When I asked the owner of my local wine shop whether he would recommend any non-alcoholic wines on the market, he responded with one name only: Navarro. Navarro Vineyards' alcohol-free beverages are actually grape juices, rather than de-alcoholized wine, but unlike the grape juices you find in most grocery stores, these are hand-crafted from varietal grapes in Mendocino County. Navarro Vineyards' Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn began making grape juices for their children over 30 years ago at their Philo, California, winery, and earned a following among visiting kids, designated drivers, adults abstaining from alcohol, and restaurants like Chez Panisse. Made from quickly pressed, chilled, and filtered Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay grapes, the juices are prevented from fermenting and have no trace of alcohol.
Sampling the juices, I enjoyed the complexity of the Pinot Noir, lingering over the cherry, blackberry, and cinnamon notes in a way one could never do with plain old Welch's. I found it a little sweet to serve with dinner but the jammy flavor was a nice complement to creamy cheese. Even sweeter was the Gewürztraminer grape juice, which has notes of lychee and rose. I preferred it cut with sparkling water, and this would be lovely with a light brunch or dessert. The Gewürztraminer would also make a fantastic granita.
In addition to the drinking juices, Navarro makes an outstanding verjus from unripe grapes. With its tart, green apple flavor, Verjus is typically used in cooking, but it can also be mixed with sparkling water to make a refreshing "vintner's lemonade."
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
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