The Devil is in the Details
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If you ever read Marlowe or Goethe in a college English class, you know that the devil was stealing souls in Germany long before he moved on to Charlie Daniels in Georgia — the 16th century, in fact. The legend of Faust, AKA Dr. Faustus, is summoned in all its immersive, three-dimensional glory at Faust Haus, one of Napa Valley’s newest tasting rooms, and also one if its most compelling — home of Faust Wines, part of the Huneeus group of brands (also of Quintessa and Flowers fame).
I was able to visit the property in between pandemic closures, and I’m happy to report that Faust Haus will be opening again this Friday, January 29th for outdoor tastings by appointment only. The stakes are not as high as one’s soul, but they are nonetheless important. This is one of the most aesthetically driven tasting experiences to launch in recent memory, provocative (in the best way).
Gothically perched on a proverbial hill above St. Helena Highway, Faust Haus looks like something out of a Victorian melodrama as the sun sets. Built in 1870 in the classic architecture of the time, the exterior color is a saturated charcoal — as foreboding as it gets. But we all know what went on in these period houses; the Victorian era was one of the most raucous and carnal times in history, where external repression bred (as it always does) underground rebellion.
Faust Haus, like the wines its hosts graciously pour, posits itself at the locus of the paradox of pleasure and principle. The outdoor seating area is spacious and, interestingly, Modernist in style. It’s also as unpretentious a tasting experience as they come but with seriously world-class wines.
The core of Faust’s offerings originates in the Coombsville AVA, a tiny growing area south of downtown Napa and in the direct flow of the cool breezes off San Pablo Bay. Wines from the Coombsville AVA have a refreshing brightness and minerality not always found in Napa wines.
General manager Jen Beloz walked us through three wines: 2016 Faust The Hour (Merlot, Malbec, Syrah) and both the 2016 and 2017 The Pact Cabernet Sauvignons. As the names imply, the bottles tell stories — The Hour of a moment suspended in time, and The Pact, of a decision, a bargain, perhaps a distinct and confident direction.
The former is driven by dark fruit and spice tones, the latter two by mineral and sweet earth tones that support deep red fruit. Winemaker Dave Jelinek says he strives for “purity and character,” and these wines exhibit both.
Once the COVID restrictions are fully lifted, you’ll be able to go inside Faust Haus, where the two floors represent dark (lower) moving into light (upper). Radically different ambiances share a throughline of balanced, minimalist design, and each invokes the spirit of the realm it is designed to capture.
Book your outdoor tasting at the Faust Wines website as soon as you can.