Flora Springs Family Select Chardonnay 2015, Napa Valley
Cost: $34-36
T here are about a dozen wineries that I trust to make wines in a style I like, no matter what the grape. Flora Springs is one of those.
I have tried several of their wines over many vintages, and each one has impressed me. Their regular chardonnay, priced at about $20 is a terrific wine, but this Family Select version made from estate grapes, is even better.
It is a lush, rich chardonnay, with a creamy texture and tastes of carmelized fruit, almost a fruit tart flavor, and notes of pear and almond. It is a smooth, easy-to-drink wine that makes each meal a special event.
Because Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon is so popular, and usually so expensive, many growers don’t bother with anything else. That’s especially true in the Oakville region. We are lucky to have wineries such as Flora Springs that preserve these grapes. The temptation must be great to graft these vines over to cab.
The grapes come entirely from the family’s vineyards in Oakville (67 percent) and Carneros (33 percent). The wine is fermented in French oak barrels and aged seven months in French oak (78 percent) and concrete vessels (22 percent). The lees were stirred twice a week and 30 percent of the wine went through malolactic fermentation to add a vanilla custard finish.
Most people don’t think about aging white wine, but you could put this one aside for 3-4 years. It is an elegant but sturdy wine that feels like it would get better with some aging.
Winery: Jerry and Flora Komes bought the property for Flora Springs 40 years ago. The next year they established the winery, naming it after Flora Komes and the natural springs that run through the property.
They had bought a ghost winery, what had been the old Rennie Brothers property from the 1880s. The stone winery building had fallen into disrepair and hadn’t produced wine in many years, but the Komeses liked the land in the northwest corner of the Rutherford appellation.

They planned to retire there, but their son John thought it might be exciting to restore the old winery and make some wine. It didn’t take too much persuasion because Flora already loved the old stone building at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains.
There were grapevines growing there, so the family made wine the first year. The 1978 crush yielded 200 cases made with home winemaking equipment.
Then the whole family joined in. Jerry and Flora were joined by their children, John and his wife Carrie, and Julia Garvey and her husband Pat.
The family restored the stone winery and expanded the caves dug into the hillside to 1,000 linear feet.
The winery hit the ground running. Their 1979 Chardonnay won a gold medal at the prestigious Los Angeles County Fair.
The original estate consisted of 325 acres of land and 60 acres of vineyard. The family now owns 650 acres of organically-farmed, sustainable vineyards. The estate blends history with state-of-the-art technology and environmentally conscious techniques.
Specifically tailored stainless steel and concrete fermenters are sized to match the blocks of the nine estate vineyards. The family tries to craft each wine to reflect the place in which it was grown.
The winery also is run primarily by solar power.
Third-generation vintners and cousins Nat Komes and Sean Garvey, both of whom grew up at the winery washing barrels and sweeping floors, are now poised to take over the operations.
The winery makes a number of artisanal wines, a single-vineyard sauvignon blanc and several single-vineyard cabernet sauvignons. The Napa Valley series includes a cab, a merlot, a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc.
Flora Springs’ signature wine is a blockbuster Bordeaux varietal blend called Trilogy. First produced in 1984, it was a blend of three Bordeaux varietals: cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. Now it contains as many as five varietals in some years. It was one of the first meritage wines in Napa Valley.
Julie Garvey joined other vintners to establish the Meritage Association to help boost the reputation of American made Bordeaux-style blends.
Third-generation vintners and cousins Nat Komes and Sean Garvey, both of whom grew up at the winery washing barrels and sweeping floors, are now poised to take over the operations.
Grilled pork chops were a great match for Flora Springs Chardonnay.
Goes with: We had this wine with boneless pork chops I cooked on the grill, and it was a great pairing. The rich fruit of the wine was able to hold its own with the hearty pork flavors.
For the grilling I dust both sides of each chop with Morton Nature’s Seasons, which gives the meat a complex, lively flavor. Then I cook the meat on a medium hot grill, about five minutes on each side, or just enough to remove all the pink in the middle while leaving it juicy.
My wife Teri, and my son Michael had their own side dishes, but I paired my pork chop with dumplings and sauerkraut. My favorite childhood meal was dumplings, sauerkraut and pork, a Czech staple, so this meal comes very close to that.
These are not traditional southern dumplings. They are made with boiled potatoes run through a ricer, flour and eggs. You knead the dough then break off pieces to form thick logs about six inches long that are then dropped in boiling water and cooked for about 15 minutes.
We have been eating a great deal of pork lately because supermarkets are running great specials, with pork loins priced as low a $1.69 per pound. I cut the loins in two or three pieces and freeze them, using them as roasts, chops, or cut up in stews or stir fried.
This delicious wine also would pair well with rich seafood dishes, pasta with cream sauce, seafood on the grill or baked chicken.

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