Clif Family Winery
Upon a recent visit to the Napa Valley, we stumbled upon a unique tasting room that stood apart from the larger wineries that flank Hwy 29. Velo Vino, a small tasting room owned by Clif Family Winery, is located in St. Helena, California. You’ve probably passed it by many times as we have, but today, something caught my eye and my curiosity got the better of me.
Being a self-proclaimed foodie, I stop at anything that revolves around a food truck, especially in the Napa Valley. It was cold outside and drizzling rain, but the big green truck had a warm glow about it with people lined up to get their share of goodness. The Bruschetteria, as it is aptly named, serves Italian style bruschetta topped with organic farm fresh ingredients from the Clif Family Farm to whet your appetite. It’s a great way to fuel up before a day of wine tasting or a bicycle ride in the valley.
Translation: bike wine. Interesting name for a wine tasting room. Once inside, we get a better feel for the environment. Decked out with a bicycle hanging on the wall, memorabilia and baskets of Clif Energy Bars, it starts to make more sense. Maybe the owner likes bicycles?
The tasting room is impeccable, not a bottle out of place. We are warmly greeted and offered to do a little wine tasting or enjoy a hot cup of coffee for a cold and rainy day. We tell our host that we are actually there to taste something of a different nature – olive oil. I’m sure she doesn’t get that request too often, but she whipped up a perfect tasting tray with slices of fresh baguette, three different flavors of Dukkah (a blend of ground nuts and spices), and their 2015 Clif Family Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We were impressed and stand corrected. She obviously has done this before!
Through friendly conversation, we found out that the owners, Gary and Kit, are avid cyclists. Well, that explains all the bicycle decor, but what’s up with the Clif Bars? Well, turns out that Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford are the owners and founders of Clif Bar & Company. Aaaaah, now it all makes sense!
We’re not talking wine, but extra virgin olive oil. Wine gets better with age but olive oil is best if used while it’s fresh. We tasted Clif Family’s newly released organic extra virgin olive oil that was just pressed in November 2015. The smell was heavenly with hints of fresh cut grass and fruit. We found the oil to be very well balanced with fruit and a mild peppery finish. Not too much of either to overpower each other which makes this a perfect oil for everyday cooking and dipping. The olive oil is sourced from their family farm. Frantoio, Maurino, Arbequina, Mission and Koroneiki olive varieties are used to create this delicious blend of olive oil. As a matter of fact, this oil is a 2016 Good Food Awards finalist which is impressive in itself! This limited production olive oil is also certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).
The Finish Line
Overall, we enjoyed our experience at Clif Family Winery’s Velo Vino and would recommend their warm and inviting establishment. Whether you’re heading out on a bicycle tour of the valley or not, it’s the perfect place to make a quick pit-stop and re-fuel!
Photographs taken by The Grove & Co. at Clif Family Winery in St. Helena, CA.