Julio and Amalia Palmaz came from their native Argentina to California's U.C Davis for Dr. Palmaz's medical residency. To most of us for whom wine is the prescription of choice, UCD is, however, best known for its grape-growing and wine-making programs, so it's perhaps not surprising that while there the couple developed a serious addiction to California wines. Fast forward through Dr. Palmaz's invention of the cardiac stent and family's stint in San Antonio while he worked at the UT Health Science Center, and we arrive at the culmination of a dream: the return to California for the express purpose of making exceptional wines. This they have done with a vengeance at the family-run Palmaz Vineyards in eastern Napa Valley.
The winery, built upon the remains of a long-fallow property established in the late 1800s, has garnered as many glowing reviews for its facility as it has for the wines. The underground, gravity-flow operation, hewn from living rock, has been compared to Star Wars and James Bond films for its futuristic appealâ??though the notion of gravity flow to treat the grapes and young wines as gently as possible seems to be a timeless one. (It's worth a look at the winery's website, www.palmazvineyards.com for a more complete picture of both wines and winery.)
Amalia Palmaz, the winery's president, is returning to San Antonio on Thursday, April 15 to present the family's wines at a wine dinner to be held at the Westin La Cantera's Francesca's at Sunset. It's a unique opportunity to taste their wines (they make primarily cabernet and chardonnay), some of which retail for upwards of $150, in the restaurant's elegant setting. The six-course meal begins at 6:30 with a reception, and wine service under sommelier Steven Kreuger should be as impressive as the wines. The cost of the event is $110 plus tax and tip, and reservations may be had by calling 210-558-2253.