There are ample opportunities to try wine in Napa, Calif., but for an extraordinary tasting that combines two of life’s greatest pleasures — sipping and supping — epicures should head to B Cellars. Formerly a horse ranch, the 12-acre property is now owned by co-founders Duffy Keys and Jim Borsack. Both men hail from backgrounds outside the wine industry; Keys was a longtime Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts executive, and Borsack came from the luxury leather goods industry. Through B Cellars, however, the two are offering visitors a delicious respite from county’s often repetitive tasting experiences.
This is largely due to B Cellars’ signature experience: The Oakville Trek. The exclusive food and wine pairing enables guests to enjoy varietals to their fullest potential thanks to special dishes that complement specific vinous nuances.
Upon entering B Cellar’s elegant tasting room, called Hospitality House, I had my first peek into the culinary delights to come. My friend and I arrived to find truffle potato chips with a housemade onion dip that paired superbly with the winery’s 2014 Maldonado chardonnay, as well as a scallop ceviche made with cucumber, orange and tarragon to be washed down by a 2014 Blend 23 (chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and viognier). Before I could ask chef de cuisine Derek Kuntz for seconds, we were whisked away on a tour of the site by Keys.
Keys led us through the outdoor area, proudly pointing out the honey apiary, the chicken coop and the thriving assortment of produce — all are utilized in some way for the winery’s kitchen. In the sprawling garden, artichokes sit by pumpkins, while scallions flank peach trees. Various herbs, rhubarb, beets and onions also sprout from the fertile soil, and Manzanita olive oil trees were recently planted to produce olive oil, which will surely come in handy in the kitchen, too.
The Oakville Trek also traverses the expansive and beautifully modern wine caves — which encompass more than 15,000 square feet — where all guests can receive a barrel tasting. During our tour, as we strolled the caves, Duffy explained B Cellars’ history as well as its efficacious approach to wine: With respected winemaker Kirk Venge at the helm, the winery utilizes multiple vineyards and numerous varietals to create distinct, award-winning blends.
Then, it was back to the tasting room for the remainder of our food and wine pairings. The tasting room features a demonstration kitchen — and all food items are cooked a la minute — where we observed chef Kuntz working his magic as he whipped up our next round of scrumptious eats. Soon after, he set an expertly plated dish before us. Situated in a neat row were bruschetta dressed with strawberry, smoked bacon, goat cheese and fresh thyme; a calzone teeming with the flavors of Italian sausage, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella; and a lamb brochette on a bed of wild rice and a dab of chimichurri. Though small portions, these bites were the perfect accompaniment to the just-as-satisfying tastes of a 2017 Manzana pinot noir, a 2015 Dry Creek zinfandel and a 2014 Kenefick Ranch cabernet sauvignon, respectively.
According to Keys, B Cellars’ wines change about every two weeks, as does the seasonal food selection for the tastings — all the more reason to return to the winery for yet another Oakville Trek experience.