March 25th , 2013“Happy birthday — to us!” Whitehall Lane Winery Celebrates 20th AnniversaryThis month, Whitehall Lane Winery celebrates its 20th anniversary. In March 1993, Tom Leonardini Sr. bought the 25-acre Whitehall Lane estate in Rutherford, Calif. Wine grapes had been grown on the site since the late 19th century. Today, Whitehall Lane owns and farms seven vineyards on prime patches of the Napa Valley floor encompassing about 140 acres.We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our birthday than by welcoming you to a tasting here in St. Helena, Calif. (if you can’t make it the valley, by all means please raise a glass at home, and we’ll return the toast in spirit).Spring is lovely in the valley, with warm days and crisp nights and fewer crowds than in the summer. If you hit the winery in the later afternoon, as the sun descends, the Mayacamas foothills just to the west glow a hazy purple that’s the same color as part of the winery’s façade.The easiest way to celebrate is simply to walk into the winery’s renovated tasting room at 1563 Saint Helena Highway South (also known as Highway 29), just south of the main part of the village of St. Helena. A tasting of four current releases is $15. For folks who are new to Whitehall Lane, the current-release tasting is a great introduction; for longtime friends, it’s a chance to drink old favorites.The tasting room atmosphere is lively and friendly and without pretension. Feel free to ask questions of the staff. There are no stupid questions because the more you know about wine, the more you enjoy it. If you need a recommendation for lunch or dinner, ask us about that, too. We’re Napa Valley locals, so we’ve got the inside track on dining.Club RoomThe $25 reserve tasting in the tasting room focuses on wines that are available only at the winery. Such as: our late harvest Belmuscato dessert wine crated from 100 percent estate-grown orange muscat grapes. The wine is botrytised, meaning that botrytis mold shriveled the grapes, concentrating their sugars and acids to produce a lush, rich (but never cloying) wine with a golden halo of honeysuckle.If you’ve got a larger group or want something special to toast Whitehall’s 20th, consider booking our Club Room for a private version of the reserve tasting, or for a private wine and food pairing, each led by one of our senior wine professionals. The room affords gorgeous views of the estate, the Rutherford appellation and Whitehall Lane’s barrel cellar.The food pairings are prepared in the winery’s brand new event kitchen lying just off the Club Room. If you’re lucky, perhaps Chef Larry will be there, testing a dish and in the mood to hand out samples. The wine and food pairing is $37.50. To reserve the Club room, call (800) 963-9454 ext. 29 or email [email protected].However you feel like celebrating our anniversary, we look forward to welcoming you at Whitehall Lane — and to our next 20 years!