Technology, terroir and truffles all come together at this unique Napa winery.
Nestled in a hillside just a few miles from Napa, Palmaz Vineyards offers a unique view of winemaking. Born from technology – owner Julio Palmaz, M.D., made history coinventing the cardiac stent – the winery integrates high tech with ancient techniques that were probably familiar to the Romans. The results go beyond impressive.
When Julio and co-founder Amalia Palmaz, a geologist, came to Napa in the 1990s, they had a vision and dug for it – quite literally. The winery is built around 200,000 square feet of tunnels, carved into the volcanic rock. If James Bond made wine, he’d make it here.
And while the tunnels offer an impressive sight, they are a practical, rather than an aesthetic choice. Palmaz does not use pumps to move their wine around. Instead, the winery uses its 200 feet of Napa hillside to transport the wine using nature’s original propulsion system, gravity.
But that’s only the start. Chief operating officer Christian Palmaz has leveraged his data science acumen to create an array of technologies that more precisely control the winemaking process, including an artificial intelligence-supported fermentation management system and a remote sensing application to provide real-time readouts from the fermentation tanks.
Even better, the fermentation room projects the tank data on the walls, an in-house, heads-up display, so winemaking staff – headed by Tina Mitchell – can read temperature, brix (sugar content) and other metrics. The system even displays maps that pinpoint the vineyards where the grapes originated.
Tasting with Truffles
But as impressive as the winery is, the wines are even better. Rich, ripe, age worthy Cabernets, a Burgundian Chardonnay with clear Napa terroir, a crisp Riesling.
In winter, to make their private tastings even more memorable, Palmaz Vineyards is showing off its considerable culinary skills and pairing truffle-infused tasters with its wines.
Deviled quail egg with black truffle; truffle-seasoned gaufrette with herbed cream cheese; a toma truffle grilled cheese sandwich.
A highlight was a grilled Genesee Valley Ranch Waygu beef skewer with black garlic aioli and shaved truffle, which took the 2016 Cabernet to an entirely new level.
The truffle pairings are being offered through mid-march and run $195 per guest. If you’re looking for a unique and inspiring tasting experience, check out Palmaz. You’ll marvel at the process and the results.