Super Bowl Coach Hosts Napa Valley Tour

Dick Vermeil takes guests on an insider’s experience of the wine region

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Coach Dick Vermeil // (c) 2010

Coach Dick Vermeil

A small group of wine enthusiasts will have the opportunity to experience the harvest period in Napa Valley, Calif., — also known as the “crush” season — with Super Bowl-winning coach and winemaker, Dick Vermeil, as part of a select AuthentEscapes departure in October. The founder of Vermeil Wine Group and a Napa Valley native, coach Vermeil will guide guests on an insider’s collection of inspired experiences.

“This very special program offers guests the rare opportunity to spend time with a beloved NFL sports figure and passionate winemaker,” said Malaka Hilton, owner and president of AuthentEscapes. “Napa Valley wines are part of a complex tapestry of history, culture and food — all of which are dear to the coach’s heart. Our enjoyment of wine is enhanced greatly when we can talk to the winemaker, learn about the wine’s history, and pair it with the perfect dish.”

One of the highlights of the tour, according to Hilton, is a champagne reception, private tour and paired dinner at the acclaimed Opus One Winery in Oakville. Founded in 1979 by Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, the winery is celebrated for producing some of the best wine in the world, combining the traditions and methods of Old World French winemaking with the New World vigor of Napa Valley.

In addition to Opus One, guests will enjoy tours, tastings and paired dining at other celebrated wineries, including Far Niente, Castello di Amorosa (Sattui), Duckhorn, Vine Cliff, Paraduxx, Silver Oak, Chateau Montelena and, of course, Vermeil Wines.

As a fourth-generation Napa native, Vermeil grew up surrounded by the vineyards that had been owned by his ancestors since the early 1900s. He used to help his grandfather, Albert Vermeil, make the family wine. In 2008, he returned to his roots, turning to longtime friend winemaker and founder of OnThEdge Winery, Paul Smith. Grown from grapes harvested on the nearby Frediani Family Vineyard, Vermeil wines are praised by critics, including Robert Parker, who gave Vermeil Wines 2002 Cabernet a 93 rating.

In 2009, Vermeil Wine Group and Smith opened up the Vermeil Wines tasting room in Calistoga, which guests on the tour will visit for a reception and tasting. Vermeil will also take guests on a daylong excursion to the family-owned Pride Mountain Vineyards, a 235-acre estate with a stunning view of Mount St. Helena. Here, guests will have an opportunity to sample the latest vintages while taking in some delightful, off-the-beaten-path surprises Coach Vermeil has arranged.

“Harvest is an exciting time to be in the Valley,” said Vermeil. “There’s so much activity creating a buzz everywhere you go. This trip is going to capture that excitement with good friends, good food and great wines. I’m as excited about this tour as our guests will be.”

Guests traveling on the program will stay on at Meadowood, one of the most distinctive resorts in the region. Set on 250 acres, Meadowood offers luxurious guests suites, championship tennis, golf and croquet, miles of wooded hiking trails, a fitness center, and a wellness spa. The resort’s restaurant, headed up by two-star Michelin chef Christopher Kostow, enjoys longtime relationships with area wineries, dairies, farmers and fisherman to offer fresh seasonal fare.

AuthentEscapes’ Napa Valley Harvest Tour with Coach Vermeil will take place Oct. 3-7.