With its $100 million price tag, it’s a terrific place for a picnic lunch.
Of course, Japanese tycoon Kenzo Tsujimoto had grander ideas than just sack lunches for his new Napa winery, which he finally opened May 1 after 20 years of planning and construction. And the chairman and founder of Japan’s Capcom Co. video game giant has accomplished that, with some 120,000 grape vines planted on the 4,000-acre Mount George estate in the east Napa Valley.
His Kenzo Estate, including 70 acres of vineyards originally planted in 1998 then torn out and replanted in 2002, has already produced its first wines, snapped up by buyers like Koju, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tokyo’s high-end Ginza shopping district. The wines are available only in limited quantities at the tasting room, for winery club members, and at a select few California restaurants, such as the French Laundry and Bouchon restaurants in Yountville and Beverly Hills.
For the visitor to the by appointment only, gated property, there are 20,000 square feet of wine caves to explore, and a lovely tasting room designed in California barn style of modern earth tones, surrounded by 150-year-old olive trees.
Yet this being Napa, land of jaw-dropping wineries, it takes even more to wow worldly tasters, and for that, Tsujimoto is showcasing lunch. The creator of the Street Fighter and Resident Evil video games has teamed with French Laundry celebrity chef Thomas Keller for pairings including a cheese plate or a full sit-down meal.
Tastings don’t come cheap – Kenzo Estate’s signature wine is called Rindo — a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot —and sells for $75 a bottle. Other wines include Asatsuyu Sauvignon Blanc ($60), Murasaki Cabernet-based blend ($150) and Ai Cabernet Sauvignon ($150).
For, $30 you can get four one-ounce pours, while $50 gets you four two-ounce pours paired with a Bouchon selection of artisan cheeses, dried fruits, wildflower honey, candied walnuts and cranberry walnut bread.
For $60, you can add lunch, a casual affair where you sit inside or on the patio overlooking the park-like grounds and tuck into a gourmet sandwich. Add full glasses of your favorite wine for $14-$35.
So what will you be eating? Keller creations include a hearty beef brisket on pretzel brioche with horseradish-Dijon aioli, red mustard greens, fontina, house pickles and pickled red onions; a tuna Nicoise on paladin bread; or French Madrange ham and tangy gruyere on a baguette.
You can also get lighter bites of charcuterie, like an assiette of Saucisson Sec Basquese salami, gentile pork salami, and rosette de Lyon French pork sausage with pickled garden vegetables, Edmond Fallot mustard and epi baguette; or rillettes of fresh and smoked salmon atop toasted croutons.
Finish up with a tarte au citron ($11.50), chocolate bouchons ($10), macarons ($12), and a cup of Bouchon Blend Equator Coffee ($3).
Living large? We’ll toast to that.
Details: Kenzo Estate, 3200 Monticello Road, Napa, 707-259-5408, kenzoestate.com. Open for tastings by appointment only seven days a week from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Let them know if you want the sandwich lunch when making your reservation.
Tip: Take the long and winding road up the mountain in style and comfort, with a Pure Luxury limousine or Town Car!