Priest Ranch Wines is located in Yountville, and serves as a satellite location showcasing the wines of the 600 acre parcel of the same name in Chiles Valley. The Priest Ranch label was inspired by James Joshua Priest, a Gold Rush prospector who settled in the area in 1869. In 2004, the Priest Ranch property was combined with over 900 acres in Elder Valley to become Somerston Estate and over the years supplied fruit to Napa legends Heidi Barrett and David Ramey. Today the 1615 acre estate, under the creative mastery of winemaker Craig Becker, produces a diverse selection of Somerston and Priest Ranch wines from over 215 acres of distinct areas and 180 different blocks.
The wines, mostly Bordeaux varietals, are spectacular, many of which tout 90 plus scores from Robert Parker year over year. Their flagship label is Coach Gun, a big, gorgeous Bordeaux blend, and is a favorite among their loyal fans. They also produce some interesting and unique varietals, including a beautiful Grenache Blanc, a 100% Petite Syrah, a Malbec and a Brut Rosé.
The tasting room is strategically positioned on Washington Street, easily accessible by the bustling sidewalk traffic. Upon entering, guests are welcomed by a cozy, open atmosphere, with seating options to appeal to anyone’s mood. Whether it be a lazy, plush sofa to relax and converse, pub tables with open window seats to people watch, or a more formal private room with a fireplace, it does not take long for guests to scout a favorite spot to settle in.
On our tasting room visits, the space was not busy, so where to sit and what to taste were up for grabs. Upon entry, tasting options were offered with choices consisting of four wines, priced from $25 to $50 based on vintage and varietal. Unfortunately, the more interesting add on options, a cheese and/or a bacon pairing, were left to be discovered on the tasting menu after the seating and orders had already been placed with the host. Luckily the bacon pairing could be added after finishing the first pour. Once it arrived it was unique and delicious, especially the bacon jam, however, the server could have spent some time offering guidance on some favorite ways to complement the wines.
During the course of the visits, the staff’s presence was pleasant and tasting menu followed as written. When each pour was transitioned, there was good explanation of what comprised the contents of each wine, but the overall presentation lacked a background story tied to history of the Ranch and Somerston Estate or the origin of the wines. Details of the wine club were apparent on the menu listing, but were not presented by the staff.
While our shoppers didn’t build connections directly with the hosts, the wines were enjoyable, the bacon pairing was exceptional and the relaxed vibe of the tasting room were memorable enough to prompt a future visit during an excursion in Yountville.
Priest Ranch has a lot to offer: Spectacular wines, a convenient, warm space to relax, sip and swirl in a prime location perfectly positioned to capture the attention of new visitors and offer a respite from the bustle of Yountville. Perhaps that is the intention, but from the inside out, looking at it from a sales perspective, there should be more emphasis placed on building connections with guests and positioning the brand story through the interesting history of the properties, the unique diversity of the varietals and award winning credentials behind their beautiful wines.
Our rating is based on the presentation of a strong foundation, knowledge of wines and providing an approachable relaxing vibe.
Priest Ranch Wines
6490 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
WHAT THEY DID WELL:
Prime location, walk-ins welcomed, cozy, relaxed ambiance, no pressure for timeline for visit, approachable wines, unique tasting menu
DTC BEST PRACTICES RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Offer more information on the history of the winery, vineyards & affiliation with Somerston Estate, founders, unique varietals
Sales Acumen & Wine Club:
- Discovery- Focus on ways to better engage and build connections with guests
- Closing- Upselling tasting menu options, value proposition to sell wines/wine club