Fleury Winery: Diamond in the Rough

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I always ask industry people about “undiscovered gems” that I should visit the next time I am in wine country – the wineries that usually are small enough to sell direct to consumers because of their limited production, high-end wines and intimate tasting experience.  Fleury Winery in Rutherford is one of those places that a few industry folks recommended so during my most recent trip to Napa we visited the winery.  We began our tasting with a very nice woman who had worked at Fleury for three days, so based on the quantity of my questions; we were quickly reassigned to Michelle, the assistant manager.

It all begins with the story of Brian Fleury, a Bay area businessman and self-taught winemaker with a passion for wine and the means to produce it.  With only 3,000 cases produced at three vineyards in Rutherford, St. Helena and Howell Mountain, the tasting room has a rustic feel, but with unique artwork from Brian’s son and special touches from Brian’s wife, Claudia, an accomplished interior decorator who was responsible for Del Dotto’s new winery.

Current releases include a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, a Zinfandel/Cabernet blend and three Cabernets.   We tried them all, so I’ll tell you about my favorites. The wine is pricey – the Sauvignon Blanc starts at $50 and the prices goes up from there.  That being said, these are wines that you could put down, but are entirely drinkable today.   The 09 Sauvignon Blanc was my husband’s favorite white wine of the trip.  Big citrus and grapefruit, but with a great balance and an almost floral nose.  The 07 F’in red was tasty – cherry, currant and a nice Bordeaux blend.  Priced at $85 a bottle, the design was definitely a conversation starter.  The 06 Lauren Bryce cab (named for Brian’s kids) was a lush, rich, fruit-forward cabernet priced at $85.  The one that made me do back flips was their signature high end wine – the 07 Passionne.  My tasting notes read as follows, “Oh.  My.  God.”  Priced at $150, you might want to pray to a higher power for discretionary income to purchase this wine, but wow – it was worth it!  We also barrel tasted the 08 Howell Mountain Cabernet and it was an inky black color with big fruit and a surprising balance for such a young wine.  I definitely have my eye on this one during release.

While I thought I was one of the first Dallasites to visit, it appears that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is known for his wine collection among other things, beat me to the punch.  He’s a big fan and Brian did a custom bottle package for his holiday gift list one year.

Because this column is all about wine experiences, I’d be doing you a disservice if I did not mention the bathroom.  It is outside.  In an oversized wine barrel.

Fleury Bathroom

Fleury was definitely a great find this trip.  Even with the $35 tasting fee, the staff is passionate and it is an intimate setting to enjoy some great juice from a whimsical winemaker with a great hand.

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