That was a statement I heard from a lady talking to her companion after meeting the gregarious Jim Prager of Prager Winery and Port Works. We entered a very quaint tasting room and retail shop, and everybody’s whispers could be shared by the room, because there was very little space to be by your self. The building if by design or just outgrowth was a very eclectic hodge-podge of wine and everything else. Everywhere you looked there were coins, tokens and currency from world-wide visitors to this establishment.
He may have looked like an old hippy, but to me he personified the individualism of the winemakers and the dreamers of an early Napa Valley. To have the dedication and desire to create Port wines in the classic style requires time, patience and the economic ability to achieve these hopes.
There were signs that said “Our wines are only sold at the winery and can be shipped.” A true maverick who enjoyed being with his customers to regale them with stories of his artistry and his individualism. The day that we were there he was pouring a ’95 Cabernet Sauvignon, a ’94 Aria White Port, a “Summer Port,” a ’95 Royal Escort Vintage Port, a Noble Companion Ten Year Old Tawny Port, a ’97 Sweet Claire (a late harvest Johannisberg Riesling) and a ’94 La Croix Zinfandel. He also had for sale his Prager Chocolate Drizzle, Mousse Balls and a large selection of quality cigars that would be perfect with a Port wine.
As the owner and the winemaker, he was very proud of his products. The “Summer Port” was in celebration of his twentieth anniversary. His Royal Escort was his fifth “vintage’ Port in twenty years made from Petite Sirah grapes. His Noble Companion Ten Year Old Port was made from Cabernet Sauvignon and he claimed that he made it to be enjoyed with a good cigar. The Sweet Claire was a classic late harvest dessert wine, and his Zinfandel was a well aged unpretentious wine that he produced for casual dining. As I said he was very gregarious and loved to talk about his goods, as it should be. Looking at our purchase log of this trip we ended up with two mixed cases that had the Royal Escort, Noble Companion, Aria, Sweet Claire and the Cabernet Sauvignon. From the tasting, these are the wines that we enjoyed the most.
A couple of years later, our friends that we went to Napa Valley with on this trip, returned for another vacation and brought us a beautiful laser-etched and painted bottle of Sweet Claire.