Flora Springs Named “Best Hidden Gem Winery” by Napa Valley Life Magazine

February 24, 2022

Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in Napa Valley Life Magazine and can be found here.

Flora Springs Tasting Room - Rooftop Lounge

“Each year, Napa Valley Life pauses to recognize and celebrate the area’s bounties by asking our readers to weigh in on their favorite places to eat, drink, shop, and play, and we have the privilege to present them in our annual Best of Napa Valley-Readers Choice Awards. Well, folks, the results are in! After calculating thousands of votes and write-in entries, we are pleased to share and congratulate this year’s winners in each polling category.

We hope you enjoy reading the results and take the time to congratulate the ones you know and make a point to discover the ones you don’t.”

Flora Springs Named “Best Hidden Gem Winery” in Napa Valley Life Magazine’s 2022 Best of Napa Valley Awards Readers Choice

“Founded in 1978 by John and Julie Komes and named after their free-spirited mother, Flora, Flora Springs history dates back to the late 1800s when grapes were first planted on the estate. Lauded as one of Napa Valley’s local hidden gems, the St. Helena winery and tasting room offer visitors a relaxing respite to learn some of Napa’s unique history and experience some of the region’s top-rated Cabernet, Chardonnay, single varietal, and Bordeaux blends, including their award-winning Trilogy.”

Flora Springs Tasting Room - Vineayrd CourtyardVisit Our Tasting Room in St. Helena

We welcome you to Napa Valley for wine tasting while enjoying views of flourishing vineyards and the western hillsides. Wine tastings are currently by reservation only. Space fills quickly, make your reservations today.

Flora Springs Named One of 9 Places to Taste Excellent Napa Valley Chardonnay

April 1, 2021

Note: The article excerpted below was originally published on NapaValley.com and can be found here.

Chardonnay Wine Tasting

“While officially founded in 1978, grapes were first planted on this St. Helena property, located at the foot of the Mayacamas, in the late 1800s, which marked the start of Flora Springs’ fascinating history. The winery produces several different chardonnays, each with a unique flavor profile, from the juicy and tropical Family Select Chardonnay to the limited-production Flora’s Legacy Chardonnay, made from a barrel selection of the finest chardonnay of the vintage, in honor of Flora Komes, the inspiration for the winery.

Insider Tip: Flora Springs feels so strongly about the quality of their chardonnay and other white wines that the winery has been a leading proponent of the movement to introduce the #whitewineemoji.” Read more.

Plan Your Napa Valley Wine Tasting

We invite you to our Napa Valley Tasting Room for wine tasting while enjoying views of flourishing vineyards and the western hillsides. Plan your getaway.

A Tasting Room for the Senses

January 28, 2021

by John Komes

It was the early 1990s and Flora Springs had been in business for just over ten years when I decided we needed to have a tasting room on Highway 29.

There wasn’t quite as much tourism in Napa Valley as there is now, and I wanted a place right on the highway where people could easily visit us. I bought a building – an old HVAC shop – just south of the old Dean & DeLuca gourmet grocery (now Gary’s Wine & Marketplace) in St. Helena. I cleaned it up, installed a circular bar, hired an artist to paint some wall murals, and opened up for tastings.

But business was slow. I kept hearing folks say they hadn’t “noticed” the tasting room, even people who stopped at Dean & DeLuca. I decided to do something about it. My wife, Carrie, and I had recently visited Barcelona and seen many of the buildings designed by renowned architect, Antoni Gaudí. I loved the flow and imagination of his structures, the fanciful nature of his designs.

You can guess what happened next.

Wine Tasting in St Helena
Wine Tasting Napa

When I returned to St. Helena I consulted with a local architect, and together we designed a new Tasting Room that echoes, in Gaudí-like fashion, the look and feel of a wine cave set into a mountainside. We used bent plywood to give the structure its curvature and painted the outside to represent geologic striations in the earth.

Inside we created separate tasting areas made to feel like private rooms in a wine cave, and installed a curved tasting bar with a modern bistro vibe. The rooftop, which has magnificent views of mountains and vineyards to the west, feels like a comfortable living room, a place where people can relax and enjoy a glass of wine.

Wine Tasting in Saint Helena

Wine Tasting in Napa

Wine Tasting in Saint Helena

Thanks to my son Nat, our Tasting Room has gotten some upgrades recently, and I’m excited about the improvements. I always wanted it to be a place where people could indulge their sense of sight as well as taste and smell. Most of all, I want the Tasting Room to inspire curiosity and delight, to be the place where people come to learn more about the legacy of Flora Springs.

Now we are thrilled to be reopening for outdoor wine tasting, by appointment. Plan your Napa Valley wine tasting adventure today.

 

Flora Springs Tasting Room
677 S. Saint Helena Highway
Saint Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-8032

Reasons to be Grateful in 2020

December 23, 2020

Despite its many challenges, 2020 also offered new ways of interacting with you, a few “firsts,” and many reasons to be grateful. Here are just a few:

Our family presented leis to the first 100 guests at our 2017 Trilogy Party.
Trilogy Release Party

We found new ways to connect with you through virtual tastings and curbside pickups.St Helena Tasting Room

We were named “Best Hidden Gem Winery” in Napa Valley Life Magazine.Outdoor Wine Tasting in St Helena

We released the 2017 Howell Mountain Dust & Glory Cabernet Sauvignon—our first new Single Vineyard Cabernet in over two decades, with a 94 point score from James Suckling.Single Vineyard Cabernet

We celebrated John Komes’ 80th birthday.John Komes

We released our first wine in cans, the 2019 Honest Bucker Pinot Grigio from sister brand Bodacious Wines.Wine in Cans

We shipped a record amount of wine to Wine Club Members and customers; thank you for your support!

@livegoodwithmax

 

 

We completed our 42nd harvest.Napa Valley Harvest

We supported Napa Valley wildfire relief efforts with a Halloween Dinner & Wine event and other initiatives, and thanks to you, donated over $5,500 to the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s Fire Disaster Relief Fund.

@DowntownDani

 

 

 

Maximilian Riedel, 11th generation glassmaker at the world-renowned Riedel Wine Glass Company, shared his experience of opening and tasting our 1991 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with his 88,000 Instagram followers: “..what a joy. The wine has been in my cellar for a very long time…look at that color, fun. Cheers!”

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Maximilian Riedel (@maxiriedel)

As another year comes to a close, we want to take a moment and thank you for letting us be a part of your lives. We are fortunate and grateful that you choose Flora Springs to accompany your meals, toasts, celebrations and special occasions. Here’s to a healthy, happy 2021!

John & Nat Komes Featured in Napa Valley Register

October 2, 2020

Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in the Napa Valley Register and can be found here.

John & Nat Komes

‘I’ll tell you a story,” John Komes said. He was standing in front of a colorful painting that depicts Flora Springs Winery, which he and his family launched in 1978 in a pre-Prohibition ghost winery in St. Helena.

“We decided we wanted a painting,” he said, recounting how the family invited Cynthia Fitting, an artist living in Sacramento, to come to Flora Springs to talk about a project.

“When she was leaving, her car wouldn’t start.” Fitting flagged down an employee, just leaving the winery, to ask for a jump. Too busy, the man replied, and he hurried off to a sales meeting.

Fitting got the commission and produced the vivid, charming painting, which portrays the winery and its people…”Read more.

Rutherford Dust Society: Day in the Dust Tasting

July 19, 2019

The Rutherford AVA produces some of the most critically-acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons in Napa Valley, and each year, the Rutherford Dust Society (RDS), of which Flora Springs is a member, holds an exclusive tasting it calls “Day in the Dust.”

Normally open only to trade and media, the tasting this year will be open for the first time to consumers in celebration of RDS’s 25th Anniversary. On top of that, it will be held at the prestigious and beautiful St. Francis Yacht Club!

The tasting will feature new-release Cabernet Sauvignons from incredible Rutherford producers, including our own Winemaker Paul Steinauer who will pour our 2016 Rutherford Hillside Reserve. There will also be light snacks, a fun photo booth, and the best view of the Bay from the St. Francis Yacht Club. Attendance is limited to 200 people, so get your tickets today.

Learn more and purchase tickets.

Flora Springs’ Ghost Winery Featured in San Francisco Chronicle

October 30, 2018

Note: The following article was originally written by Chris Macias and published in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 30, 2018 and can be found here.

The Napa Ghost Wineries You Can Visit

Napa Valley Ghost Winery

Trek around Wine Country, near its luxury hotels and fine-dining destinations, and you’ll find the remnants of wineries that date back to a time when Napa wasn’t so flush. These are vestiges of the Dark Ages for California wine. They’re known as ghost wineries, not because they’re haunted (though that’s up for debate in some cases), but because they serve as an important link between Napa’s early years as a wine region and the bustling destination it is now.

Napa Valley had a thriving wine industry in the 19th century, with more than 140 operating wineries opened by the final decade. But starting in the late 1880s, the region was hit with a triple blow that left the local wine industry reeling for decades. First, an outbreak of the lethal grapevine virus phylloxera crippled wine production for 20 years. Then the Great Depression arrived, which dovetailed with Prohibition from 1920 to 1933.

This half-century of setbacks left many California wineries in ruins. Although a few were able to stay in business by selling sacramental wine or grapes for home winemaking, the industry had withered to about three dozen by the time Prohibition was repealed. Many of the buildings remained vacant for decades, falling into ruin. Halloween notwithstanding, Napa’s ghost wineries are worth visiting any time of year. They’re scattered throughout the valley, offering a peek into a storied history and a spirit of perseverance that defines the area.

Here are a handful of the ghosts you can visit:

Flora Springs: This former home of the 1900 Rennie Brothers Winery in St. Helena, suffered a one-two punch at the turn of the 20th century. Not only were its vineyards hit by phylloxera, but a fire in its wine cellar decimated its production capabilities. After decades of inactivity, the property was purchased in the mid 1970s and renamed Flora Springs. The ghost winery has since been renovated and serves as a production facility, which visitors can see during tours of the Flora Springs estate. Flora Springs plays up its ghost winery heritage with Halloween releases including All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc and Ghost Winery Malbec…

Read the full article.


Learn more about our Ghost Winery and our Halloween Wines.

Flora Springs: 40 years of stories in the Napa Valley, The Napa Valley Register

May 12, 2017

Note: The following article about Flora Springs Winery 40th Anniversary was written by Sasha Paulsen and published in The Napa Valley Register can also be found here.

Say “Flora Springs Winery,” and many people will think of the distinctive tasting room on Highway 29, just south of St. Helena, the one inspired by the imaginative Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí that looks a bit like a soft-swirl ice cream cone, chocolate and vanilla.

But there’s a story behind the unusual tasting room — about a mile behind it, at the end of West Zinfandel lane in a stone ghost winery that is, literally, the roots of Flora Springs, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, as well as the 30th anniversary of its celebrated red wine, Trilogy.

Travel down this road to taste a few wines. And if you chance to meet John Komes, proprietor, you will hear stories about everything from how each wine in the Flora Springs portfolio got its name to why there is a statue of a wild boar greeting visitors on the grounds.

“Some people say I saved this property,” Komes remarked with chuckle as he surveyed the vineyards in front of the winery. “My dad was a gin drinker. If we’d left it to him, he’d have replanted everything in juniper.”

That was in 1977 when his parents, Jerome and Flora Komes, were looking for a place to retire after Jerome’s long, successful career with Bechtel Corporation. “He wasn’t that interested in wine,” Komes said. “A lot of his friends were retiring up here, just for the climate and the life. I think he thought he’d be a gentleman farmer.”

It’s well documented what happens to people who purchase land in Napa Valley, intending to retire. It this case, however, it was son John Komes who inspired — and took the lead on turning his dad into a vintner.

This was because just a few years earlier, John Komes’ wife, Carrie, had signed them up for a wine appreciation class. “I said ‘OK, I’ll do my social duty and go with you.’” They were living in Lafayette at the time, where John was a building contractor. He was in for a surprise.

“I loved the stuff. I’d never really tasted wine,” he said. “I was the kind of guy who went three times to the buffet and said that’s dinner. But I loved this. We tasted Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italian wines.”

Then came the real coup de foudre. He said, “A couple of people in the class said, ‘Wow, you are really enthusiastic. Would you be interested in joining our home-winemakers’ group?’”

He joined. “We really had fun making the wine. And it served a good purpose: I gave it to family and friends, and they never bothered me again.”

But when John Komes saw the property his father was going to buy, he decided they had to take it back to its original purpose — a winery.

The stone winery on the grounds had been built in 1885 by two brothers, James and William Rennie, immigrants from Scotland. “They were in the building trade too,” Komes said. “They built the winery and planted 60 acres of grapes.”

Then the brothers hit a patch of bad luck: phylloxera in the vines, and a fire in 1900 destroyed their wine press and cooperage. In 1904, they sold the winery, and 15 years later it was hit by an even greater calamity: Prohibition. The winery was closed until 1933. That year, Louis Martini, one of the valley’s wine-making legends, sensed the approaching collapse of the government’s experiment in teetotalism and bought the Rennie property. He built a new stone house, and made a reserve wine from the hillside vineyards but the old winery remained a ghost until the Komes bought the property, 325 acres, an old farm house, the newer stone house, and 60 acres of vineyards.

Komes said he originally thought he’d persuade his dad to restore the old winery by proposing to name it Chateau Jerome; but although it had been designed by Hamden McIntyre, the architect of other classic 19th-century Napa wineries, by 1977, the fire-scarred ghost was in all but a wreck. “The tin roof of the building had a million holes in it,” Komes said; “so many we called it the starlight roof. My dad looked at it and said, ‘ I’ve worked all my life for my good name. I don’t want to squander it now.’”

John’s mother, Flora, however, sided with her son on the potential of the property. And Carrie Komes suggested they could name the winery for her mother-in-law. Combined with the abundant springs on the land, they decided the name would be Flora Springs.

“That was the sure way to my mom’s heart and my dad’s pocketbook,” Komes said. Flora Komes, born and raised in Hawaii, had come to San Francisco during the Depression to study nursing at St. Mary’s College. There, she met Jerome. “He was a Fresno boy,” Komes said. “My dad was a tough old German. My mom was perfect, a great lady. My dad traveled a lot for his work, so she was the one who really raised us. We were a really happy family.”

Komes put his construction expertise to work to renovate the old winery, which still had scorch marks on the walls. So skeptical was his father about his son’s wine-making project, they divided the winery building and John rented half where he put his first fermenting tank, which he named R2D2.

He invited a couple of friends from his wine-making class to help make wine at the new place. He also hired MaryAnn Graf, who in 1965 had been the first woman to graduate from the viticulture and enology department at UC Davis to help manage the project. “She told me, John, if you don’t hire a winemaker, I’ll quit.” He did, and the 1979 Flora Springs chardonnay won a gold medal at the Los Angeles County Fair.

“In those days, it was fairs, not ratings, that made the difference,” Komes said. “This was my first lesson in marketing. We’d sold the wine before we won the medal.”

Their 1981 cab they submitted to eight fairs and won seven gold medals.

From there, the winery just kept growing. “We were the 67th winery in the county,” Komes said. “My sister, Julie, was a big part of building the winery. Later she left to go religious school, but I like to say she’s still in the spirits business.”

Julie Komes Garvey earned a degree in spiritual studies from the San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Franciscan School of Theology and now works in St. Helena. Her husband, Pat Garvey, and son, Sean, are the vineyard managers for the Flora Springs vineyards.

“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Komes said. “But we kept growing. We started small, but kept moving ahead. We were pretty much self-schooled.”

One highlight was the creation of Trilogy, one of the first meritage blends in the valley. By 1984, Komes said, they’d planted the Bordeaux varietals, malbec, merlot, cab franc, cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot. They wanted to create a blend “by taste, not by formula for a nice smooth wine that goes deep into the palate.” he said. “We want a little of this, a little of that. What God forgot, we added.”

The first Trilogy was cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cab franc was soon dubbed “velvet in the mouth. A lot of what we do is ‘taming the tanins,’ Komes said. ‘One man who buys Trilogy by the case said it’s the only red wine his wife will drink young.” From the “leftovers,” they began making single-varietal estate wines.

Another highlight was the discovery of a unique clone of sauvignon blanc in vineyards his dad bought in Oakville. UC Davis could identify nothing like in in their vast library of clones. “We were a bit ahead of the times, but this clone showed us what sauvignon blanc could be. It takes all the grassiness out of sauvignon blanc.”

It took eight years to register and then propagate the clone, an effort Komes said was well worth it. “We paid UC Davis $7,000-$8,000 to keep the clone so we are the only ones that have it.” They named the clone — and the wine it creates — Soliloquy “because of its uniqueness.”

“We’ve gone through some difficult stages, too,” Komes said. In the 2000s, they spent three years cleaning up a brettanomyces taint in the winery, which rigorous cleaning and replacing all of their barrels. “But we got through it,” Komes said, “Our winemaker, Paul Steinauer, is producing great wines. I think you’ll be amazed by them.”

John and Carrie also lost a son to cancer, but their other son, Nat, is increasingly taking a leadership role in the winery, and they are spending winters at their second home in Arizona.

Today, the Flora Springs portfolio is as rich as its history, and the labels tell its stories: The Rennie Reserve Cabernet, the Holy Smoke Cabernet (named for exclamations of Carrie Komes’ German father as he inspected the Flora Springs vineyards) and the Ghost Winery malbec. The expansive list includes luscious bargains like a $40 estate cabernet sauvignon and as $25 estate sauvignon blanc. Library wines are being made available for this 40th anniversary celebration.

Flora Komes died just three months short of her 101st birthday; her husband had died 10 years earlier. “We had a great 100th birthday party for her and she shook everyone’s hands,” Komes said. Flora’s legacy lives on, not only name of a winery and the larger-than-life-size portrait in the tasting room of Flora arriving from Hawaii at the age of 23, but in her own label, the Flora’s Legacy wines.

There are, in all, too many wines for one article to describe, although this writer attempted to taste as many as possible and thoroughly enjoyed them all. The best way to discover them is to make an appointment, and drive down Zinfandel Lane and into Napa Valley’s history. You’ll meet the wild boar statue, and just in case John Komes is not on hand to tell you the story, here it is:

“My dad was a great businessman, and when he came to the valley, land was selling for as much as $25,000 an acre. He thought that was shocking, so he decided when he was going to buy land in Pope Valley. He found 500 acres for sale that had 10 acres of grapes. He bought it for $1,000 an acre.

“Then he called me up. ‘John,’ he said, ‘I found an old house on the property I didn’t know it was there.’” A strange house, it had nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms and no living room. “And there were a lot strange tales about that house.”

“I asked him, ‘What do you want me to do?’ He said, ‘I want you to come over and build a living room so I can sell it.’”

So Komes built the living room and sent a plasterer to finish the project. “Then I get a call from him, ‘John, John, there’s a wild boar in the yard.’”

The upshot was the plasterer wanted Kome’s permission to shoot it. “I said I was a city boy; I didn’t know about wild animals, but then I said, ‘OK, as long as I can have the hind quarter.’ So the guy left to go get his gun, and then I got a call from the ranch foreman. ‘John,’ he said, ‘you won’t believe what’s going on here. Your workman just shot the neighbor’s pig.’

“So now we have the statue here so everyone knows what a wild boar looks like.”

And the wild boar has a wine label too. Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon.

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