I was so fortunate to have Tor Kenward agree to be my first interview on my podcast “Napa Valley Inside Out.” Tor is a friend, brilliant vintner, and Napa Valley stakeholder who knows nearly every inch of Wine Country. TOR Wines is offering five new tasting experiences, each of which will appeal to those who enjoy extraordinary wine in our beautiful environment. A visit to TOR, located at Wheeler Farms in St. Helena, is memorable enough on its own. Pairing the gracious estate with TOR wines can result in an unforgettable experience. Even more exciting, TOR is offering other tasting experiences at some of Wine Country’s most stunning locations.
If you love wine, you certainly know TOR Wines, which Tor Kenward and his wife Susan established following his retirement from Beringer after nearly 30 years of developing the foods and wines for which he is noted. TOR wines are hand-crafted in small quantities, benefiting from Tor’s vision as well as the experience, artistry, and instincts of winemaker Jeff Ames and associate winemaker David Grega.
TOR Wines at Wheeler Farm
Among the five new private tasting experiences offered by TOR Wines are two centered at Wheeler Farm on Zinfandel Lane in St. Helena.
The Al Fresco Wines Experience
A customizable experience, the Al Fresco Wine Experience takes place at the 12-acre historic Wheeler Farm in St. Helena. The Wheeler has a spectacular view of Mount St. Helena, gorgeous gardens, and a state-of-the-art winemaking facility.
The experience will begin with a stroll through the Wheeler Farm gardens and continue with a tour of the winemaking facility. There, you’ll learn about the advanced technology used to produce such marvelous wines.
The Al Fresco Wines Experience will feature five different wines from different terroirs in Napa Valley, including the 2018 TOR Carneros Chardonnay, 2017 TOR Tierra Roja Cabernet, and 2017 TOR Melanson Cabernet. You’ll also enjoy Chef Sarah Heller’s cheese and charcuterie platter. This experience is $125 a person and may be scheduled by contacting TOR Wines. I highly recommend it as an introduction to the winery’s highly-ranked and notable wines.
Single Vineyard Barrel Tasting of the Stunning 2019s
How many times would we have the opportunity to taste barrel samples of TOR’s spectacular wines before they’re bottled? The label’s stunning 2019 single vineyard cabernets that will be included in this tasting include wines from Melanson, Tierra Roja, Beckstoffer To Kalon, and Vine Hill Ranch.
Like the Al Fresco Wines Experience, this tasting begins with a garden walk through Wheeler Farm and also includes a tour of the winemaking facility. In addition to the barrel tastings, you’ll have an additional tasting of current bottlings from different terroirs, as well as a selection of small bites prepared by Chef Sarah Heller.
Tastings Elsewhere for Tor Wines
The Pritchard Hill Hike & Flight
One of TOR’s specialties are single-vineyard cabernet sauvignons, and one of the most notable Napa Valley vineyards they partner with is Greg Melanson’s Pritchard Hill vineyard. The grapes from Pritchard Hill are as spectacular as the views from the 1,500-foot elevation overlooking the valley. Pritchard Hill is not usually open to visitors, and this hike and tasting are only available through TOR and the gracious support of Greg Melanson.
The Pritchard Hill Hike & Flight features a hike through the vineyards along with TOR’s winemaker Jeff Ames. You may schedule this tour through TOR Wines, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes. The hike through the vineyard can easily be tailored to your fitness level. Following the hike, you will be able to taste TOR’s Grand Dames chardonnays and TOR’s Melanson cabernets, along with a selection of charcuterie and cheese.
Black Magic Experience
To experience the best that Napa Valley has to offer in wine culture, wines, and food, the Black Magic Experience is open by appointment only to select customers. Designed to provide a “behind the scenes” look at the finest wines TOR makes and their source, the Black Magic Experience includes winery tours with David Grega, TOR’s associate winemaker, and a Michelin-starred meal at Charter Oak Restaurant in St. Helena.
David Grega will host you for exclusive tours of Vine Hill Ranch, To Kalon, and Beckstoffer Dr. Crane vineyards. Following the vineyard tour, you will join David at Charter Oak restaurant for a three-course lunch prepared by Michelin-starred chef Christopher Kostow. Following lunch, you will be able to sample barrel tastings from TOR’s upcoming Black and Pure Magic wines and additional tastings from TOR’s highly-rated bottlings.
Tor Wines Virtual Tasting Experience
In addition to TOR’s four in-person tasting experiences, you can enjoy a virtual tasting experience with associate winemaker David Grega. David will give you a personal, virtual private tasting of TOR’s most notable wines. He’ll share his take on the art of winemaking with you during the virtual experience.
How does this work? You can order a recommended case of TOR wines selected by David, or you may order your own wine selections for the case. You can enjoy the virtual tasting experience with the purchase of a case or more. Schedule your virtual, personal tasting with David, who will explain each wine to you as you sip and enjoy.
I can’t recommend these tours and tastings more highly. Even if you’re not traveling at present, you can still experience TOR wines and have a virtual tasting experience. If you are in Wine Country, you can enjoy the other in-person wine tastings and tours.
I loved being able to sit down and talk with Tor Kenward for Napa Valley Inside Out’s first podcast. A lucky break after a successful concert brought Tor to Napa Valley, where he spent 27 years at Beringer. Tor’s artistry and love for food and wine soon brought him together with Julia Child. As Tor says, “I don’t think I ever said no to Julia,” and their relationship lasted for decades, featuring mutual respect and a deep desire to continue to learn and grow.
Wheeler Farms is an extraordinary place and provides a unique and beautiful backdrop for TOR wines, along with the other great Napa Valley locations. I can promise you that if you engage in just one or all of the marvelous private wine tastings that Tor and his team have put together, you will learn so much and have an unforgettable experience. The tastings began in June and are continuing through harvest. All you need to do is contact TOR Wines to schedule your exclusive tasting experience. Be sure to check out TOR’s website and dive into his Winemaker Diaries. You will love them ‒ he is a brilliant writer and storyteller.