Swanson Vineyards: not a tasting room but a salon.

Swanson is a small family owned winery in Napa Valley that has a most unusual set-up.  The tasting salon sits in the middle of vineyards they do not own (their vineyards are behind Brix Restaurant), and the decor in the salon is really unique.  Painted in bold colors, with large whimsical portraits of people and grapes and wine, it is bright and cheery as you enter the room and find yourself greeted by Cidy or Sean who immediately invite you to sip a little Pinot Grigio and stand by the open fire.  Since it was a cool Napa day it was a wonderful greeting.  This was a hospitality event to introduce us to their salon and how they do tastings, and Cidy took responsibility for each person at the door to invite them to enjoy the food that was being paired with the wine.  The Pinot Grigio with deviled eggs and caviar (my mouth still waters) and the salmon crostini with a housemade ricotta-like cheese, the Merlot was paired with pork sandwiches as well as cheese and crackers, and finally the Alexis (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon) blend with homemade chocolate truffles dusted with curry powder.  They all worked beautifully.  Alexis Swanson works closely with the chef to create this pairing and it creates a great time for everyone.  Normally guests will sit at the tasting table (only 10-12 allowed per session) and will enjoy about 90 minutes of tasting wine and eating food and receiving a great education on wine and food pairing.  They only do a few sessions per day and to make reservations you need to call weeks in advance, especially during the summer.  Although we haven’t done the tasting experience…yet!…we were really impressed by what we saw and experienced.  Other guests have gone throughout the past year and have really enjoyed their time at the salon.  The cost is $30-$55, depending on the number of wines and foods you pair with during your tasting.  For a small boutique winery, this really works well for guests to have a different kind of experience in Napa.

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