Salvador Maron sings to the vines at Corison Winery because ‘it makes them happy so they produce good grapes.’ Salvador is the cellar master and vineyard manager at Cathy Corison’s iconic Napa Valley winery. I visited on a gorgeous fall morning at the peak of harvest while grapes were being crushed. There’s a smell you encounter just once a year and it’s intoxicating.
Cathy got her Master’s in Oenology from U.C. Davis in the ’70s and began her wine-making journey shortly thereafter. Her philosophy is simple. Get it right in the vineyards and use a hands-off approach. She makes three wines; Guwürtztraminer, Cabernet Franc and the crown jewel, Cabernet Sauvignon. I first met Cathy a few years ago and had a wonderful visit with her. Her wines are ‘vintage driven’ and she wants them to reflect what happened the year the grapes grew. As she puts it, ‘it’s all about terroir.’ She absolutely loves crafting her wines and we tasted several library wines on that visit and my most recent visit.
We started with her 2009 Corazón Guwürtztraminer from Anderson Valley, a crisp, delightful expression of that grape. Moving on the the Cabernet Sauvignon, the first pour was the not yet released 2009. One of the things that impresses me about Cathy’s wines is that her young wines are so approachable and you know they’re only going to get better. We tasted the 2004 and 2006 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet, the 2000 and 2005 Kronos Vineyard Cabernet and the 2008 Helios Cabernet Franc. Her wines are a Cab lover’s dream. All were outstanding, but the 2000 and 2005 vintages were exceptional. Salvador said the weather in 2005 was ‘just perfect. We had warm days and cool nights and 2012 was very similar.’
Corison is open by appointment at 987 St. Helena Highway in St. Helena. Give them a call at 707.963.0826. You’ll enjoy an unhurried experience and hopefully a chance to meet Cathy. On this visit I got to say hi to her while she was up on a ladder atop a tank.