Just ten minutes from The Inn On First, a luxury Bed and Breakfast in Napa, is a winery called Aonair. Well, actually, it is the tasting room built out of an old stable that overlooks acres of vineyards in the southern hills of Napa. We were introduced to Aonair by Grant Long, Sr., one of our favorite characters here in Napa Valley. I say character because he has plenty of it and it shows in his demeanor and expression, always making you feel that you are the most important person in the room. Long ago he made an investment into grapes and hillside wineries and eventually brought his son, Grant Long, Jr., into the business, and it is Grant, Jr. who is making wine, and Grant, Jr., who is usually doing the pouring for you.
When I say it is small, even the name “Aonair” gives it away, meaning “One Man” in Gaelic. Driving back through the estates hidden in the hills you enter the security gate, drive up the long driveway, park, walk to the tasting room and then turn and behold the view. Just perfect.
He only uses Napa mountain fruit for his reds, which means bright fruit flavors with robust character. We tried his Merlot (taste of raspberries with a light earthy tone), Cabernet Sauvignon (soft and subtle on the nose with blackberry and cherry notes, using whole berry fermentation), and Bordeaux Blend (big, bright fruit flavors). All were delicious.
He also had a White Wine Blend (Sauvignon Blanc Clone-Semillon-Muscat) which we enjoyed as well as a Grenache, with fruit harvested out of the Sierra foothills from one of the oldest vineyards in California. You can purchase a few bottles while you are there but to be guaranteed this wine for the future will require signing up for wine allocations (which we did, we liked it that much). Wines generally range from $35 to $85 per bottle.