Napa’s The Prisoner Wine Company
CLICK HERE if you are having difficulty viewing these photos on a mobile device
For nearly 20 years, Napa Valley’s The Prisoner Wine Company has been one of those upscale cult brands, with no vineyards or cellar to host its devoted masses. That changed in November, when owner and beverage giant Constellation Brands unveiled a sleek, modern tasting lounge that embodies all the dark, edgy vibes of this flagship bottle and its Francisco Goya label.
Located on Highway 29 in St. Helena, the new building features vaulted ceilings with a huge skylight, a living and dining room style tasting room, an open kitchen and a private tasting gallery called The Makery which features the work of 10 Northern California artists. . A salvaged diesel tank serves as a chandelier, and everything is black, metal, or gray with splashes of blood red.
TASTINGS: This is not a traditional bar, but a lounge with seated tastings by reservation only. Choose from The Line-Up ($45), which offers five wines and a free pairing (an impressive charred eggplant dip during our visit); The Makery Journey ($65), a tour and tasting of all five wines inside the Makery Gallery; or The Makery Experience ($125), an assortment of small seasonal bites from chef Brett Young, each paired with a limited-edition wine.
WINES : Wines from winemaker Chrissy Wittmann are beautifully presented, including the original Prisoner blend made with ink zinfandel ($49); Blindfold ($32), a Chardonnay with bright minerality; and Cuttings ($55), a dense and velvety Cabernet Sauvignon. But the reason to visit is to sample the new wines, which are only available on the property and to wine club members. Among them: Syndrome ($30), a crisp, year-round rosé with luscious flavors of watermelon and strawberry, and Headlock ($60), a big, rich and memorable charcoal.
A WORD ABOUT THE MAKERY: If you’re an art or design enthusiast, pay the extra $20 to do your tasting inside the studio, paying particular attention to Amanda Wright’s striking pottery, with its bold black curves and clasps. flash, as well as the installation of Agelio Batle, whose life-size graphite skeleton is set to grace the next bottle of Prisoner wine.
DETAILS: Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, last reservation available at 5 p.m.