Mumm Napa: a perfect spot for romantic types

Mumm Napa is on the top of my list of Napa Valley sparkling producers and one of the wineries I recommend to visit for out-of-town guests.

To me, Mumm Napa is a romantic place. The winery’s location in the middle of Rutherford vineyards, its understated wooden architecture, a giant 180-year-old oak tree hanging over the terrace, Ansel Adams’s original photo collection, and of course some good bubbles in a glass – all of these create a special ambiance.

Disclaimer: I only happened to visit the winery either off-season or mid-week. I’ve heard that the tasting room can get really busy on summer and early fall weekends. If this is the only time you can visit, I’d recommend coming in the morning and on a Sunday rather than Saturday.

Story

Fermentation room at Mumm Napa

Mumm Napa is the ‘sister’ of the French Champagne producer G.H. Mumm and part of the wine and spirits giant Pernod Ricard. The Napa story started in 1979 when Guy Devaux, G.H. Mumm’s senior winemaker, came to the US to explore opportunities of making an American sparkling. He experimented with grapes from California, Washington, Oregon and New York, and settled on the Napa terroir. The first wine was produced in 1983 and released three years later.

Today Mumm Napa is the second largest sparkling wine producer in Napa Valley, and makes wines using the traditional, or Champenoise, method. It doesn’t own any vineyards and sources grapes from 50 growers in Napa and Sonoma, as well as the 110-acre Devaux Ranch Vineyard in the Carneros AVA, which it manages under a long-term lease. In addition to the classical Champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – Mumm also uses Pinot Gris grapes to ‘add a little spice’, using the words of our winery host, to some of its wines.

Wine

Drinking sparkling at Mumm NapaMy favorite Mumm Napa sparkling is DVX , especially the older vintages. This is the winery’s tête de cuvée – its most prestigious and supposedly the highest quality sparkling. The name DVX was chosen to honor the founding President and winemaker Guy Devaux. Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, it is an elegant, beautifully structured wine with a lot of complexity, which reflects the extended ageing of 6 years.

A fun and unusual wine to try is the red-colored Sparkling Pinot Noir made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. It has a red wine character – aromas of dried raspberries, ashberries, and cherry compote, and soft tannins – and could be an interesting pairing with turkey or red meats.

Visit

One can visit the production facility on one of four scheduled daily tours. No reservations are required for groups smaller than 6 people, though recommended on weekends. I found the tour educational and informative, and also the best value among Napa sparkling producers, at the time of my visit. Our group spent 1.5 hours looking at vines, barrels, huge fermentation and blending tanks, as well as tasting three wines  and asking lots of questions to our knowledgable guide.

Address: 8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford. Open daily 10 am – 6 pm.