Winery Profile: NHL Players draw success with Vineyard 36

By Dathan Kazsuk and Jennifer Primrose

If you're a fan of the NHL and follow Carolina Hurricanes' hockey – you know that we haven't had much to cheer for since they won the Stanley Cup back in 2006. And if you are a fan like we are, you should know that goalie Cam Ward along with former Hurricane's D-man Tim Gleason co-own a winery in the Napa Valley called Vineyard 36.

But just how did we find out about this awesome collaboration? Once again, our friend Ben Cash at Taylor's Wine Shop had a tasting a couple years ago featuring Vineyard 36 and brought in co-owners Ward, Gleason and Jason Earnest. We came in and tried the wines and were able to chat with all three owners about their wines and what direction they planned on taking the winery.

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Vineyard 36's barrels are actually stored at Vineyard 29's facility in St. Helena, California.

So, when we were planning our Napa vacation, we decided to reach out to Vineyard 36 to see if we could get a private tour and tasting of their wines. Through a few emails back and forth, we were eventually able to set up a time and date with Vineyard 36's director of hospitality, Scott Barber.

Note: For all you non-Hurricanes' fans out there, the name Vineyard 36 comes from Ward's jersey number "30" as well as Gleason's number "6" jersey. The trio previously wanted to name the winery CANES, but were advised to forego that due to Cain Vineyard & Winery that subsides down the road.

Being a very small winery, Vineyard 36 doesn't actually have a facility or tasting room, so they produce and store their wines inside Vineyard 29. It just happened to be fate for Vineyard 36, since its current winemaker, Keith Emerson, is also the director of winemaking at Vineyard 29. 

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Yes, there's a lot of numbers going on here ... Vineyard 36 at Vineyard 29 and the address is 2929 St. Helena Highway.

The winery is nestled in an area of St. Helena that's near wineries such as William Cole, Revana Family Vineyards and Markham Vineyards. 

We came to the closed gate at V29 and said we were there to see Scott from V36. "OK. Make your way up the hill and make your first right," said the voice behind the intercom. As we were parking, Scott was standing outside to greet us. 

Once inside he showed us around the facility while pouring us the winery's latest release – its first ever Rosé release – Resilience. This rosé was released to its wine club members, and as of the release of this blog, has officially sold out! At least we were fortunate enough to buy a couple bottles that day.

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That afternoon, while in the chilly caves of Vineyard 29 we were able to sample three new wines resting in the barrels. One of which will be new to the market beginning in 2019, when Vineyard 36 releases its Black Aces signature red wine blend. Scott asked us if we know the meaning behind Black Aces – which we didn't. We were told that it's a hockey term that means the following:

Players who are recalled to the NHL from their AHL or junior teams when those teams own seasons end. Since the NHL has no roster limits after the trade deadline, any of these players would be eligible to come into a game, but usually don't unless there are injuries.

After we sampled from the barrels we moved over to sample several wines from the current release, which included the UnMask and Cross Check red blends. We currently had two years of the Cross Check in our wine cellar at home, and after leaving the cave, we will be adding the latest vintage to the cellar.

Vineyard 36 is open for visits on a limited basis by appointment only. Priority is given to mailing list customers and members of the trade. They can be reached at info@vineyard36.com.