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02.02.11

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Phaedra

Phifer Pavitt Wines

By James Knight


What's going on with that cowgirl, there? What's she doing with that lasso? "People ask me all the time," says Suzanne Phifer Pavitt. Her answer, flavored with hints of a Georgia drawl, is that it really depends: cowgirl's either got an eye on keeping her partner close in, or else she's of a mind to rope a new one. Since landing in the first category, Phifer Pavitt and husband Shane have made sure that they made a weekly time slot in their busy lives for each other: a "date night." No, this had nothing to do with the so-titled 2010 movie starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell. But, yes, they did get a bump from that.

Once upon a time, the Phifer Pavitts were enjoying one of their admittedly "more elaborate date nights," in Italy, when they asked, "If we could do whatever we wanted, what dream would we live?" During a subsequent Napa jaunt, they settled that question and closed on a little property just off the Silverado Trail. Naturally, it's not the first time that a couple of high-flying professionals pined to rusticate amid the vines here, where such stories are as unremarkable as the one where two people meet and fall in love, etc. But the Phifer Pavitts are on an enduring honeymoon with their project, have energetically communicated their theme and created a casual space for visitors to kick back and enjoy the one wine they produce: "Date Night."

Graffitied with cowgirl sass, lit with recycled, fence-wire "chandeliers," the brand-new winery's interior is furnished with hay bales. A sometime-working 1946 Farmall tractor ornaments the front of the building, itself largely remade from a recycled redwood barn. The massive plank bar comprises two slices from the trunk of what must have been a granddaddy of a walnut tree.

Plum jelly plays second to blueberry and cream aromas, as "Date Night" Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) opens. Red plum jam, plum skin flavors play the tart, while apricot and assorted stone fruit swim in full-bodied, spicy sangria-like flavors; cocoa warms the margins of the substantive finish. Grown in Pope Valley and made by Ted Osborne of Olabisi, this Cab is their only wine. If you fancy it, get a hold of it.

Phifer Pavitt Wines, 4660 Silverado Trail, Calistoga. Tastings by appointment. 707.942.4787. Phifer Pavitt pour their "Date Night" Cabernet Sauvignon on Feb. 14, 6pm to 9pm, at the Calistoga resort Solage. The special Valentine's Day menu includes oysters and sparkling wine "Napaphrodisiac" options. Solage, 755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga. 866.942.7442.


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