Melanie Hoffman

I recently joined my friends, Nick Briggs and his fiancé Kelly Hash, for an open house at von Strasser Winery in Calistoga. Nick is in charge of day to day wine making practices at Venge Vineyards and is a very good friend of mine. He was invited to the open house and was kind enough to extend the invitation to me.

von Strasser was a delight and a hidden surprise. Nestled in the hills on Diamond Mountain Road, I would have never known it was there. I’m very glad to have found this winery and its robust wines.

von Strasser is very fond of Petit Verdot, and I can’t blame them. The inky and delicious wine is the perfect blending variety for their well rounded Cabernet Sauvignons and Bordeaux style blends. At this open house we were offered several barrel samples. von Strasser sells the majority of their wine as futures.

The winery is located at 1510 Diamond Mountain Road in Calistoga. The building that houses the winery is a historic barn that was built in the late 1880s. Through careful planning it has been remodeled into a modern winemaking facility, while retaining its working-ranch charm. To take full advantage of the hillside location and to better control the variables of winemaking, the von Strassers added caves to their property. Dug into the virgin hills, these caves retain an ideal climate for barrel aging, and average temperature of 55 degrees with an average humidity of 80%.

The von Strasser family has linage that links to Eric de Rothschild. With a wine family history rich with traditions from the Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, you can imagine the intensity of the wines. In true Bordeaux style the wine blends include all five Bordeaux varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

von Strasser Winery, 2006 Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon, 6-pk $300.00 ~ Bouquet opens with ripe raspberries, and hints of sweet oak. Lingering aromas of vanilla bean and milk chocolate lead to scents of jammy blackberries. Flavors open with cranberry, cedar and a whisper of peppermint. Added notes of toasty oak and fresh cracked pepper develop mid-palate. This well structured wine has firm tannins and a long raspberry finish.

Pair with braised short ribs on a bead of creamy sweet potato mashers.

von Strasser Winery, 2006 Post Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 6-pk $450.00 ~ Aromas of mullberry preserves opens this Cabernet Sauvignon. The bouquet envelopes your senses with spicy chicoree and tobacco. The nose is rounded out with notes of pink peppercorns and toasty oak. Velvety palate displays red fruits; strawberry, raspberry, cherry. Additional flavors of pure dark cocoa and vanilla are present in the deliciously long finish.

The perfect wine to pair with grilled tri-tip bites and blue cheese on toasted costini.

von Strasser, 2006 Sori Bricco, 6-pk $420.00 ~ Thick jammy nose of intoxicating blueberry aromas. White pepper follows the jamminess with a heady, spicy finish to the bouquet. A real teeth stainer, in the best way! Rich palate, super delicious. Palate follows nose with more blueberry jam and mint flavors. Black currants and lavender round out the full bodied mouthfeel of this wine. Dusty tannins, excellent structure and a long supple finish.

Pair this wine with delicious chocolate desserts, like a gooey, decadent chocolate cake.