If you’re planning a trip to the Napa Valley and would like to find a path less travelled, take a trip down Fulton Lane at the north end of the town of St. Helena. Here you’ll find several “boutique” wineries where the welcome is exceeded only by the superlative wines you will sample.
Fulton Lane itself is historic being named for David Fulton, the founder of the eponymous winery in 1860. In fact, it is the oldest continuously owned and operated family vineyard in California. David Fulton established the vineyard in 1860, and the winery was built the following year. One hundred and fifty-three years later, the sixth generation is now in the wings waiting their turn.
When you stop by, you will probably meet one of the family in the tasting room. It might be fourth generation Fulton Mather, great grandson of the founder, who runs the winery or his son, Richard, the winemaker. They are known for their Old Vine Petite Sirah, which grows exclusively in their vineyard and produces just 400 or so cases each vintage of dark, rich wine that fills the mouth with incredible flavors. Because of its depth of color and intensity, Petite Sirah is often used to blend with other wines. As a result, it is not as well known as other red varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Try it at the David Fulton Winery and you will start a love affair. If you are a Petite Sirah lover already, then you are in for a treat.
In 2006, Fulton Mather and his wife, Dink, restored the original winery building, along with a house and a tank house on the property. They also built a magnificent deck around an historic oak tree that overlooks the vineyards and is the perfect place for a picnic lunch. You’ll feel like an extended member of the family as you laugh and make new friends at the tasting bar, or relax in a comfortable chair and contemplate the vineyards stretching before you.
Tasting is available seven days a week but you do need to make an appointment. Here’s the web site www.davidfultonwinery.com.
Watch for news of more wineries on the path less travelled!