After a few days in Napa, I was used to windy mountain roads. Just glad there was no snow. We circled our way up Spring Mountain to Pride Mountain Vineyards.
I was immediately struck by the beauty of the hilly vineyards and the welcoming building. We were greeted by the friendly employee who led our tour, Nikki. We quickly learned Nikki was also from NJ and a fellow Rutgers University alum. She even briefly broke out into our alma mater’s fight song (impressive that she remembered it).
From just that glimpse into her personality, we could tell this would be a great tour, and we were not disappointed. Our tour consisted of a group of eight people (including us). Nikki wished us all happy International Women’s Day (this was March 7th) and stated that the Pride winemaker is a woman, which she noted is significant because only about 20% of the winemakers in the area are women.
Nikki hopes to add herself to that list one day, making wine under the label of her own name. She quickly poured everyone a taste of Chardonnay, and as we sipped, she shared the history of the winery. She instructed us to take our glasses as we moved along on tour. We walked outside and stood by a brick-lined, well, line (see photo below). These vineyards span both Sonoma and Napa counties, and the line divides the vineyard into two counties.
We then walked into their caves where a station of wine awaited us. We tasted the merlot and then moved on to a Cabernet Sauvignon straight from the barrel. We then tasted and contrasted another Cabernet that spent more time on the skins (greater maceration time). Nikki then suggested we blend the two Cabernets together to give us a small sense of what the winemaker does.
I really liked our “blend” but for sure the winemaker’s blend – the finished product of Cab – was the best taste. Tasting and contrasting some of the components as well as a blend before tasting the final product was truly educational.
We went outside next to take in the view and Nikki offered to take photos for the couples. The last stop before returning to the main winery building was at the tank room, where we tasted some Cabernet Franc right from the tank.
Finally, back at the winery, we sampled a dessert wine. We were informed of picnic tables up on the hill and headed there to enjoy our lunch. I often have ideas of how tours/tastings could be done differently, but this one struck just the right note.
Principles of social proof and liking are at play here. We are more likely to make purchases from others who are likable, polite, kind, and knowledgeable, and with whom we have some commonality. Nikki evidenced all of those things right down to our shared alma mater. I’ll be happy to look for her wine in a few years.