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Spring into the Livermore Valley!

February 28, 2017 | Erica Kaplan

Spring into the great weather and use those extra hours of sunlight to plan a trip to the serene Livermore Valley! We are helping you make the most of the warmer days by finding you the best local venues and events the Livermore Valley has to offer during the month of March.

Spend the weekend by yourself or with some friends enjoying Livermore’s award winning wineries and beautiful Northern California terrain to defrost from the winter with a glass of wine and an exceptional mini vacation! These seven gems offer the best quality that the Livermore Valley has to offer:

Cuda Ridge Wines
Located in the heart of the Livermore Valley wine region, Cuda Ridge Wines proudly produces Bordeaux-style wines that combine both the California culture with a taste of Southern France. The small family-owned winery takes the time to carry on the tradition with wines of intense complexity and world-class, award-winning flavors. You’ll feel like part of the family in the hospitable tasting room surrounded by vineyards and olive trees.

Fenestra Winery
"Fenestra" is Latin for "window," and Fenestra Winery is the window to the Livermore Valley. Housed in a historic Ruby Hill property, Fenestra is the region’s first boutique winery and a popular destination for wine lovers who enjoy the relaxed, country ambiance while they taste the award-winning wines and picnic along the creek. The winery celebrates many years of fine wine made with primarily handpicked Livermore Valley grapes.

Garré Vineyard & Winery
Surrounded by beautiful scenery, Garré Vineyard & Winery boasts not only a portfolio of Sparkling, Italian, and other wines, but also award-winning cuisine and elegant wedding venues. The grounds capture the culture of old Italy with a bocce court and a café offering lunch daily and dinner on the weekends. Feel part of the intimacy with friends and family for a wine tasting that never disappoints. Share in Garré Vineyard’s toast of "a glass from the past, a toast to the future". 

Las Positas Vineyards
Situated on 30 acres of property, Las Positas Vineyards is a unique venue that shares in a passion for wine and rich heritage of the Livermore Valley. One taste is all that’s needed of the novice and oenophile wines to see the character and integrity in every glass. For some excitement, evening in the Vineyards Concert Series runs May through October to satisfy both the ears and palate.

Livermore Valley Wine Trolley
Livermore Wine Trolley is the newest way to explore and experience wineries located in the Livermore Valley! Climb aboard and enjoy a tour of this premier wine region, home to more than 50 wineries. A ride on the high quality all-inclusive trolley provides a one-of-a-kind experience as you pass lush rolling hills, picturesque canyons, vast vineyards, scenic golf courses, active downtown, and intimate wineries who pride themselves in hospitality. 

Nottingham Cellars
The mission to craft world-class wines from famed vineyards in the Livermore Valley and Arroyo Seco and offer them to the world is the driving force at Nottingham Cellars. Led by one of the valley’s youngest winemakers, the winery promotes quality and the integrity of the region. Nottingham Cellars boasts three different brands, each designed to honor the potential and history of the Livermore Valley. The wine tasting room is an ideal place to enjoy a tasting flight at the bar, or enjoy a glass of wine on the patio or among the barrels in the cellar. 

Steven Kent Winery
The Steven Kent Winery is dedicated to crafting exceptional Bordeaux wines. Winemaker Steven Kent Mirassou takes pride in the past and future to continually set the bar high and exceed expectations while still holding on to tradition. The Barrel Room offers daily wine tastings Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals, and the Reserve Room offers samplings of the most limited collectors’ wines. The Steven Kent Winery belongs on the “don’t miss” list for lovers of stellar Cabernet.

After you’ve visited these gems, top off the month of March at the Barrels, Bottles, & Brews on March 25 and 26. The event brings Livermore Valley’s wineries, craft breweries, and artisan distilleries together to take part in a fun-filled weekend celebrating quality and quantity. Amateurs and aficionados alike will discover the quality, attention and care dedicated to crafting all of these great beverages. Purchase your tickets to gain a new appreciation for the beverage scene and be a part of a rewarding experience.

Sonoma Valley Is An Ideal Place To Say I Love You

February 10, 2017 | Wendy Van Diver

February is a month of love and romance and there’s no better way to observe it than by taking a romantic trip to wine country. Sonoma Valley is a mecca for the senses and a pastoral slice of paradise just 45 miles north of San Francisco. Offering a historic legacy and a leadership role in sustainable tourism, Sonoma Valley is an ideal place to say “I love you”.

We suggest you start with choosing the right accommodation to fit your style and budget and Sonoma Valley features no shortage of choices. From high-end RV Parks to 5-star luxury resorts Sonoma Valley offers the full spectrum. Here is our short list of Sonoma Valley accommodations:

Petaluma KOA
If fresh air and scenery are your top priority, we recommend Petaluma KOA. Rated one of the Top RV campgrounds in California, this beautiful 70-acre property offers 312 RV sites and the best in family and big rig RV camping, just minutes away from Sonoma wineries. Guided tours of Sonoma wineries depart daily from KOA from May to October. On-property amenities include: a rec room, rock wall, pool and spa, and live weekend entertainment.

Sonoma Valley Inn
For an ideal proximity to the historic Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma Valley Inn is just steps away. Besides a coveted location, this family-owned property is absolutely lovely. It’s designed around a serene garden courtyard and features a heated saltwater pool, steam room, and covered hot tub. The rooms are appointed with romantic touches including wood burning fireplaces and private balconies or patios. Sonoma Carneros Barn House If you’re looking for something that feels just like home, check out the

Sonoma Carneros Barn House
This ideal Sonoma vacation rental features a modern, two-story barn design and offers two spacious master suites, a fully stocked chef’s kitchen, outdoor area for alfresco dining, and much more!

Flamingo Resort & Spa
This iconic hotel is as romantic as the day it opened. It’s a glamourous historic landmark ideally situated between Sonoma Valley wineries and downtown Santa Rosa. The resort offers 170 newly remodeled rooms and suites, two pools, an 8,000-square-foot health club, and a full service spa. Plus, there’s great entertainment including live music, dancing, and a Sunday Champagne Brunch.

MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa
There’s a wonderful hideaway just blocks from Sonoma Plaza called MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa. The property is tucked into seven beautifully landscaped acres in a landscaped setting of hedges and serene gardens. Once a magnificent 19th century estate, it is now an award winning enchanting oasis.

Once you’ve decided where to stay, you can turn your attention to the dozens of Sonoma Valley wineries waiting to host you. Here are our top suggestions:

Schug Carneros Estate
This family owned and operated winery is just southwest of town. Known for their elegant European-style Pinot Noir, the winery also produces superb Bordeaux varietals. Guests can choose to sample wines in the tasting room or take a self-guided vineyard tour.

Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery
Located on the corner of Sonoma Plaza in the historic Mission Hardware building, Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery offers guests a complimentary tasting and a wealth of knowledge and casual congeniality.

Larson Family Winery
Located in Carneros, the winery was once home to the largest rodeo in Northern California. The winery blends the family’s passion for winemaking with a fun loving country lifestyle. There’s intriguing memorabilia and a captivating mural the barn-turned-tasting room. All family members (including canines) are welcome.

In addition to considering the wineries on Sonoma Valley’s extensive list, visit heartofsonomavalley.com. Here you will find information on 28 amazing wineries offering world class wines, barrel tastings, food and wine pairings, winemaker tastings, and more all within minutes of the Sonoma Plaza. It’s also a fantastic resource for event information and wine trail passes.

If you are having trouble coming up with your own itinerary, hiring a knowledgeable, personal guide is a great option. Jill Leone created Leone Wine Tours to show visitors a variety of Sonoma Valley’s wineries and other attractions while they sit back and relax in a luxury vehicle. She can personalize a custom tour just for you. Beyond wineries, what are some of Sonoma Valley’s great attractions?

Quarryhill Botanical Garden
This woodland garden is cradled in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains and features more than 20,000 plants of wild origin in a natural setting. Follow the winding gravel paths set amongst exotic shaded trees and tranquil ponds and enjoy the flora along the way.

The Olive Press
A great addition to your wine tasting itinerary is olive oil tasting. Visit Sonoma County’s first and the nation’s most award winning olive mill, the Olive Press. Located at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, the Olive Press offers an array of enticing samples.

Cornerstone Sonoma
This wine country marketplace set among stunning gardens is ideal for world-class shopping, wine and spirit tastings, artisanal foods, local art, and more. The marketplace also offers seasonal classes, unique event venues and is home to Sunset Magazine’s Test Gardens and Outdoor Test Kitchen.

As you see, there is plenty to do and fall in love with in the Sonoma Valley. We hope you’ll plan to stay for several days to take it all in. Start planning your romantic getaway today!

One Last Wine Country Memory for 2016

December 13, 2016 | Camille Rutherford

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the year and the memories created.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t more memories to be made!  Before you close the book on 2016, let this list be your inspiration to create one last wine country memory—one to last a lifetime!  Or just an excuse to drink some good wine and maybe pick up some last minute gifts along the way!

Anaba Wines—Sonoma Valley, CA
Known for their 5-star tasting experiences, Anaba hosts a wide range of enlightening wine education experiences at their charming tasting room throughout the year.  These seminars highlight the winery’s passion for being earth-friendly.  Anaba is very proud of the fact that they were the first winery in Northern California to utilize wind power. Not only does the harnessed wind power create energy for the tasting room, offices and irrigation pumps but for car charging stations too!  As you enjoy their delicious wines, you feel good knowing that Anaba takes great care in preserving the ground and earth where they came from.

Beringer Vineyards—Napa Valley, CA
The beauty of Beringer Vineyards is evident in the wines and fully realized when visiting its historic grounds in the Napa Valley. As the first winery in the valley to offer public tours, they have mastered the art of hospitality.  Beringer offers a one-stop experience where one can be fully immersed in every aspect of the Napa Valley wine country experience.  From Private Reserve tastings to their Legacy Cave Tour, a customized experience is available with an advance appointment.

Huge Bear Wines—Napa Valley, CA
Located in the converted, historic Calistoga National Bank, Huge Bear Wines takes pride in preserving the history and folklore of the building that hosts them.  Even their labels tell the story of the rogue bear whose fight for independence inspired the California state mascot—hence the name “Huge Bear Wines.”  This sense of historical pride trickles down through everything Huge Bear Wines does.  From the great care shown in their winemaking to their appointment-only Vault Tasting, every guest leaves with a new appreciation for the history and passion involved in the winemaking process.  Visit Huge Bear this December to help celebrate their new releases!

Silverado Resort and Spa—Napa Valley, CA
A stay at the Silverado Resort and Spa will rejuvenate all of your senses.  Indulge in a luxurious spa treatment including seasonal specials like the Pumpkin Soufflé Body Wrap then take a dip in one of the 10 swimming pools.  Afterwards, dine at the Grill or Mansion Lounge where the sommelier will assist you in choosing the most palate pleasing wine to complement your meal.  If you are looking for something more energizing, play a round at one of their two PGA championship golf courses or a set at one of the 13 tennis courts!  And if your senses are not fully piqued among the 1,200 resort acres, go off property to one of the many wineries close by—a concierge will be happy to help create the perfect itinerary.  December is an ideal time to book your trip as the Resort is currently offering an array of packages.

Sterling Vineyards—Napa Valley, CA
Perched 300 feet above the town of Calistoga, Sterling Vineyards offers panoramic views of the Napa Valley.  Access to the winery’s entrance is achieved by a stunning gondola ride through the treetops.  If that’s not exhilarating enough, the winery’s Greek inspired architecture and beautiful bell towers are sure to impress!  The striking scenery is only to be matched by Sterling’s award-winning wine portfolio including its critically acclaimed 2012 Reserve Chardonnay and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  During the winter months, Sterling Vineyards offers the Winter Silver Experience.  For just $39 per person, guests will enjoy two current releases in the lower portion of the winery then with special access to the upper portion, enjoy two limited releases while viewing the Sterling Art Collection including original pieces from Picasso, Chagall, Renior, Frasconi and rare Ansel Adams. 

V. Sattui Winery & Italian Marketplace—Napa Valley, CA
V. Sattui is all about pleasing the palate! Food is king at the winery’s Italian Marketplace where tempting picnic fare is made fresh daily.  It is strongly advised to pick your picnic first and then move to the lawn where you can pair your spread with some of V. Sattui’s excellent wines.  Once you’ve had your fill, stroll through the winery’s charming grounds—reminiscent of an Italian village. If you prefer a more customized experience, make an appointment for a tasting in the Gold Room for a sit-down, food paired tasting in the elegant cellar cave.

Lodi, CA
Situated south of Sacramento and West of the Sierra Nevada Lodi, California is a delightful region of over 100,000 acres of vineyards built upon ancient vines that are as old as 130 years.  Steeped in a multigenerational family-farming culture, Lodi has become a beacon for exceptional wineries, restaurants and is a true California gem!  The region offers a diverse portfolio of wines including: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and other exciting varietals such as Albariño, Tempranillo, Graciano and Vermentino, plus many others.  Since the climate is mild, December is the perfect month to visit and try some of the region’s award winning wines and perhaps even partake in an event or two!  During the month of December Lodi will host a variety of holiday themed events from the traditional Nutcracker ballet to the town’s annual Holiday Golf Cart Parade.

Lodi Vintners—Lodi, CA
Although Lodi Vintners charming tasting room is one of the region’s newest, it is located on the site of the region’s oldest operating winery which dates back to 1900.  Designed as a custom crush facility and immersed in fascinating winemaking techniques, including giant concrete fermentation tanks, visitors to Lodi Vintners are assured not only something new to sample but something new to experience.  The winery offers a variety of wine events and educational seminars held throughout the year including their annual grape stomp! 

Mettler Family Vineyards—Lodi, CA
Through eight generations in the grape growing industry, Mettler Family Vineyards has cultivated an unrivaled kinship with the earth.  As stewards of the soil, the Mettlers have chosen to run their farm as both sustainable and certified organic. This earth friendly attitude is evident in every aspect of the vineyard including their “must-see” tasting room which is nestled in the center of their 25 acres of vineyards.  Arriving guests at Mettler enter a secluded world of lushly landscaped grounds and the friendliest of staff. Mettler is known for hosting several events throughout the year including regular painting parties paired with their best wines. 

Peltier Winery—Lodi, CA
Known as an innovative, cutting-edge crush facility, guests of Peltier Winery will find no shortage of impressive wines or reasons to return.  Now is an exciting time to visit the winery at their temporary pop-up tasting room where one can share in the excitement of building a new winemaking facility.  While there, try one of their hy-brid wines born from the revolutionary winemaking process that combines highly advanced technology with environmentally sustainable winegrowing principles.  Be sure to make an appointment in advance to get the full experience!

Kick Off Your Holiday Season Right!

November 11, 2016 | Camille Rutherford

Kick Off Your Holiday Season Right! The Holiday Season is a great time to relax and explore new wineries across the US. After a fantastic and exciting harvest season, the holiday festivities are ready to begin! There are endless events and locations to explore. This list is the perfect guide to wine country events, tastings and places to stay to get the most out of your holiday season!

Elizabeth Chambers Cellar - Willamette Valley, OR
Elizabeth Chamber Cellars is an excellent winery to visit this holiday season. Their tasting room is located in their newly renovated historic power plant building. Originally built in 1926, the brick building maintains the industrial feel of its previous incarnation, yet has been updated for its new role to give guests a warm welcome. Acquaint yourself with their 92-point signature blend, a collection of renowned single vineyard Pinot Noirs, and classic Willamette Valley Pinot Gris during one of their tastings. Visit today or request a private event for an unforgettable experience anytime of the year!

Le Puy A Wine Valley Inn - Willamette Valley, OR
With spectacular views of Chehalem Ridge and peeks at the Coastal Range, Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson, the views from Le Puy will take your breath away! Host to eight unique guest rooms inspired by nature such as fire, mountain and air, every aspect of this inn has been well thought out and designed to give their guests the most memorable experience possible. Stay the night and receive a complementary breakfast made from the best ingredients or come visit for one of their tasting or hiking packages. Whichever experience you desire, a visit to Le Puy will accommodate you with an exceptional experience.

Beau Wine Tours - Napa and Sonoma, CA
Whether you are touring Napa Valley or Sonoma County, Beau Wine Tours is sure to guarantee a fantastic experience. Treat yourself to a luxurious tour this holiday season and let one of Beau Wine Tour’s knowledgeable chauffeurs escort you through wine country and introduce you to some award winning wineries. Take advantage of their Harvest Special- a six or eight-hour wine tour for up to twelve people in one of their luxurious Sprinter Limousines!

Ledson Winery & Vineyards and Ledson Hotel—Sonoma, CA
Emerging like a gothic blast from the past out of acres of rolling vineyards and pastoral calm, the 16,000 square foot French Normandy winery is known as "The Castle" around the world. Visit “the Castle,” and receive a tour showcasing the sweeping staircases, marble fireplaces, cathedral-style windows, coffered ceilings and several tasting bars as you sip from their specialized wines hand-crafted in small lots reflecting Sonoma Valley’s uniquely diverse terroir. The month of November is the perfect time to visit this wine country standout as that’s when they host their annual Holiday Open House. Savor the tradition and holiday cheer as you sip award winning wine and shop at their Gourmet Market place of fine wine, sauces, mustards and olive oils. After you’ve had your fill, stay the night at the Ledson Hotel located just a short drive away in the Historic Sonoma Plaza. With an antique grandeur and modern amenities combined with personalized service, the Ledson Hotel provides the perfect compliment to the Ledson experience!

Etude Wines - Napa, CA
Visit Etude Wines for their Holiday Open House on December 10th to toast the joys of the season. Etude specializes in a selection of white and two classic red varietals—Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, they offer an incredible “Study of Pinot Noir” experience offering six Pinot Noirs from six distinct growing areas including Etude’s Estate Vineyards in Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Willamette Valley and Santa Barbara County all made by Etude winemaker, Jon Priest. Reservations required. What a lovely way to toast the holiday season!

Jamieson Ranch Vineyards - Napa, CA
When you need a break from the holiday frenzy, slip away to Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. Easily accessible at the gateway to Napa Valley, you can recharge your spirit with one of their many food and wine pairing experiences. Let their renowned Estate Chef, Scott Ekstrom and their expert winemaker, Juan Jose Verdina show of their talents and delight your palate! The natural beauty of the ranch and the sweeping vistas will make you want to linger for the day and return again and again—long after the holiday season!

Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards - Lodi, CA
If you are a white or rosé enthusiast, Acquiesce Winery and Vineyards is the perfect location to visit. Made from the best Rhône varietals, and vines sourced from the famed Château de Beaucastel of Châteauneuf du Pape, France, the wines show a timeless elegance fused with great fruit expression. With awards such as a Gold Medal in Sunset Magazine’s International Wine Competition, their methods have proven successful. Located in the Lodi Appellation of California, Acquiesce’s 18 acres of wine grapes make for the most amazing view as you sip their award winning wines. Visit their 100 year-old converted barn tasting room to get the full experience!

Macchia - Lodi, CA
Macchia’s “Military” Fall Release Party on November 19th and 20th is the event to be at this holiday season. Listen to live music provided by Big Booty Bob and the Backside Kickers as you receive an exclusive barrel tasting of their 2016 handcrafted wines. With picnics, games and vendors spread throughout their beautiful location in Lodi, California, the fun never ends! Try their “Adventurous” Zinfandel, “Righteous” Barbera, and “Dangerous” Port from the finest grapes possible from one of California’s most prestigious wine growing regions.

Las Positas Vineyards - Livermore, CA
Located in Livermore, California, Las Positas Vineyards is a family winery that produces small lots of estate grown wines with unique character and exceptional quality. Create the perfect event to include on your next trip to the wine country with one of their pairings complete with: cheese, chocolate truffles and cheesecake cupcakes! Experience Gold Medal wines such as their 2015 Estate Rosé or their 2015 Verdelho in a beautiful setting. All of this and more is waiting for you at Las Positas Vineyards

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines - Paso Robles, CA
With an extensive collection of wines and gift packages, two visits to one of J. Lohr’s estates can never be the same. Founded in 1972, J. Lohr has a rich history with years of experience. Visit their location in Paso Robles, California, and you and will see how exceptional of a wine brand they truly are. With events from October to December ranging from Vineyard Wine Dinners, Vintage Library Tastings, Holiday Feasts, and wine and food pairings, there is an event for everyone this holiday season. With countless awards for exceptional wine, the experience is guaranteed to excite.

Harvest Season is Here!

October 1, 2016 | Camille Rutherford

Wine country is bustling this time of year! Harvest season is in full swing and while that means a lot of work for the winemakers—it translates into a lot of fun for wine enthusiasts! From exclusive tastings and winemaker dinners to harvest festivals and so much more, harvest season truly is the ultimate time to visit wine country. Read on to learn more about some of northern California’s best places to visit to gain the full harvest season experience!

Livermore Valley—CA
With a history dating back to the Spanish missionaries in the 1760’s, Livermore Valley has a colorful history!  Today the valley’s history is steeped in wine and, in fact, it was awarded America’s first international gold medal for wine in 1889.  Just 45 minutes over the Golden Gate Bridge and easily accessible by car, train or BART Livermore Valley beckons visitors and local northern California residents alike.  Besides its 40 plus wineries throughout its picturesque canyons and peaks, the valley has an array of charming towns and an assortment of outdoor activities.  There truly is something for everyone in the Livermore Valley so… check it out!

Cedar Mountain Winery & Port Works—Livermore, CA
This boutique winery specializes in handcrafted small lot table wines and ports produced from Livermore Valley grapes.  The location’s rolling hills and vistas beckon visitors to linger on its grounds and enjoy a fantastic port paired with their favorite cheese.  The owners believe that quality wines are born in the vineyard and invite wine lovers to visit and taste what they mean.

Wente Vineyards—Livermore, CA 
Wente Vineyards remains the nation’s oldest continuously family-owned and-operated winery.  And when one visits Wente, they feel like they too become part of the family!  Beyond the traditional tasting room, the Wente family heartily embraces each guest with gracious hospitality through a world-class restaurant, outdoor concert venue, 18-hole championship golf course and the Winemakers Studio.  It is literally a campus dedicated to sharing the art of winemaking!  During the month of October, they host their annual Winemaker’s Dinner—a can’t miss four course meal paired with award winning wines. 

LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards—Lodi, CA
Located north of the city of Lodi amidst the family vineyards, the winery offers visitors the opportunity to have a true grape-to-glass experience in its new tasting room, the Press Room.  Tucked beneath an elevated crush pad, the Press Room’s awe-inspiring entrance features a stunning concrete and stainless water feature.  Once inside, guests are welcome to wander through the cellar and taste from a large portfolio of estate, reserve and single barrel wines.  It is recommended to make an appointment for an in-depth tour of the industrial facility where the winery makes the most environmentally friendly wine possible.  And during the month of October, LangeTwins is host to the annual Sacramento Cyclocross event—a day of wine and bike racing!

Harney Lane Winery—Lodi, CA
To experience the Lodi legacy firsthand, join Harney Lane Winery on an intimate one-hour grape to glass tour where guests can wander the grounds and discover the love behind every bottle of Harney Lane Wine.  For more than one hundred years, the Mettler family farmed the 100-acre parcel that is Harney Lane.  But it wasn’t until 2006 that they decided to venture into winemaking.  Since then, their hard work and dedication has paid off as just in those seven short years, the winery has developed a portfolio of unique, memorable estate varietals.  This October, the winery welcomes you to join them for their 2nd Annual Harvest Cookout where you can join in the celebration of their bountiful harvest!

Materra |Cunat Family Vineyards—Napa, CA
The new winery architecture at Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards is a sight to be seen!  The floor of the library room is made of clear glass where guests can look down onto the soil of the vineyard.  Even the restrooms are so unique that guests have asked to have their tastings there!  And it’s not just the architecture that sets Materra | Cunat apart, it’s the wines themselves.  Through their heartfelt blending and growing process, the winery has produced some exceptional vintages including the 2011 Howell Mountain Cabernet Savuignon which received 90 points from Wine & Spirits.  Three different tasting options are offered and appointments must be made in advance so that each tour can truly be a one-of-a-kind experience! 

Stags’ Leap Winery—Napa, CA
A reservation is required for a Historical Tour & Tasting at the estate of Stags’ Leap Winery but it is well worth it.  The estate is a magical place and the wines are divine.  The tour showcases the natural beauty and history of the buildings and gardens that populate the sprawling estate’s grounds.  Beyond the breathtaking views, the focal point of the estate is the old stone Manor House—originally built in 1892.  There are a variety of tours to choose from including the Ne Cede Malis Vineyard Tour and Tasting where guests learn about viticulture and fermentation processes and their impact on the resulting wine.  At the end of this tour, participants have a private Petite Sirah-focused tasting.

Castello di Amorosa—Calistoga, CA
Inspired by his Italian heritage and in need of a place to showcase his exceptional wines, Dario Sattui created Castello di Amorosa—a 136,000 square-foot fortress built stone by stone to look like an authentic medieval castle.  The castle even features authentic elements such as a drawbridge, moat, a church and secret passageways.  This unique fortress sets the stage for the winery’s classically structured and intensely flavored handcrafted wine.  The winery offers a myriad of ways for guests to enjoy their visit including tours of the castle and private tastings.  It truly seems like there is always something happening at Castello di Amorosa and October is no exception as that’s when they host their annual Pagan Ball—a Halloween lovers dream or maybe nightmare...?

Fountaingrove Inn and the Steakhouse at Equus—Santa Rosa, CA
On the grounds of a late 1870’s commune that produced 90 percent of the region’s wine stands an old Round Barn circa 1899.  The barn is now a gateway to the Fountaingrove Inn and Steakhouse at Equus.  Close to famed Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valley appellations, this wine country retreat is the ideal location for leisure and business guests alike.  The Steakhouse at Equus is a not to be missed dinning experience with a world class wine list and the restaurant’s new menu which features old favorites and showcases premium meats.  With 124 guestrooms and suites, unique architecture, and a dedication to their guests, Fountaingrove Inn is truly the perfect home-away-from-home for anyone traveling to Sonoma Wine Country!

Chateau St. Jean—Kenwood, CA
Reminiscent of those found in the South of France, the gardens at Chateau St. Jean are considered some of Sonoma County’s most beautiful.  Sit at a bench or table scattered throughout the property’s meticulously manicured lawns and enjoy a picnic and a glass of one of their exceptional quality wines.  Guests are encouraged to make an appointment for one of the Distinctive Experiences at Chateau St. Jean including the foodie friendly Charcuterie at the Chateau.  This tasting pours four single vineyard and reserve wines paired with local bites.  On October 16, Chateau St. Jean is host to a complementary Wine Club Pick Up Party where guest can enjoy wine, food and live music.

Fall is Full of Excitement!

September 13, 2016 | Camille Rutherford

As Summer is coming to a close, it’s time to start planning for the Fall! For these wine country destinations Fall is full of excitement as they prepare for the harvest of 2016. Come explore these rustic, unique, and beautiful destinations for any holiday, or even just a weekend getaway. See what they have to offer this harvest season!  

Eleven Eleven Wines—Napa, CA 
Eleven Eleven Wines was born out of a series of synchronized, coincidental events that brought owners: Ellie Anest, Aurelien Roulin, and Carol Vassiliadis together.  Making Eleven Eleven the perfect name, because it symbolizes every surprising, awe-inspiring, or fated moment that awaits us all. Bearing this in mind, Eleven Eleven’s tasting room invites you to “make your moment” with an inviting list of tasting options in an unrivaled atmosphere that fulfills all of the senses. You can opt for the Eleven Eleven Experience, a sampling of six wines; a wine and artisan cheese pairing; or arrange in advance for a number of custom experiences tailored to your desires.

White Oak Vineyards & Winery- Healdsburg,CA
At the end of a narrow lane lined with Italian olive trees, White Oak Vineyards & Winery welcomes you to join in the celebration of its unique 35-year heritage of producing distinctive and award-winning varietals. White Oak’s manicured landscapes, fountain, picnic spots, and outdoor artwork make for a visually stunning experience. Be sure to make a reservation in advance, for a seated tasting of five wines paired with special bites and enjoy the new bistro-style tables crafted from old oak barrels. After your tasting, explore the two-story art gallery and then settle in for your picnic in the courtyard. 

The Westin Verasa Napa- Napa, CA  
Located on the riverbank in the heart of downtown, this Napa Valley hotel is within walking distance to more than 15 Napa Valley wine tasting rooms, many Napa restaurant options, and surrounded by plenty of boutique and specialty shopping. Replenish your spirit and sense of fun this fall season, and enjoy the autumn harvest in the heart of wine country. With 180 guest rooms that are pet friendly and offered with great packages as well as the critically acclaimed La Toque restaurant, there's nothing holding you back from booking your ideal fall getaway!

Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill - Kelseyville, CA
Founded by Paul and Kellye Manuel, Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill produces premium wine and olive oils. Working with their three sons and a small, dedicated staff, Paul and Kellye have marked steady success since they released their first wine in 2011. The very next summer, the winery won the prestigious 2012 California State Fair Golden Winery of the Year award, setting the tone for many subsequent awards for both wines and olive oils. This lovely tasting room in Kelseyville feels like a general store with delightful merchandise and attractive tasting bars. Try an olive oil tasting and see if you can detect the nuances between them. 

Twin Pine Casino & Hotel- Middletown, CA
Halfway between wineries of northern Napa Valley and Lake County you will find Twin Pine Casino & Hotel, the only wine-themed casino destination in the US. For wine savvy tourists who embrace the casino lifestyle, Twin Pine offers 25,000 square feet of slot machines and blackjack and the Grapevine Bar & Lounge. For the full dining experience, the Manzanita Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner which often includes a wine pairing program prepared by Manzanita’s chefs. With deluxe, spacious hotel rooms, Twin Pine strives to provide the ideal all-around experience.

Klinker Brick Winery—Lodi, CA
Klinker Brick is the ideal Lodi locale to enjoy a picnic lunch.  Set up your spread at one of the six picnic tables, each with it’s own umbrella, and indulge in one of their award-winning red wines like the Old Vine Zinfandel.  It’s easy to feel right at home here as families, including the dog, are welcome!  And don’t forget to also go inside the tasting room to grab your furry friend a treat from behind the bar.  While inside the tasting room enjoy one of the appealing wines while admiring the architecture composed of Klinker bricks and accentuated by lofty ceilings.

Santa Ynez Valley, CA 
The stunning Santa Ynez Valley is a road trippers dream with barely traveled rural routes leading you from town, to village, to winery. With advance planning you can discover hidden gem wineries as you enjoy these beautiful trails. Besides several tasting rooms along Alamo Pintado and Foxen Canyon Roads, there are tasting rooms in every town, with wonderful restaurants to try. Other wineries are tucked in the hillsides, so be sure to map your route in advance and book appointments at hidden treasures like Pence Ranch, Dierberg Star Lane, Happy Canyon Vineyard, and Demetria. The valley also offers some truly unique and wonderful accommodations in the towns and villages of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, and Santa Ynez. So, book your trip today! 

Grey Wolf Cellars and Barton Family Wines- Paso Robles, CA
Since Grey Wolf Cellars was founded, Joe and Shirlene Barton have mastered the art of blending. Joe’s knack for finding the best grapes to combine allows for a unique taste of Paso Robles. When Joe and his wife Jenny decided to update the family’s farmhouse tasting room, they went a step beyond and transformed it into The Barton House, a homey, yet ultra-modern space that seamlessly blends the family’s past with the present. Beyond the wines, you can enjoy lunch served by Jeffry’s Catering five days a week. Behind the house, there’s a quiet spot with plenty of chairs for lounging under giant shady trees. A bit farther back, there’s the tasting room for KROBAR Craft Distillery, the ethanol-induced brainchild of Joe and fellow winemaker, Stephen Kroener. Here you can linger and sample hand- crafted spirits. 

Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dundee Hills, OR  
Domaine Drouhin’s deep ties to Burgundy is evident not only in their gracious wines but in the winemaking itself.  Their fascinating four-story gravity flow winery in Oregon’s Dundee Hills is truly a sight to be seen!  Be sure to book an appointment for a casual walking tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at this unique winemaking procedure.  As you move from vineyard to fermentation room and barrel cellar, you will have the chance to taste the Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs.  And with some advance notice, you can bring a picnic to enjoy on the terrace where you can soak in the scenery!  And don’t forget to check out the inaugural vintage from the Drouhin’s latest venture, the 2014 RoseRock Pinot Noir.

Yakima Valley, WA
Besides an inspiring wine, craft beverage, and food scene, the Yakima Valley is sunny, relaxed, and friendly, making it an ideal escape. For lodging, visitors are finding an increasing number of unique options. Home to more than 17,000 acres of vineyards including Washington State’s oldest AVA, the Yakima Valley provides the grapes for more than one-third of the wines produced in the entire state. With more than 40 commercial crops, the Yakima Valley has the largest variety of fresh grown produce in the Pacific Northwest.  This fact is evident in the farmer’s markets and numerous farm-to-table dinning options.  And fall is a perfect time to visit the Yakima Valley as both the Fresh Hop Ale Festival and the Catch the Crush events take place in early October. 

 

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