Founded in 1895, Larkmead, one of Napa’s oldest and most storied family-owned estates is certainly one to explore when visiting Napa Valley. We were fortunate to visit on a beautiful Fall day and were greeted by hummingbirds dancing in the garden. The winery, located in Calistoga, is now under the care of proprietors Cam and Kate Solari-Baker who took over the property in 1992.
The winery sits on a meticulously tended 110 acre vineyard with majestic views of the Mayacamas Mountains. The setting, which is perfect to enjoy a glass of wine while taking in a sunset, is bestowed with soil enriched by years of alluvial flow allowing Larkmead to produce estate wines that reflect the complexity of their vineyard’s terroir.
Larkmead has been under the care of the Solari Family since 1948 when Kate’s parents, Larry and Polly Solari, purchased the property but it’s story began in the late 1800’s when Lillie Hitchcock, the daughter of Charles and Martha Hitchcock, was sent to the family’s countryside estate to “quiet down from her free spirited and contentious ways”. Lillie, who earned the nickname Firebelle Lil, due to her support for firefighters after she was rescued from a fire when she lived in San Francisco, named the estate Larkmead after the meadowlarks in the area. Lillie eventually became a firefighter herself. The winery honors her achievements and her spirit with three wines, the ‘Lillie’ Sauvignon Blanc, the ‘Firebelle’, a Merlot dominated blend and the Cabernet Franc inspired blend ‘LMV Salon’.
Producing small lot wines that showcase the different types of terroir found on their property is the focus at Larkmead Vineyards. Their wines are beautifully crafted and often hard to find. Extremely balanced and showcasing beautiful red and dark fruit, their 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, only 1,589 cases made, was one of our favorites. We also loved their 2017 Solari which is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and is likely to age gracefully for years to come.
The warm hospitality that our hosts, Erik Siebelist and Erinn Maloney, extended us throughout our visit made us feel completely at home. There is no doubt that a stop on this beautiful historic property will be on our itinerary the next time we are in the region. We wish that all of you wine lovers one day are as lucky as we were and find yourself enjoying a distinctive glass of wine in one of the beautifully designed salons of the Larkmead Farmhouse.