It takes a valley — to sustain a winery

February 12th, 2013

Posted in Winery

Cole’s Chop House

It takes a valley — to sustain a winery.

At Whitehall Lane, the farming, picking, fermenting, aging, tasting, bottling, labeling and shipping are only part of the story. We’re not just family wine makers —we’re also part of the larger wine family of Napa Valley. And because of that, we know our colleagues in local restaurants contribute to our success through sharing, pairing and recommending our wines.

As of this post, nearly two dozen Napa Valley restaurants offer at least one Whitehall Lane bottling on their wine list. Among them are big-name attractions like Bottega, Morimoto and Mustards Grill, and lesser-known (at least to many visitors) gems like La Condesa and Mini Mango Thai Bistro.

Although we don’t have the space here to list every valley restaurant that carries Whitehall Lane, we can share suggested pairings of Whitehall wines with dishes from some of our restaurant partners:

● Bistro Don Giovanni, 4110 Howard Lane, Napa, Calif., 707-224-3300, www.bistrodongiovanni.com

It’s smart to make reservations at this hopping Napa Valley standard. Look for our Napa Valley merlot, whose fuller style would complement the lamb and ricotta meatballs or a brawny grilled bistro burger. The merlot’s plum and berry flavors also would nicely contrast with earthy garganelli (pasta tubes similar to penne) topped by porcini and sausage ragù.

● Cole’s Chop House, 1122 Main St., Napa, Calif., 707-224-6328, www.coleschophouse.com

A classic American steakhouse calls for a classic American red — our Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. Potential food partners abound: Five Dot Ranch dry-aged rib-eye (from the Swickard family, cattle ranchers for seven generations), USDA Prime grade New York or porterhouse steaks, or a 10-ounce Certified Angus Beef filet mignon. And Cole’s, like a true steakhouse, will cook the beef to your desired doneness.

● La Condesa, 1320 Main St., St. Helena. Calif., 707-967-8111, www.lacondesa.com/napa

The folks at La Condesa aptly describe their delicious food as modern Mexican. The restaurant carries our Napa Valley merlot by the glass. At lunch, grab a glass to sip alongside a beef tostada mounded with black beans and shredded Snake River Farms beef. In the evening, try the merlot with chicken mole tacos (rice and beans just $2 more) or with Painted Hills tri-tip carne asada.

● Mini Mango Thai Bistro, 1408 Clay St., Napa, Calif., 707-226-8884, www.minimangonapa.com

White wines are often paired with Asian foods, but Mini Mango serves our Carneros Pinot Noir, and we think this delicately perfumed, medium-bodied wine will find plenty of partners on the menu. Think roasted shiitake spring rolls with plum dip, grilled prawn and green papaya salad, braised tofu curry scented with cardamom, or pan-roasted salmon fillet with baby bok choy.

● Norman Rose Tavern, 1401 First St., Napa, Calif., 707-258-1516, www.normanrosenapa.com 

Norman Rose offers an inspired but approachable take on American comfort food. Our Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc — crisp but not too sharp, with some forward fruit and a jot of oak — seems made for the chicken and Little Gems lettuce salad with jalapeño-lime dressing, a pan-roasted fish sandwich with caper mayonnaise, or (to both cut richness and complement smoke) a grilled cheese sandwich with smoky tomato dip.