I first visited this winery on a late September afternoon on a busy Saturday during harvest and crush season. You can imagine what a zoo that was! The winery was overrun and super unpleasant. I had to check in with a front desk concierge and wait my turn for a tasting at the bar. The frowny-faced employees were frazzled, rushed and quite unfriendly.
Matt was so completely turned off by the place that he couldn’t enjoy the wines. Luckily I fell in love with the wines and signed up for their wine club on the spot because most of their wines are only available at the winery. Since I live out of state I like the idea of getting special wine selections shipped to me a few times a year. Matt thought I was crazy to sign up as a club member because of the surly, impersonalized service we received.
Fast forward to February 2016. We were back in the Napa Valley and decided to stop by again. What a remarkable difference! First of all, this visit was in the low season during the week. I was literally the ONLY person in the tasting room! Talk about VIP service. Chris was my wine host and he was absolutely delightful. When I asked if I could taste the wines that were sent in my most recent club shipment, he immediately went to get the two bottles and opened them for me right on the spot! How’s THAT for service?
Chris also told me to be sure to stop back by on the weekend because that’s when the members-only dining patio is open. Say what now? Of course I had to ask what the heck that was and he told me that there are special tables where club members can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a wine tasting on an outdoor patio overlooking the vineyard! Wow! To me, the fact that I can picnic on the gorgeous HALL grounds is reason enough to join their wine club.
So we rolled back in on Saturday around noon. It was much more crowded but nothing like our visit in the fall. We were warmly greeted and treated like rock stars. Lana at the front reception desk was a joy and delight, and Chris was working outside that day and welcomed me back. I counted over a dozen different bottles of wine open for tasting, and visitors were welcome to get a taste and take a stroll around outdoors. Wine club members must check in at the concierge desk to be escorted to the special patio tastings, so don’t even think about sneaking in to enjoy a picnic if you aren’t a member — you’ll just embarrass yourself.
The grounds are nothing short of spectacular. These are actual pictures of what the place looks like with no filters. It’s show stopping. There’s an amazing collection of modern art (my favorite) both inside and out. The building itself is sleek, stellar and environmentally friendly. I think people are in two divisive camps over the grounds here — you either love it or you are turned off by it because it’s so “rich” and expensive looking. I love the atmosphere but Matt is in the latter camp. His opinion is that if all that money is spent on the flashy look, then the winery most likely favors style over substance. I’m slowly converting him and even he enjoyed this latest visit (and fell in love with a couple of their wines).
Let’s not forget the prime reason HALL is so great — their wines are truly fantastic. This is a big, bold red drinker’s paradise. I am a fan of huge cabernets and HALL delivers. I’m not in love with their entire portfolio but everything is of a very high quality (remarkable for most wineries in the area). The price points match too, so don’t expect to find a lot of $30 bottles here. Most everything is in the $60 and up price range, and I’ve only found a few of their wines to be overpriced.
My suggestion for visiting is to get here either early or late in the day and avoid the weekends and busy times of the year. The parking lot here is huge so if you pull in and there’s not a lot of empty spots, leave and try again some other time. You’ll have a much more pleasant visit. When you arrive, go in the main building and stop at the reception desk. This place is huge and can be extremely overwhelming so that’s the best place to start.
Tastings for non-members are $35 per person but they have no problem if you want to share one tasting (something we often do). HALL also offers $1 shipping if you buy 6 bottles or more. They’ll let you mix and match too, making this a great way to get wine home without having to worry with checking it in your wine luggage on the plane.
If you love big Cabernet Sauvignons, HALL needs to go on your must-visit list. I am so in love with this winery!