TIPSY TOURIST: Ashes and Diamonds

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Ashes and Diamonds is Napa Valley’s newest winery. It opened in November 2017, just after the fires.

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Inside and out, Ashes and Diamonds is designed with a mid-20th Century esthetic, kind of like a 1960s living room.

While the hills above their vineyards blazed hot and red, Ashes and Diamonds employees were getting ready to open the tasting room for the first time. When neighboring wineries couldn’t get their grapes crushed and fermented, Ashes and Diamonds offered their tanks. They harvest early so all their equipment was sitting idle.

I knew I liked this place immediately. What spunk. What a sense of community. And what delicious wine. I hate cabernet franc. Or I did until I tasted Ashes and Diamonds’. Now I can say I understand why winemakers like to grow these grapes. This wasn’t harsh and, sorry to say, ashy the way I usually think of cab franc. This was softer, not fruitier, and with each sip I was convinced.

Our tour guide explained that the winery is designed with a mid-20th Century vibe. The wines are made in the style of California wines of the 1960s and 1970s. They aren’t big and brash as Napa wine often is. They are subtle, more like wines from Bordeaux, better with food than on their own.

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Even the wines are said to reflect the tastes of California in mid-Century. I wasn’t drinking wine back then (milk was more my style) but if this is the way they produced Cabernet Franc I get it.

The vibe continues to the geometric structures of the tasting rooms and the cool but comfortable decor inside.

And the name, I had to ask. Where did that come from?

Turns out it had nothing to do with the October fires. The owner likes a movie called Ashes and Diamonds where the main character gets a glimpse of how good life could be. It’s a Polish movie so the ending is sad. But the winery’s owner wanted a happy ending.

I think he got it.

Ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman