When Ernie Weir bottled the first Hagafen Cellars vintage in 1979, he never speculated that foreign dignitaries and heads of state would soon be making toasts with his wines. Since Reagan's first term however, Hagafen's wines have been served at White House dinners countless times, the menus of which now adorn the walls of the winery's intimate tasting room. When such reverence is coupled with a Cabernet Sauvignon, which Wine Spectator has called, "one of the top fifteen Cabernets produced in this country," it's difficult to remain unpretentious, but the winery does exactly that.
Hagafen Cellars produces a uniquely diverse selection of prized varietals while remaining a best- kept secret, with little fanfare and reasonable prices. Ernie's primary focus is to bottle small-lot wines in the "Old Napa" fashion. He avoids twenty-first century gimmicks, preferring to respect the lineage of the vineyards and employ time-honored wine-crafting methods. Hagafen also takes great pride in its environmentally friendly viticulture practices.
Hagafen Cellars wasn't a destination for wine tourers until 2002, when the tasting room was established. Production has evolved from 300 bottles in 1980 to an annual 8,000 cases, with 21 Napa Valley acres presently under cultivation by the Weir family. The breadth of this production allows Hagafen to bottle small quantities of many different varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel, White Riesling, and even three Brut Cuvée Sparkling wines. On top of that, all of the releases are kosher, dispelling any possible myth that the kosher process ruins wine.
Hagafen Cellars is an ideal winery for tasting several artisanal wines from one producer. The tasting room is small but cozy, and very reserved with the exception of a few bragging rights on the wall. The staff is accommodating, knowledgeable, and unassuming. Guests are even welcome to bring their dogs. The down-to-earth nature of Hagafen Cellars is a testament to its underlying passion for pouring wonderful wines.
What to Buy:
'05; PRIX Napa Valley M é lange Reserve Red Indulgent blend of oak, vanilla, dark fruits $75
'07; Napa Valley Oak Knoll District Chardonnay Apple, apricot, lemon, hint of oak $24
'07; Napa Valley Pinot Noir Soft, silky, spicy. Dark berries. Coffee and cocoa finish $32
'08; Lake County White Riesling Devoto Vineyards Sweet fusion of peach, apricot, and papaya $18
888.424.2336; Fax: 707.252.4562
4160 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
From the town of Napa, take Hwy 29N into Oak Knoll. Turn right on Oak Knoll Ave. At the dead end, turn right onto Silverado Trail. Winery is on the left.