Keys to the cellar and the past
Restoring the quintessence of a Queen Anne mansion is no easy feat, but hard work wasn’t going to stand in the way for Lauren Ackerman of Ackerman Family Vineyards. She began a daunting five-year journey of meticulously restoring one of Napa’s famous pink ladies to its former 19th-century splendor.
Located just two blocks off of downtown Napa’s iconic Main Street, this historic mansion stands as a reflection of the area’s rich cultural history. Now re-christened the “The Ackerman Heritage House,” this grand old lady proudly welcomes visitors to indulge in Napa’s historic charm and appreciation for high caliber wines.
Laurens’s commitment to her community and preserving the past is so loyal that she took extraordinary steps to ensure the fate of this ‘grand dame’ would always remain a benefit to the town.
According to a newspaper report that Ackerman found while researching the house, it was built in just 90 days by Luther Turton, one of the most profound architects of the late 1890s and early 1900s. Turon built some 125 houses in Napa alone, including the Wine Spectator house and Churchill Manor in the downtown area.
Open the original stained-glass paneled double-doors and take the carpet-ride journey back in time and experience one of the best-elevated wine tasting experiences in Napa.
Greeted with a warm smile and a glass of Lloyd Cellars Chardonnay, the small-production label of Rob Lloyd, also the winemaker for Ackerman, you are introduced to the home. Tales of the former residents who lived their lives inside this era precise decor conjures many stories to be shared as you’re guided around. You’ll enter a stunning library with original and first-edition books, even one signed by Mark Twain. Into a modest-sized living room with stately period antiques, bedrooms with elaborate hand-carved beds, glass chandeliers, tapestry rugs, and a formal dining table set for 10 with underlay lace doilies, fine china, crystal stemware and flickering polished silver candle operas. Seventeen original hot-lead stain glass windows dance in the sunlight, each at their own time throughout the day putting emphasis of the elaborate old-growth Redwood ornate doors and crown moldings. Everywhere you look, the home is stunning.
The only updated touch to the renovation was creating a ‘chefs dream’ kitchen. It’s the perfect amount of modern technology for chef Kelly Macdonald to weave her culinary magic with a three-course extravagance for their Food and Wine Experience and the delectable treats for their Afternoon Tea experience. For those who want to increase your culinary repertoire, sign up for Janet Fletcher’s, a locals favorite, Cooking Class.
The best is left for last with an educational tasting experience of Ackerman Family Wines in what once was a carriage house, now a cut flagstone rustic tasting bar known as the Aviary. Mondavi fans take note: there’s an original painting of Robert is hanging in the Aviary.
A crisp, clean, mouthwatering Sauvignon Blanc with flinty minerality starts you off. Next, a Tuscan style Alavigna Tosca, an impressive blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, displays layers of raspberries and strawberries and cherries with warm spice notes of cloves and cinnamon. Their powerful and decadent flagship Cabernet Sauvignon is nothing short of pure refinement. You’ll find yourself savoring every drop.
Aviary Tasting: After a 30-minute tour, typically five wines of Ackerman and Lloyd Cellars are poured in the restored carriage house, tasting fee waived with case purchase.
Ackerman Family Vineyards Library Vertical Tasting: After a 30-minute tour, typically five wines poured, tasting fee waived with case purchase, or becoming a collector.
Food and Wine Experience with Chef Kelly: Chef Kelly Macdonald, a former chief of the Napa Valley Wine Train, prepares a 3-course meal served on gorgeous antique China, paired with the wines of Ackerman and Lloyd Cellars. Suggested for parties of 4+ guests. 9
Cooking Class with Janet Fletcher. Up to 14 guests—inquire for more details.
Afternoon Tea: One Sunday each month, 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm seatings.
Open: Daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm—by appointment
Location: 608 Randolph Street in downtown Napa, California
Contact: www.cellarpass.com or 855-238-9463
For an exclusive, next-level destination to taste some exquisite wine, look no further than Ackerman Heritage House. Thanks to Lauren’s vision, her painstakingly stunning renovation, and her dedication to creating truly refined wines, three words come to mind: One class act.