Obsidian Wine Company’s Adventures Redefine the Tasting Room

Press Release Turns into a Visit
This spring, I received a press release detailing a new approach to winery visits and tasting. My interest was piqued as I did a little research on the winery, Obsidian Wine Co. Since I was headed out to Napa in May for a WSET exam, I contacted the PR person to inquire if I might visit. Long story made short, this turned into one of my favorite recent tasting experiences.

Disclosure: I was invited to meet with Arpad Molnar and sample two of Obsidian Wine Company’s Adventures. No other compensation was involved and all opinions expressed are mine.

Arpad Molnar, one of the co-founders of Obsidian Wine Co.

Obsidian Wine Company
After emigrating from Hungary in 1956, the Molnar family began growing grapes in Napa in 1973. Their original plot, Poseidon Vineyard, is located in Carneros just north of the marina and the San Pablo bay. In 1999, the sons decided to expand the business with the purchase of a high altitude site far north in the Mayacamas range up in Lake County, Obsidian Ridge. This new acquisition gave them acreage at sea level at the very base of the Mayacamas range, and acreage among the high peaks in the north end of the range at 2600 ft. Quite the study in contrasts!

Along the way, they came back to their roots with the purchase of the Kádár cooperage (barrel making business) in the Tokaj region of Hungary. The cooperage brings another unique factor to their wines, with Hungarian oak. Not bad for a moderate size privately owned winery! They have a very well made short video highlighting their history on their Youtube Channel at Obisidian Wine Co.

Take the Tasting into the Field, up the Mountain, into the Winery
After a while, one tasting room visit starts to look like all the others. Additionally, the connection to the vineyard is often lost, especially if the tasting room isn’t right at the vineyard. During our meeting in the vineyard, Arpad shared that zoning in Napa discourages co-location of any of the vineyard / winery / tasting room. Seeking to draw a closer connection, the folks at Obsidian Wine Co designed a series of Adventures – experiences which take the tasting out of the tasting room and into the wild. Here’s a link to their current calendar of adventures. I met Arpad out in Poseidon Vineyard to experience their Vineyard Adventure.

The Obsidian Wine Co Vineyard Adventure takes the tasting out into the vineyard source.

Going Down the Rabbit Hole for New Wine Experiences
After our tasting in the vineyard, we relocated to the winery to experience the Down the Rabbit Hole Adventure. Obsidian Wine Company describes the rabbit hole as that experience of diving into the “unfamiliar, wondrous and surreal”. Their winemakers have the opportunity to explore new concepts in wine and wine related alcohol products. The tasting is in their winery, amid stainless steel tanks and Hungarian oak barrels.

Taste what’s new and interesting when you go Down the Rabbit Hole

These are the 2021 Rabbit Hole offerings as listed on the Obsidian Wine Co website. Who knows what they’ll do in 2022?

  • “Pezsgö” Pétillant Naturel Pinot Noir – They picked and destemed the fruit and whole berries to soak with the juice for 24 hours. After pressing, the fruit is loaded into a tank to let the solids settle. They rely on yeasts that inhabit the vineyard to convert the fruit sugars to ethanol – without the use of commercial yeasts. The carbonation of this wine comes from the fermentation and residual sugars that continue to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide after bottling. (Only 157 cases made & cost $36 per bottle)
  • “Máslás” Piquette – This wine is perfect for a midday sipper. As a result of adding water to their Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc pomace, they were able to bottle their first vintage of Máslás, which more or less means “copy” in Hungarian. It’s thirst-quenching and as natural as you can get.  (Limited edition of 79 cases & cost $16 per bottle)
  • “Pear Blanc” – This wine is a combination of pear and Sauvignon Blanc. The pears are fresh Bartlett pears sourced from Lake County (known as the growers of the finest pears on the West Coast).  After fermenting both the pear juice and the Sauvignon Blanc in separate tanks, they blended the two together to create this incredible Pear Blanc with lovely aromatics of lychee and tropical fruit. (Limited edition of 70 cases & cost $16 per bottle)

By the Way, There is an Obsidian Wine Co. Tasting Room
As mentioned, local regulations favor separation of tasting room from winery and vineyard. Obsidian Wine Company has a very nice tasting room located in a little retail complex with shops and several nice casual dining spots. I took the opportunity to taste their wines from the Obsidian Ridge vineyard before going to a nice lunch at a little restaurant in the complex. Perfect mid-day stop!

When you’re planning your next visit to Napa or Sonoma, take a look at Obsidian Wine Company’s Adventures. You’re sure to find one that will make your day. I’m looking forward to a future visit and hiking up in the Obsidian Ridge Vineyard!

(click on any photo below for a full-size slide show)


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