SF Wine Blog

Exploring wine in and around San Francisco.

A Welcome Surprise in Napa: Corison Winery


For a couple of years, I avoided buying Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s not because I don’t like Napa Cabs, it’s just that with price points starting at around $50, I just couldn’t afford them.  And –truth be told– I found that many I tasted were way too similar:  big, bold, cocksure wines that were certainly tasty, but not particularly distinct.

So it was with great and welcome surprise that I found my way to Cathy Corison’s namesake winery.  Cathy settled down in Napa after completing a masters program in Enology at U.C. Davis in the 1970s.  After building a great reputation by working at some top-notch spots, Cathy started Corison Winery, and released her first wines under that label in 1987.

I was fortunate enough to meet Cathy during my visit a few weeks ago, and it was an absolute treat.  She has a very calm, self-assured, and warm manner.  Cathy speaks with great reverence for the “Rutherford Dust” – the distinct soil of this part of Napa that she wants to ensure comes through in her wines.  Indeed, Cathy is well recognized for her terroir-driven, artisanal wines, and she exudes a quiet confidence and passion as she talks about her role of shepherding grapes through the winemaking process.

Cathy’s wines are an extension of her personality:  elegant, balanced, and confident without being boastful.  The aromatics are beautiful and complex — floral, spice, and fruit notes that will stay with you even hours after you’ve finished the last glass.   And once you take a sip, you’re in for a real surprise:  these wines have the power and structure to hold up with any Napa “big boys” but are also vibrant and lively.  Cathy strives to create wines that are both “powerful and elegant” and she certainly hits the mark with these beautifully balanced Cabs.

Kronos Vineyard

Kronos Vineyard

Tucked away behind the winery is the Kronos Vineyard, an organically farmed plot of land with gnarly 40-year old vines, interlaced with mustard plants.  These are distinguished looking vines that stretch and wind their way out of the soil.  After harvest, the grapes from this vineyard will find their way into Cathy’s single vineyard Cabernet.

Corison Tasting Room

The tasting room experience at Corison also stands out.  Unlike many of  the Disney-fied castles that dot Highway 29, Corison’s Victorian-barn structure (designed by Cathy’s husband) hearkens back to Napa’s agrarian roots.

This was a memorable visit and put an end to my Napa Cab buying drought.  I hope you’ll stop by during your next trip up Highway 29.

Here are the wines I tasted during my visit:

  • 2007 Corazón Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer
  • 2007 Corazón Napa Cabernet Rosé
  • 206 Helios Napa Cab Franc
  • 2007 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2006 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2001 Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

For more information on Corison Winery, check out the following:

Winery Information

Corison Winery

Corison Winery
987 St. Helena Highway
St. Helena, CA 94574

Tastings by Appointment
Call 707.963.0826
$10 Tasting Fee


11 thoughts on “A Welcome Surprise in Napa: Corison Winery

  1. Nice post. Good to hear a bit more about your wine point of view.

    • Thanks Andy! Have you been to Corison? Would love to hear about your experience there.

      • Nope. I have been similarly unenthused about Napa cabs for quite awhile. They are simply too pricey, especially when you consider all of the international options we have nowadays. In terms of style, I’m curious to see if/how Galloni’s new role at the Wine Advocate – taking over for Parker – will change things up.

  2. Great post, I had the good fortune to visit Corison for the first time last October, and your words echo my sentiments exactly! And anyone I know who has been there and/or tasted her wines feels the same way. Always a positive response when Corison is mentioned. I wish others would follow suit, maybe I’d actually start looking at the California section in the stores!

    • Thanks for your comment, Kyrstyn, and I’m glad you enjoyed reading the blog post! Let me know if you have any other favorite California wines — always looking for recommendations!

  3. I also just came into contact with Corison wines at Family Winemakers in San Diego and could not find enough words to describe how lovely, balanced, and delicious these wines were. Nice post on a great property and winemaker!

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