In February we had the pleasure of returning to Napa, CA but the downside was that we only had two days to spend in the area. With so little time we decided to do Napa on Saturday and part of Sonoma on Sunday. Since Sonoma is so spread out we concentrated on Sonoma Valley wineries. My goal is to explore Healdsburg next when I have at least four days to spend tasting. Here are the highlights of the wineries we visited:
Day 1 Napa
*Provenance-this was our first time visiting and it was extremely busy. It took a while to get through our tasting as the staff seemed frazzled trying to get to everyone and keep track of where they were on their sheets. The Provenance wines were pretty good. Stand outs for me were the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
*Grgich Hills-I have had their wines at restaurants but had yet to make a pit stop to the tasting room in person. The staff was very friendly and welcoming. My favorite was their Cabernet Sauvignon.
*St Clement-this was a second visit for us and I have to say I really like the atmosphere there. The property is beautiful and you can enjoy a glass or two on the deck while enjoying the view. I love their Merlot and Oroppas and since they were running a case sale we were able to stock up on these.
*Mumm– I am a bubbly fanatic and this by far was the highlight of my day! I happen to love Mumm as the quality is excellent and the pricing is quite reasonable. A few years ago I served it for New Year’s. They definitely don’t skimp out on the sample sizes here as we each received three full sized glasses. I chose the DVX flight which included DVX black label 2006 and 2007 as well as DVX Rose 2008.
*Beau Vigne- a family run boutique winery with a tasting room in Yountville. They are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon. They offer two tasting options Grand Vin or Grand Cru. I chose the Grand Vin tasting of four different Cabs. The 2011 Soda Canyon, 2011 Romeo, and the 2011 CULT were all excellent.
Day 2 Napa/Sonoma Valley
*Castello di Amorosa– we stopped here right when they opened on our way to Sonoma as we were with friends who hadn’t been before and I think it’s a must see. The castle and grounds are spectacular and I love how the tasting is done in the cellar within the gift shop. It has a truly wonderful Medieval feel and makes for scenic photo opportunities. My top choices here are Gewurztraminer Dry, Gioya, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and my personal favorite La Fantasia, a sparkling red.
*Valley of the Moon-very pretty grounds and an open, airy tasting room made for a great first stop in Sonoma. They offered four different tasting options including a barrel tasting. I opted for the Valley of the Moon exclusive flight of five wines. The best in my opinion were the 2009 Sonoma Valley Sparkling Brut, 2010 Sonoma County Zinfandel, and the 2010 Sonoma Valley Estate Barbera.
*Ravenswood– here it’s all about the Zinfandels which I don’t seem to drink enough of anymore. I did my entire tasting strictly with Zins. My top pick was the 2011 Estate Zinfandel. Only 350 cases were produced. The motto here is ” no wimpy wines”. My motto: “drink more Zin”!
*Sebastiani– by the time we got here we were famished. I did a quick flight of five reserve wines before we grabbed a table in the warm sunshine for a picnic. Snacks such as cheese, crackers, and salami are available here for purchase. Highlights of the reserve tasting were the 2012 Steel Chardonnay, 2011 Robert’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.
*Buena Vista-this is California’s oldest winery founded in 1857. Hands down one of the best wines I have ever tasted is their Legendary Badge. I had this wine recently during my birthday dinner and will most likely write about this specifically in the near future. My friend was searching for Petite Sirah our entire trip and this red blend features it beautifully.
*Gundlach Bundschu or Gun Bun for short- Friends of ours are members of their wine club and recommended we add this to our itinerary. You can mix and match current releases to customize your tasting. I really like this format so that you don’t get stuck tasting varietals in your flight that you don’t care for. I loved the 2010 Merlot so much I had to bring some home with me!
*Nicholson Ranch-our final stop on our whirlwind weekend. We were so tired by this point we decided to just purchase a bottle of the 2007 Syrah and chill out on the deck. It was a perfect end to our long day of wine!
If you plan on visiting Napa I highly recommend the Vintage Inn in Yountville. The staff was very helpful with a problem with our rate and were quick to remedy the situation. Our room was one of the separate cottages with a fireplace. For dinner we ate at Redd Wood and my new Napa fav Bottega. My mouth is watering as I write this! California wine country never disappoints for great food, wine, and incredible scenery. I am already dreaming of my next visit!