Kira Devitt, the director of marketing for the Napa Valley Wine Train, admits she might be one of the few people in her office indifferent to sports. Perhaps that also qualifies her as the best available critic for the train’s Championship Wine Flight featuring choices with NFL-inspired labels.
“I’m not a huge sports fan myself,” she says, reeling off a list of co-workers who are. “So I drink these wines just to drink these wines, and they’re delicious.”
With the Super Bowl coming to the California Bay Area on February 7 for the first time since 1985, the Wine Train decided to create a flight with pigskin roots. The four wines are: The 2014 vintage Mirror Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley by former quarterback Rick Mirer, who was the second overall pick in the 1993 draft and currently co-owns the winery. The pale, yellow wine has aromas of orange blossom that lead to ripe white peach and lemon zest, with a hint of melon. Lemon zest and cantaloupe are accented by nuances of peach, with grapefruit lingering on the finish. Former coach Dick Vermeil, who won Super Bowl XXXIV with signal caller Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams, supplies the next two options: A 2014 Russian River Chardonnay that’s clear and straw colored, with subdued scents of citrus and oak, and a creamy texture. Oil viscosity balances flavors of baked lemon tart, vanilla, and hints of toasty oak; and the XXXIV Proprietary Red Napa Valley, which is purple-black in appearance with black currant aromas. Extracted flavors of smoky cassis and black cherries, menthol, licorice, and tobacco leaf serve as undertones. The final option, which Devitt says she’s noticed gaining popularity around the region, belongs to Oakland Raiders’ safety Charles Woodson, who also won the 1997 Heisman Trophy as a two-way star for Michigan. His 2008 TwentyFour Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley has plum, blackberry, and ripe cherry flavors that give way to a soft vanilla oak finish.
When the promotion was first introduced in early November, Devitt says they weren’t sure how guests would react. They printed out a limited number of flights and ended up scrambling to produce more when guests kept ordering the $20 option. “We were thinking about how we wanted to celebrate the Super Bowl coming to the Bay Area. And we’re in wine region, so what better way to celebrate the Super Bowl than with wine from people that are from the NFL?” Devitt explains.
Customers can also order off a full menu during the 36-mile trip from Napa to St. Helena, traversing past vineyards on the original rail line built in 1964. There aren’t specific food pairings suggested for this flight, but there are plenty of options to fit anyone’s palate.
In addition, $1 from every flight will be donated to the NFL Hall of Fame Players Foundation, which Devitt says honors the overall spirit of the event.
“I think it will only gain in popularity as we get closer [to the game],” she says. “I think people are only going to get more and more excited, and we hope they come celebrate with us, and have a chance to enjoy some really, really good wines.”