By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Take Frank Family wines to your own family reunion this summer. Other family members are sure to recognize the label, recall its reputation, and reach for it. So take a few extra bottles, and expect to soon be the new family favorite.
Frank Family Vineyards dates back to 1884, as Larkmead Winery. Remaining is the original building, refinished with native sandstone from nearby hills in 1906, and it appears on the National Register of Historical Places. Hollywood famed executive Rich Frank bought the property in 1992, which was home to Kornell Champagne Cellars at the time, and started a new chapter in its history book for the Frank Family. And an important part of its history is also winemaker Todd Graff. Graff graduated from UC Davis with a degree in plant science and viticulture in 1984. Afterward, he made wine for great producers around the world before coming to Frank Family in 2003.
On a trip to Napa Valley, I visited with Rich and Todd, picnicked on the scenic property, and tasted with Dennis Zablosky in The Tasting Room. The Frank Family Tasting Room is among the most popular stops in the Valley. Not only do we get to taste Frank Family wines, but we also enjoy the antics of Tasting Room manager and Napa Valley personality Zablosky.
The most recent releases include Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay and Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Zinfandel 2012. The Carneros Chardonnay 2013 ($35) is straw in color with sunny notes of tropical fruit, vanilla, green apple, and honeysuckle. Its extraordinary depth in part is derived from hand stirring while aging on the lees. Pair the Chard with shellfish and dishes with a cream-based sauce. Napa Valley Zinfandel 2012 ($37) is a blend of 79 percent Zin, 18 percent Petite Shirah, and three-percent Cabernet Sauvignon. This balanced wine is scarlet in color with luscious notes of plum, cherry rhubarb, white pepper, licorice, and tarragon. Pair it with lamb, pizza, or barbecue.