with as much care as went into the making of this wine
If it is important to you to support family-owned wineries then Flora Springs is a winery to consider. Wines from Flora Springs are widely available if you can’t make it to Napa Valley for a visit.”Read more. April 2019
“I’ve been impressed with each vintage I’ve tried of Trilogy, an excellent, cabernet sauvignon from Flora Springs. The 2015 vintage, which we enjoyed on #CabernetDay, was a bold, yet balanced wine. Today, we’re going to enjoy the 2016 vintage of this flagship wine:
This wine is mostly cabernet sauvignon (86%) blended with small amounts of malbec (6%) and petit verdot (8%). The fruit was grown in St. Helena, Rutherford and Oakville. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for 20 months in a combination of French (87%) and American (13%) oak barrels. It comes in at 14.5% ABV.
The wine showed a dark ruby almost opaque color. Blackberry, cherry, loganberry, raspberry, cassis, dark chocolate and oak all arrived on the complex nose. Blackberry, cherry cola, vanilla, raspberry, cassis, licorice, eucalyptus and oak on a palate that started with dark berry fruit and ended with an herbal finish. The wine exhibited great structure and length, and was quite tannic. This wine would be ideal now for enjoyment with a seared dry-aged ribeye after decanting.”Read more. —The Nittany Epicurean, March 2019
“…this continued to impress. Different than last year, but very impressive. I got notes of black cherry, mocha, cassis, licorice, dark chocolate, vanilla, herbs, spice and elegance. Velvet is a great descriptor for this wine.
The 2016 trilogy is the 32nd release of its flagship wine. Trilogy was first made in 1984 when the family selected the highest quality wine lots from estate vineyards from traditional Bordeaux varietals. The 2016 is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot. Most of the grapes were grown on the Komes family’s ranch which surrounds the Flora Springs Estate in St. Helena (though the vineyard straddles the St. Helena/Rutherford AVAs), though a small portion came from the family’s Crossroads Ranch in the Oakville AVA.”Read more.
—DallasWineChick.com, March 2019
92 points International Wine Report
“The 2016 Trilogy is modern styled, massive red from Flora Springs, composed of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot. It instantly bursts open with aromas of crème de cassis, blueberries, baking spices, cocoa powder, violets, mocha and sweet toasty oak all coming together. Full-bodied and voluptuous with layer upon layer of sweet ripe fruits and sweet spices enveloping the palate as it heads into the long, plush finish. The 2016 will be open for business upon release and should also continue to provide years of drinking pleasure.”Read more.
—J. D’Angelo, March 2019
Maxine Lee of Drink Good, Live Well launches her Monday Wine Q & A with our 2016 Trilogy: “…what I enjoy most about this wine is the black cherry and licorice just really great your nose, preparing you for an exceptional drinking experience…” March 2019
2016 Trilogy Review Wine Weirdos “…the fruit is very high, high, high quality, the oak is pretty…built to age, but California Cab lovers – you can drink it now…”
Top 12 Best Wines Winter 2019 GO – WINE
“This is a full bodied, juicy medium dry, silky wine…We loved the long creamy finish. We recommend it served with grilled rosemary-sprinkled lamb chops or creamy polenta with a sprinkle of Parmesan. We enjoyed it with delicious aged Gouda.”Read more. February 2019
Grade: A, Score: 94 Into Wine “Purple in color. The nose has cassis, cherries and spice. With air some plums come out. On the palate, this has a lovely texture. Lots of juicy black currants, with black raspberries. Firm tannins. Nice balance…It will go well with a lot of medium or heavier foods but certainly steaks and roasts. If opening now, a 3 hour decant is a good idea.” Read more. January 2019
Flora Springs Releases 2016 Trilogy: An Accessible Napa Cab Blend Wine Predator “My first thought of the 2016 vintage is that it is plush and enjoyable right away, which isn’t always the case with a new release of a Napa wine built on cab. While you could lay this wine down for awhile, it is tempting now and it is impressive for any celebration to drink when that occasion arrives. Balanced with fruit on the front of the palate and lingering minerals on the back. A nice roundness throughout the palate with sage and black licorice adding complexity.”Read more. January 2019
91 points “This is a big and rich red with lots of dried-fruit and chocolate character. Full body, velvety tannins and a flavorful finish…Bigger style of Trilogy. A blend of 86 per cent cabernet sauvignon, eight per cent petit verdot and six per cent malbec. Drink or hold.”
—James Suckling, November 2018
In Napa Valley this time of year, you’re likely to see vineyard crews scattered amongst the vines. “What are they doing,” you ask? They are Shoot Thinning and Leaf Pulling.
Shoot thinning and leaf pulling are part of overall vineyard canopy management, as seen here in Sauvignon Blanc vines at our Soliloquy Vineyard. Learn how our Soliloquy Vineyard is entirely unique to Flora Springs and distinct from more common Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in Napa Valley.
Shoot thinning is a process in which any unnecessary shoots are removed—typically those in the lower regions of the vine. Removing select shoots allows the vines’ energy to be directed towards the primary shoots, which will ultimately bear fruit.
Leaf thinning is conducted for a variety of reasons, particularly in wet years like this one when the canopy tends to be vigorous. Too much vigor can lead to vegetative characteristics—which we don’t want! Removing the leaves curtails this issue. Leaf thinning also opens up the canopy, allowing increased air flow and quicker drying in the event of morning dew or rain, and to prevent mildew in humid conditions. This opening of the canopy also increases light penetration—which is needed for photosynthesis. Sunlight exposure improves grape quality, protects the berry, and also elevates the phenols and polyphenols that are responsible for the color, taste, and flavor of the wine.
While this work is being done, the crews are also positioning the shoots. The shoots may be 24”–36” at this point. If we are working in a vineyard that has a vertical trellis system, there will be a series of horizontal wires running from one end of the row to the other. As the vine grows, the shoots will be tucked into the wire trellis to allow for what is commonly referred to as VSP, or vertical shoot positioning. This allows further opening of the canopy. There are other types of trellises, but VSP is the primary system implemented in most Flora Springs vineyard blocks.
After the initial thinning pass, each block will be monitored in the weeks to come to determine when/if additional passes are to be made.
Soliloquy is named for Flora Springs’ proprietary Sauvignon Blanc clone, a singular clone entirely unique to us.
It nearly went extinct when the vines became diseased a couple decades ago, but through various heroic measures we were able to preserve the clone in our Crossroads Vineyard. Recently I decided to re-create Soliloquy, relying on my early memory of the wine to produce what I think could be the finest white wine we’ve ever made.
It was a long process, three years of countless blending trials, but today I’m proud to say that the 2018 Soliloquy has earned its place as Flora Springs’ flagship white wine, a fitting companion to our flagship red, Trilogy. I could not be more excited to introduce this singular white wine. Watch our newest video and learn more about its fascinating history.
Ever wonder how a wine cork is made? Winemaker Paul Steinauer recently traveled to Portugal for a behind-the-scenes look into the cork-making process and the operations of Flora Springs’ cork supplier. Here’s a peek into how corks are made.
First, a cork harvester carefully strips the cork bark from the tree.
Then the cork bark dries out on pallets for several months.
After drying, the cork goes into stainless steel tanks where it is submerged in water to be rinsed, cleaned and re-hydrated.
Then, the tops and bottoms of the outer bark is removed by a stripping machine.
And the bark is cut to the proper width.
After each cork is individually punched out of the bark, it is run through a machine that measures its density, and therefore its ability to contain liquid. If it does not meet a specific density, it is discarded.
Our supplier selects cork lots from only the top-quality manufacturers, and then hauls the lots to their facility to undergo additional quality control. They test for appearance and perform a sensory analysis. The corks are warmed to enhance any odor compounds that may be present. They are looking for Trichloroanisole (TCA), which is better known as cork taint and can damage the wine—as well as any other negative odor compounds. If any negative compounds are detected, the entire lot is returned to the manufacturer.
Random samples from various lots are then placed in these small bottles to undergo a soak test. This test will detect any TCA that may not have been found during smell testing.
Once the lots have passed all quality control requirements, samples from each lot are archived at the supplier’s headquarters. If we ever discover a problem with a number of corks, the supplier can reference the problem corks with samples from the same lot to determine what issues may be present.
A great deal of work goes into the cork-making process, every cork is handled approximately ten times by the time it is approved for use. The “simple” wine cork is an expensive part of the overall wine packaging costs, but necessary to ensure the quality we expect to protect our wines.
Five Fun Facts:
Cork trees are oak trees.
Cork bark is harvested from 35 – 200 year old trees.
For most 750mL closures, the bark is harvested every seven years.
Most premium corks are harvested in Portugal; Spain is the only other significant producer.
All of the corks Flora Springs uses are harvested in Portugal.
Now that you have acquired an older wine, often referred to as a library wine, you might be asking, “How do I open this without making a mess of the cork?”—or—“What’s the best way to serve this wine once opened?”
First, the basics—it’s natural that a cork will soften with age. It’s also natural that a wine may develop some sediment as it ages. Well fear not, with the proper tools and technique, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.
Let’s go through the steps.
1) First, store your bottle in an upright position several days prior to opening, preferably in a cool location. Doing so will allow any suspended sediment to settle at the bottom of the bottle.
2) Next, choose the cork extractor you prefer—here are my recommendations:
Best – The Durand is a two-pronged wine opener—also known as an “Ah-So”—but with a built-in corkscrew. This is not an inexpensive item, but if you open a lot of older wines it could be a nice addition to your cellar.
Good – A standard two-pronged cork puller is also known as an “Ah-So.” Gently insert the longer tip between the glass and the cork, and gently rock back and forth until it is fully inserted in the bottle. Then slowly twist—while pulling up at same time.
Good – A pressurized cork extractor (like Cork Pops) is a device comprised of a needle and a carbon dioxide cartridge. Center the needle in the cork and penetrate it all the way through, then press the cartridge until the cork extracts. Hint: It’s best to cover the neck of bottle with a napkin or paper towel, as sometimes a bit of wine and/or sediment can also be extracted when under pressure.
OK – A corkscrew with a long, grooved shaft will make extracting an older, soft cork easier than using a shorter corkscrew without the grooving. Make sure it is centered directly in the cork, then twist it well into the cork. Be sure to pull up slowly.
If none of these methods work for you, as a last, last resort, find a blunt instrument that is narrower that the cork. Put the bottle in a sink and then place a plastic bag (or something similar) over the bottle neck. Then slowly and carefully push the cork down until it is no longer blocking the neck of the bottle. Hint: You definitely want something covering the opening of the bottle—as the wine will have a tendency to push upwards and out as the cork is pushed down.
3) Now that you have the cork out, you are ready to serve your wine.
Best – Carefully and slowly pour the wine into a decanter. Once you start to see sediment, stop pouring.
OK – If you don’t have a decanter, line up your wine glasses on a counter. Take a glass in one hand, and carefully pour the wine with the other hand. Be sure to keep the neck of the bottle in the same position, and fill the next glass…and so on. Hint: You want to minimize turning the bottle upright as doing so will disturb the sediment that has settled into the bottom of the bottle.
4) Maybe you didn’t have time to let the bottle sit upright for a few days, or perhaps you see pieces of cork floating in the bottle. As a last, last resort, you can pour the wine through a fine screen or coffee filter to a decanter, or even a pitcher. If you don’t want to serve from that vessel, you can always rinse out the wine bottle well, and pour the now-filtered wine back into it.
5) Remember, most older wines only require decanting to ensure that the wine is clear—not to allow the wine to “open up” or “breathe.” Library wines do not need more oxygen at this point.
6) Also, I recommend you serve and drink the wine soon after opening. The older the bottle, the sooner you will want to drink it to retain as much fruit expression as possible.
When John Komes bottled Flora Springs’ first Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – the Rutherford Hillside Reserve in 1989 – it became a benchmark for Napa Valley Cabernet, bringing awareness to the concept of site-specific wines. Since then Flora Springs has enhanced its Single Vineyard Program, and today we offer five elegant and powerful wines that reflect the small vineyard sites and even individual blocks in which they are grown – wines so outstanding they deserve to be bottled on their own.
The idea for “Flora’s Five Cuts and Five Cabs” dinner—which has been one of our most popular events since its inception four years ago—is a nod to John’s early days of selling these Single Vineyard Cabernets. Back then he developed a successful winemaker dinner pairing each Cabernet with a specific cut of premium beef. He found that the words used to describe the texture and tenderness of a steak enhanced the understanding and enjoyment of Cabernet. In true John fashion, he was well ahead of his time, and his innovative concept is still relevant today.
The latest round of emojis has been announced, and a total of 230 new ones will be coming out this year—but #wedidntgetawhitewineemoji (insert the new yawning face emoji).
So we are renewing our call for the establishment of a #whitewineemoji. We think every wine lover deserves the opportunity to fittingly share their #currentstatus while drinking white wine. There’s a rainbow of cocktails – and even two beer options – so why is there only a red wine emoji?
Help us get the word out again by sharing your summer white wine adventure story on Instagram or Facebook and use hashtag #whitewineemoji – you’ll get a chance to win a YETI cooler and Flora Springs swag!
The contest ends May 16, and the winner will be announced on #ChardonnayDay—May 23, so see the contest details and enter to win today.
For both Nat and Anne Komes, art – in its many forms and varieties – plays a central role in their busy lives. “Just as you must have wine on your table, you must have art in your life,” says Anne. “It gives you more perspective and depth, it makes life more beautiful.”
The Komeses both have artistic backgrounds: Nat was an English Literature major in college and once published a book of poetry. Anne, a native of France, is the daughter of a painter and a music agent who represented Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz. She herself is a sculptor who works in clay. The couple often go to museums and galleries with their two children and enjoy collecting artistic works during their travels. They recently brought home a piece from a local artist exhibiting at the Brinton Museum near Big Horn, Wyoming where they were vacationing with their family. “It’s wonderful to have a reminder of the places we’ve been, and Nat and I love to support local talent,” says Anne.
At Flora Springs, Nat flexes his creative muscle by working with an array of artists on special wine labels, including those he develops for his annual Halloween-themed wines. He finds inspiration all around him – from album cover art and children’s books to the skateboarding culture that has fascinated him since he was a teen. “There’s art everywhere once you look for it,” says Nat, whose recent project, Wine Love Stories, (a 2012 Red Blend) features a label straight out of the romance comics genre of the 1940s and 50s.
The wine is one of the featured offerings during Arts in April at The Room in St. Helena, a month-long celebration of the arts with a special installation by Napa-based artist John Bonick. “Each year in conjunction with Arts in April we commission an artist or artists to create original artwork for display on the exterior and interior of The Room,” says Nat. “It’s is our way of bringing wine and art together, celebrating the roles they each play in enhancing the quality of our lives.”
Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in the Napa Valley Register and can be found here.
Arts in April reception with John Bonick at Flora Springs Winery April 12
Flora Springs will hold an artist reception with John Bonick, from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 12, at The Room in St. Helena.
For this year’s Arts in April installation, Bonick has created “Flora’s Garden” – a series of 8 feet by 3 feet tulips of dibond aluminum adorning the exterior façade of The Room in St. Helena.
He has also created a 10-feet tall wine bottle made entirely of grapevine cuttings from Flora Springs’ estate, a signature piece that Bonick originally developed for BottleRock Napa Valley. Several of his paintings, which have been featured in San Francisco’s Andrea Schwartz Gallery and shown in museums in the Bay Area and beyond, will also be on display.
Flora Springs’ “Arts in April Artful Wine Flight,” featuring the 2017 Dashaway Chardonnay, the just-released 2012 Wine Love Stories Napa Valley Red Blend, and 2016 Ghost Winery Malbec, will be served, along with light appetizers.