It's official....today Southwest Florida residents can experience a Napa-style wine tasting room without traveling cross country. Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant opens its southernmost location to the public on US4 in North Naples, between Wiggins Pass and Immokalee Road.
I got a sneak peak last week and met CEO and Founder Tim McEnery who said his expansion in Naples has created more buzz than any other new location opening to date. Perhaps it's the midwest connection; the company's origins are in Illinois.
While I didn't get to try much of the food, the menu looks inviting with a range of gourmet selections such as Asian pork belly tostadas, comfort foods like spaghetti and meatballs and healthful options the likes of Mediterranean salad with shrimp. This menu was specifically designed to reach a wide range of palates and cover all demographics and it works according to McEnery.
The thing that appeals to me most is the fact that each dish is matched with a Cooper's Hawk's wine for the perfect pairing of flavors.
The wines also cover a wide range to appeal to both the average wine drinker as well as those who have more discerning palates.
The grapes are mostly domestic, shipped to the winery in Illinois for crushing, fermenting and bottling. The tastings start at $7 for eight selections. I preferred the wines in the second tier LUX tasting ($12). The LUX Pinot Noir has even won some awards.
The sparkling rose is made from syrah and chardonnay, methode champenoise, and has that bit of yeast you would expect. I also tried the sparkling Blanc de Blanc which was served at the 2008 Presidential Inauguration. It was peachy, floral and a bit more sweet.
I was most interested in trying the special barrel blend after being tempted by the tap on our tour. It was my favorite of the tasting; a bit of funk on the nose, oak, spice and a bit of perfume. If you like bolder wines be sure to try.
I did step out of my comfort zone by sampling the Rhubarb wine. I don't have much experience with rhubarb other than some hard candies I've tried over the years. As suspected, the wine was sweet, maybe good for dessert with strawberry pie or shortcake.
The stand alone tasting room and restaurant is 11,000 square feet with floor to ceiling windows designed to bring the outdoors in and if you really want to be outdoors, there is a terrace. It's not just about wine as Cooper's Hawk also has a full bar inside.
Upon entering you are greeted by a large retail shop with all kinds of cool accessories along with shelves of wine. The tasting bar is fun for both groups and individuals wanting to learn more about wine, the Cooper's Hawk brand.
And if you like the brand, you can join the wine club where for as little as $18.99 a month you'll receive a bottle of your choosing, invites to special events and other perks.
Welcome to the hood Cooper's Hawk. Cheers.