SF: Taking Y’all Inside Kathryn Hall’s Texas Style Release Party

Kathryn Walt Hall signs a bottle of her 97-point
Kathryn Walt Hall signs a bottle of her 97-point

Photo Credit: Kelly E. Carter

You can take Kathryn Walt Hall out of Texas but you can’t take the Texas out of the vintner who spent many years in Dallas before she returned to her native California to make great wine. Walt Hall showed true Southern hospitality at the “It’s Kathryn Hall Y’all” 2012 Kathryn Hall Release Party releasing the 2012 vintage of its flagship Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon on Sept. 12 at HALL Wines St. Helena.

Nearly 700 oenophiles converged on the grounds for the three-hour bash that began at 11 a.m. Guests received bandanas upon arrival, noshed on farm-to-table bites, western style by Feast Catering, took scenic hayrides through the vineyard on a luxurious horse drawn carriage with leather bench seating, kicked up their spurs to the country band Twang Ditty and, of course, enjoyed the delicious new wine, which award-winning Director of Winemaking Steve Leveque should be quite proud of considering the cab received 97 points from Robert Parker.

“2012 is one of the most exciting vintages this Valley has seen in a decade,” Walt Hall says. “We are thrilled with how Steve and his winemaking team have consistently crafted this wine each year, maximizing each vintage to produce the best possible result. This is truly the best fruit Napa has to offer.”

On the Great Lawn, in addition to the starring wine of the day being poured, 2014 HALL Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 WALT “Blue Jay” Pinot Noir, 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 HALL “Coeur” Cabernet Sauvignon were offered—in Riedel stemware, of course.

“This is my favorite wine,” Walt Hall said of her namesake beverage as she addressed her guests, who were thrilled with the amount of Arctic Cove misters around to keep them cool.

From the food stations, attendees devoured bbq sliders, grilled corn, baked beans, chips and salsa, Texas gulf shrimp, grits, grilled steak tacos, whole pig on spit, potato salad, tortilla soup shooters and tomatoes before servers passed dessert. At the selfie station, guests could put on cowboy hats before snapping of themselves.

The always elegant and gracious Walt Hall, a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, signed wine bottles, posed for photos with her admirers and yukked it up with the rest of the revelers, who were overheard expressing their appreciativeness of Walt Hall and her husband Craig Hall being cognizant of the environment. Their vineyard collection features five Certified Organic estates that produce classic Bordeaux varietals and the HALL St. Helena winery was the first LEED® Gold Certified Winery in the State of California in 2009 and earned another LEED® Gold certification for its high tech production facility and modern tasting room in 2014, making HALL pioneers in the use of green buildings for the wine industry.

Before the main event began, Walt Hall also was on hand for a rare Vertical Tasting hosted by Leveque in the historic Bergfeld building for a privileged group of aficionados. That exclusive experience included a tasting flight of Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon (vintages 2007 – 2012, including the 2008 that earned #2 of the “Top 100” Wines in Wine Spectator), the interesting and educational backstory of each vintage from Leveque and a chance for wine enthusiasts to ask him questions. But no matter how attendees tried rephrasing a question to have him pick his favorite vintage, the wise winemaker wouldn’t do it.

Photography by Vi Bottaro and Kelly E. Carter