Recently we had the pleasure of visiting Robert Biale Vineyards in Napa. Greeted by a cheerful and energetic staff gave us the feeling that we were not only welcome, but important. Located in Napa along the Napa River, off of Big Ranch road, Robert Biale Vineyards is an easy drive from town. The scenery is beautiful overlooking plush green vineyards, backed with gorgeous Napa Valley Mountains.
A little history of the Biale family. Aldo Biale father to Robert Biale, started farming at a very young age, and helped his mother maintain their farm in the early 1900’s after the loss of Aldo’s father from a tragic accident. Aldo and his mother, produced fruits, nuts and vegetables along with Zinfandel grapes. They also raised hundreds of chickens and sold eggs as a source of income. Aldo continued growing and selling throughout the years and in 1991 with his son Robert, began a joint venture with co-worker/ Winemaker Al Perry and longtime friend Dave Pramuk. Dave has experience in sales and public relations, and plays a key role in the Biale’s success. This led to the Robert Biale Family Vineyards winemaking future. In 2004, the Robert Biale Family Vineyard completed construction of their new winery and was occupied in 2005.
We met Bob Biale and Dave Pramuk, and had the honor of spending the afternoon with Dave enjoying good stories, great wine, and the enlightening history of the Biale Family.
Wine #1- The tasting started off with a 2013 Zinfandel named Founding Fathers which was an excellent choice to begin with. The name Founding Fathers was chosen after the discoverers and creators of the Napa Valley that first planted Zinfandel throughout the valley. The wine is sourced from two of the oldest estates in St Helena which are home to traditional Old Zin Vines. The wine is 14.8% alcohol with flavors of Stone fruit, Cherry, Apricot, Vanilla, Soft Tannins, followed with Mineral Notes. We really enjoyed this wine and were curious to see what was next.
Wine #2- The next wine was a 2013 Zinfandel called Black Chicken Zinfandel. This wine was spectacular to say the least and came with a very interesting story on how it got its name. (See Story below). Black Chicken wine has developed tannins, a variety of red and dark Fruits, and aromas with characteristics of star anise, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, black and white pepper, cocoa accompanied by delicate hints of oak. This is a Biale signature Zinfandel wine in our opinion.
Black Chicken Story- Founder Aldo Biale raised White Leghorn chickens and sold the eggs along with his Zinfandel grapes to local patrons. Some of the grapes were used to make small lots of wine which Aldo sold to close friends and relatives. The family phone line was a “party line” that could be shared by other “nosy neighbors.” Hence the name “Black Chicken” was used as a code name, as not to reveal the jugs of Zinfandel wine that were sold secretly to a select few.
Wine#3- Our 3rd and last wine was an astounding 2013 Petite Sirah from Rutherford called Royal Punishers. Sourced from the CC Ranch vineyard in Rutherford, the St George rootstock grafted with old clones makes for this magnificent wine. Petitie Syrah Royal Punishers (See story below). The wine is 14.9% alcohol with flavors of wild berries, expresso, vanilla, and black tea and sexy tannins that leave your mouth wanting another glass. This is one spectacular wine and left us flabbergasted.
Royal Punishers Story- Petite Sirah is known as being one of the best varietals in the Napa Valley, and has long been a favorite of Winemakers for blending with their other red wines to help enhance and add character. Originally from France and introduced to California in the early 1900’s Petite Sirah was once the favored varietal in the Napa Valley. Royal Punishers lives up to its name and the name “Royal Punishers” was actually created by the founders during a scrabble game. They mixed the letters of “Sirah” and “Pelourson”, which are two crossed varietals used to make the grape Durif or Petite Sirah as it is commonly known.
The Biale Family spirit and dedication is apparent when visiting the winery, and a sense of intimacy resonated in the air. We felt very much at home and the wines that Robert Biale Vineyards produce were sensational. We look forward to our next visit of this memorable winery.
The Robert Biale Vineyards is based on appointment only and can be found at: