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Rich Frank was a Disney executive who started traveling to Napa Valley for short vacations. In 1990, he bought a home in Rutherford and two years later, with his wife Connie, and friend and partner, Koerner Rombauer, Frank acquired the historic Larkmead Winery in Calistoga. In 2007, Rich and Connie Frank bought out Koerner's partnership.
The winery is located on Larkmead Lane in Calistoga. It was first constructed as Larkmead Winery in 1884 (the third oldest in the state) and was refinished with native sandstone from the nearby hills in 1906. The massive stone edifice is considered one of the finest structures in Napa Valley and appears on the National Registry of Historical Places. Lily Hitchcock Coit, a colorful figure of early California, originated the winery's name after thousands of wild meadowlarks inhabited the open fields in the area.
The winemaker since 2003 has been Todd Graff. He has worked in wineries in Europe, Australia and California including Sonoma Creek Winery, Codorniu (now Artesa), and Schramsberg. His experience with sparkling wines has led to a collection of outstanding Frank Family sparkling wines. The winery has a well-deserved reputation for its Cabernet Sauvignon. A Pinot Noir and Reserve Pinot Noir has been produced since the 2007 vintage. Sparkling wines are also offered in the traditional French methode champenoise.
The winery farms more than 250 acres of vineyards in Calistoga, Capell Valley, Carneros and Rutherford.
The tasting room was renovated in 2008 and is housed in a 1930s Craftsman home. In 2010 and 2011, the tasting room won the reader's choice for Best Tasting Room in Napa in the San Francisco Chronicle. This is a reflection of the winery's motto: "You'll never have better wine...or a better time." The tasting room is open daily, offers picnic grounds and a scenic view.
The winery was awarded "Winery of the Year" by Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine in its "Best of 2012" December issue.
2014 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.46, TA 0.61, 25,000 cases, $35. The foundation of this wine is the Frank Family’s Lewis Vineyard in Napa Carneros. Other fruit sources include Beckstoffer Vineyards and Hudson Vineyards in Napa Carneros and Sangiacomo Vineyards in Sonoma Carneros. Barrel fermented and aged with lees stirring for 9 months in French oak barrels, 34% new. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with aromas of petrichor, apple, pear, white peach, straw and vanilla. Crisp and fresh on the palate, with apple-focused flavor and very little oak overlay. Score: 89. Reviewed October 30, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.59, 5,000 cases, $35. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 33% new and 67% once and twice-filled. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of black cherry liquor, spice and potpourri. Silky in the mouth with immersed tannins, offering highly enjoyable flavors of black cherry, ripe strawberry and boysenberry. Forward drinking with intense cherry goodness on the back end. When tasted later in the day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the allure of vivid cherry and spice flavors sent me for a second glass. I prefer this wine over the Reserve. Score: 93. Reviewed October 30, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Frank Family Vineyards Lewis Vineyard Reserve Carneros Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.26, TA 0.61, 1,000 cases, $65. Dijon clones. Aged 11 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light golden yellow color in the glass. More oak influence in this reserve wine, but it is not overbearing. Aromas of apple, lemon curd and spice gather intensity over time in the glass. Refined, seamless and sophisticated, with a tasty melange of citrus, apple, tropical fruit and spice flavors and beautifully integrated oak accents. A classy wine that has all the best features of barrel fermentation. Score: 94. Reviewed October 30, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Frank Family Vineyards Lewis Vineyard Reserve Napa Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.55, TA 0.60, 1,000 cases, $65. Lewis Vineyard is located near the shores of San Pablo Bay. Bought by Rich Frank in 2000 and named for Paul Frank’s son, Lewis, this 68-acre vineyard has 10 acres planted to Pinot Noir. Soils are primarily shallow, dense clay loam and rainfall is limited to 20 inches annually resulting in very low yields. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% once-filled. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. A big boy, hedonistic wine with a plethora of blackberry, cassis and oak vanillin aromas and flavors. The tannins and acidity keep the fruit corralled, such that the wine is relatively light on its feet. Totally different from the regular bottling and well done in this generously oaked reserve style Pinot Noir. Score: 91. Reviewed October 30, 2016 ARTICLE »
2013 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.61, 5,000 cases, $35. Aged 20 months in 100% French oak barrels, 33% new, 67% once and twice-filled. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Captivating aromas of black cherry, black raspberry and spice initially, fading some over time in the glass. An elegant offering featuring very ripe cherry and berry fruit flavors with underlying hints of spice, savory mushrooms and toasty oak. Eminently like able and approachable. Score: 89. Reviewed June 14, 2015 ARTICLE »
2013 Frank Family Vineyards Reserve Lewis Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.58, TA 0.59, 1,000 cases, $65. Clones 115, 667, and 777. Aged 19 months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new and 50% once-filled. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose opens reluctantly over time to reveal ever-expanding aromas of plum, dark berry jam, black raspberry preserves, and BBQ rub spices. An opulent, full-bodied wine with deep berry and cherry flavors that fill every nook and cranny in the mouth. The oak is beautifully integrated, offering a pleasurable seasoning. The luscious fruit really taps into the brain’s pleasure centers and provides waves of goodness that last and last on the finish. Score: 93. Reviewed June 14, 2015 ARTICLE »
2013 Frank Family Vineyards Reserve Lewis Vineyard Napa Carneros Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.23, TA 0.64, 1,000 cases, $65. Dijon clones. Aged 11 months in 100% new French oak barrels. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. The nose exudes aromas of lemon oil, crème brûlée, honey and nutty oak. Discreetly lush on the palate with a slightly viscous mouth feel, offering hi-tone fruit flavors of lemon, grapefruit, white peach and pear. A very like able wine with good vibrancy, complimentary oak highlights, and a dry, thirst-quenching finish. Score: 92. Reviewed June 14, 2015 ARTICLE »
2012 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.59, TA 0.57, 8,700 cases, $35. Aged 10 months in 35% new and 65% once and twice-filled French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. There is a prominent oak overlay on the nose with demure aromas of Bing cherry. Richly fruited with a cherry and boysenberry core accented with notes of cola and earth and a noticeable mantle of nutty oak. The tannins are balanced and there is some fruit richness on the moderately long finish. Score: 88. Reviewed October 21, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Frank Family Vineyards Lewis Vineyard Reserve Napa Carneros Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.60, 1,481 cases, $65. Aged 10 months in 50% new and 50% once-filled French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Clearly a step up in quality over the regular Carneros bottling with deep, penetrating aromas of darker berries and cherries with a complimentary hint of spicy, smoky oak. A fruit-driven wine of impressive flavor with layers of blueberry, black raspberry and plum fruit that is classy. An earthy, savory undertone reflects a Carneros identity. The balance is spot on with integrated tannins, a healthy acid spine, and plenty of fruit goodness hanging on through a long finish. Score: 92. Reviewed October 21, 2014 ARTICLE »
2011 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 26,300 cases, $35. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of pine-scented oak, black cherries, ollaliberries and warm biscuit. Tasty with impressive fruit presence in a mid weight style featuring flavors of black cherries and black raspberries with a touch of spice and oak. Soft and smooth on the palate with some finishing persistence. Good (+). Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2011 Frank Family Vineyards Lewis Vineyard Reserve Napa Carneros Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., pH 3.87, TA 0.59, $57.50. Aged 9 months in 35% new and 65% once and twice-filled French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Very aromatic featuring bright scents of black raspberries and exotic spices. Full-bodied core of lush raspberry fruit with an imposing oak imprint, finishing with a bit of heat. Decent. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »
2010 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.64, $35. Aged 12 months in 35% new and 65% once and twice filled oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of plum, black currant and rose petal. Plentiful flavors of plum and black raspberry with herbs in the background. Relatively light in weight with soft tannins, leaving a little heat in its wake on the finish. Good. Reviewed April 4, 2012 ARTICLE »
2010 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Reserve Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.87, TA 0.59, $57.50. Aged 9 months in 35% new and 65% once and twice filled French oak barrels. · Dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Richly perfumed with aromas of darker red and black Pinot fruits and spice cabinet. Delicious core of ripe black plum, black cherry and black raspberry flavors offering impressive mid palate intensity and finishing strength. Soft and velvety in the mouth with supple tannins. Well-integrated oak. Only nit would be the lack of uplifting acidity but this wine aims to seduce with its luscious fruit core. Very good. Reviewed April 4, 2012 ARTICLE »
2009 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., $35. Frank Family Vineyards was founded in 1992 and owns over 200 acres of vineyards in the Napa Valley. This wine is sourced from the Frank Family’s 138- acre Lewis Vineyard, located in the heart of Napa Carneros, near the shores of San Pablo Bay, and three other vineyards in the Carneros region. The winemaker is Todd Graff. Aged 12 months in 35% new and 65% 1-year old and 2-year old French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple hue in the glass. Very shy nose offering demure dark fruit aromas with a combination of brier, pine and oak. Lovely core of black cherries and blackberries with the oak and pine showing up again on the palate. An earthy meatiness is evident as well that reflects the clay loam soils typical of Carneros Pinot. Light to medium in weight, the fruit flavors are flat-out delicious and the dusty tannins and bright acidity add to the appeal. Definitely worth a look from a producer not known for Pinot Noir. Very good. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »