The global fashion magazine June 17, 2024 

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Letter from California: wine country

VOLANTE Stanley Moss discovers an exclusive winery amongst the overly commercial scene of Napa

Photographed by the author and Paula Sweet



Napa Valley
Paula Sweet

Above: Napa is too perfect.

In a perpetual search for perfection, the Napa Valley has become perfect, victim to its own destiny. We’re talking California, so everything is big. Big vineyards, big production, big alcohol content, big packaging, big prices, big architecture, a big promotion-heavy destination. While intentions are good, an insincere and overdone presentation is often the impression it gives, the Disney Effect. Imperfection has ceased to exist in the high-profile players. The wineries are immaculate, their sales machines are wise, and their prices stratospheric. They have tastefully succumbed to drive-up culture, catering to aficionados who seek heady potions, some at a strength of 17 per cent. The Napa you encounter on the highways is McWine Country. The small growers remain in hiding.

Thus we were gratified to discover Scalon Cellars, a limited-production winery working in the artisan method, releasing fewer than 1,000 cases a year. They produce refined award-winning California wines from an impeccably manicured postage stamp-sized vineyard on a fertile hillside which overlooks the valley. Rendered in the French style, the exceptional wines have developed a secretive and loyal following. A commitment to the brand requires a minimum six bottles received twice a year, obtained directly from the winery through what is labelled an allocation. Scalon’s output won’t be found in retail stores, not even within the Napa city limits. You might call the winemakers discreet entrepreneurial connoisseurs. They are fanatical to the point of having their barrels made exclusively of hand-chosen French oak. The Andalusian horse on the brand signature brings to mind da Vinci’s sketches for a huge bronze statue intended for the Duke of Sforza. At the minimalist five-acre vineyard visitors encounter an Airstream trailer which is very active during the summer and fall as an on-site tasting room. Year-round you can visit a new facility in town, which looks out upon a restful landscape and the meandering Napa River. •



Above: Owner Tim Goodwin and Paula Sweet, at the vineyard which overlooks the Napa Valley. Once upon a time the Airstream trailer parked on-site served as Scalon’s tasting room. Now a spacious and comfortable downtown Napa location welcomes wine lovers by appointment only.

Above: Scalon has their own on-site cooperage. French oak only!

Suzanne Becker Bronk

Above, from top: A bottle of the outstanding Priority 2017 vintage is priced at a juicy, extroverted US$75. A vintage water tower presides over the tasting room. The tasting room overlooks the Napa River with the southern edge of Napa Valley visible in the distance.


Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.





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