Touring & Tasting's Wine Lounge

A forum for wine lovers to share their thoughts and experiences...

Camille Rutherford
October 1, 2016 | Camille Rutherford

Harvest Season is Here!

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.

Camille Rutherford
September 13, 2016 | Camille Rutherford

Fall is Full of Excitement!

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. 


Wendy Van Diver
September 12, 2016 | Wendy Van Diver

Idaho wine… The time has come!

Idaho has been on my radar screen for a few years now, but I simply hadn’t found the time to get there until last month. Thanks to the generous invitation of Moya Dolsby, executive director for the Idaho Wine Commission, I enjoyed a fabulous 2.5-day tour of Southwest Idaho in late August. Southwest Idaho is home to the state’s capitol city, Boise, as well as three wine regions: the Southwest Wine District, the Sunnyslope Wine District, and the Urban Wine District. I arrived in Boise in time for lunch downtown at Red Feather Lounge with Moya and Shelley Bennett, community relations manager for the wine commission. Over a delicious lunch that included a Smoked Trout Board and house-made curried chicken soup, Moya and Shelley gave me the lay of the land. After posing for a few post-lunch photos, I set out with a very ambitious itinerary in hand. Little did I know how many wonderful people and exceptional wines I was about to encounter. Touring and tasting in Southwest Idaho is a fabulous adventure. Although grapes have grown in this region for nearly a century, it is still a place of discovery. I found Idaho wines to be elegant, aromatic, and very food friendly. And yes, I sampled some that I would call exemplary. And from all I heard, tasted, and saw, I can promise you that this is only the beginning.

Lilian De Voto
June 23, 2016 | Lilian De Voto

Summer Wine Destinations

As you kick-off the summer season, it’s time for a refreshing getaway. The weather is heating up as the sun comes out to play, and what better way to beat the heat than a rejuvenating wine country getaway?  Summer’s wine county itinerary presents us with spectacular wineries and regions across the country. Full of breathtaking scenes, rustic atmospheres, nature expeditions, resort living, and beachfront relaxation, this list is your guide to summer 2016. Whether to commemorate a birthday or anniversary, or simply a celebration of life, these destinations are the perfect host. Explore!

The Cliffs Resort – Pismo Beach, CA
Placed on scenic Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Cliffs Resort sits on the beach and provides a full-service stay with first-class amenities. As a neighbor to California’s finest beaches, championship golf courses, gourmet dining, farmland, fisheries, and the famous Hearst Castle, travelers never run out of activities and picturesque terrain. Located in the heart of California’s Central Coast wine country, Cliffs Resort is near to more than 200 world-class wineries, with panoramic views of their coastal surroundings.

Traverse City Wine Tourism – Traverse City, MI
Named one of National Geographic’s 2012 “Ten Best Summer Trips”, Traverse City resides on the edge of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. Its striking characteristics include miles of sandy beaches, sparkling blue waters, and glacier-carved lakes and hills. In the area is the stunning Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, once voted “Most Beautiful Place in America”, making the Traverse Bay a top choice for those who enjoy sailing, boating, beachcombing and kayaking, along with an engaging wine experience.

SeaVenture Beach Hotel – Pismo Beach, CA
This casual yet elegant beachfront retreat offers rooms with featherbeds, fireplaces, and many with private balcony hot tubs, right at the southernmost point of Pismo Beach and three blocks from downtown. Its ideal location is walking distance from tasting rooms and wine bars as well as gourmet restaurants.  One can dine at the breathtaking third-floor restaurant where ocean views can be observed.  This centrally located yet private destination is an ideal spot for beach weddings and meetings, and those seeking even more privacy may find themselves in the separate three-bedroom Beach House.

Wine & Roses – Lodi, CA
Serving as the ultimate wine country retreat, Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant, and Spa resides on in charming Lodi, California. Its owners, Lodi natives Kathryn and Russ Munson, created an authentic destination for true wine enthusiasts. The outstanding seven-acre property offers serenity, beauty, and an intimate, luxurious atmosphere in the heart of Lodi Wine Country while being a place for those eager to discover Lodi and its sublime wines.

Nottingham Cellars – Livermore, CA
Possessing many distinct microclimates, The Livermore Valley supports an outstanding array of wine grapes, and is home to the unique, family-run Nottingham Cellars. This winery sources fruit from the region’s “best thought-out” vineyards, maximizing varieties’ potential. Nottingham Cellars’ enviable reputation originally comes from its limited-production single vineyard Cabernet and Bordeaux blends. Nottingham continues the reputation through its utilization of the region’s diversity, now producing their wine under three distinct brand names, while maintaining the region’s rich winegrowing history. Added to the portfolio is the Vasco Urbano label run by Collin Cranor who was recognized by Wine Enthusiast as “one of Livermore’s most promising young winemakers”, and son of owners Diane and Jeff Cranor.   

Loudon County – Loudon County, VA
With an untouched countryside, Loudon County’s rolling landscape provides the perfect place to retreat for golfers, hikers, rock climbers, cyclists, and birdwatchers. Its winding roads that lead past elegant estates and beautiful horse farms exemplify Loudon County’s proud equestrian legacy, including many race tracks, riding trails, shows, and equestrian-related museums. Loudon County is ideal for those looking for a charming and well-rounded destination, family farms, dozens of tasting rooms, as well as art exhibits, concerts, and theatre.

Pepper Bridge Winery – Walla Walla, WA
With a tasting room overlooking Pepper Bridge Vineyard and the distant Blue Mountains, Pepper Bridge Winery is recognized for elegant, balanced wines handcrafted from grapes grown in its three Walla Walla estate vineyards. Of special interest to environmentally conscious wine-tasters, Pepper Bridge Winery was the first gravity flow winery and first certified sustainable winery in the state of Washington. Its enchanting wraparound deck appeal to those looking to enjoy their favorite wine while observing the awe-inspiring surrounding landscape. Pepper Bridge’s second tasting room, located in Woodinville, provides Seattle-area wine lovers a taste of Walla Walla and hosts many private events.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa – San Luis Obispo, CA
A health and wellness sanctuary for more than 100 years, this Resort & Spa resides atop natural mineral springs, and offers 72 guest rooms and suites. Committed to wellbeing, the captivating landscaped grounds feature an award-winning spa and treatment center, an on-site yoga dome offering yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and meditation classes. This enticing and relaxed resort also hosts a restaurant featuring spontaneous garden cuisine inspired by the on-site Chef’s Garden, and serves as a starting point for hiking and biking trails that lead to the ocean and charming Avalia Beach.

ArborBrook Vineyards – Newberg, Oregon
Originally built more than a century ago, this astonishing red barn was discovered in 1999 by Mary and Dave Hansen and became home to ArborBrook Vineyards. Located in the southern flank of Yamhill County’s Chehalem Mountain range, the beautifully charming barn now serves as a spacious tasting room and cold storage wine room, with space for the horses out back. Since Dave planted their first block of grapes 17 years ago, ArborBrook has become a desirable destination for its sophisticatedly rustic ambience, gorgeous barn and scenery, and its excellent wines that continually earn high acclaim.

Apple Farm’s Wine Country Inn – San Luis Obispo, CA
Located in the midst of three acres of landscaped grounds, the charming Apple Farm Inn offers 104 individually decorated guest rooms, each with its own fireplace. Apple Farm’s grounds provide a place for exploration, with an old mill, a two-story gift shop, a relaxing massage center, and a legendary restaurant and bakery open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The summer months are the perfect time to plan your getaway as the inn hosts a multitude of lawn activities and winemaker dinners.


Aishleen Spiers
May 5, 2016 | Aishleen Spiers

Magnificent May Wine Destinations

As May rolls around, we begin to look forward to summer and the warm weather and adventures that await.  It’s time to take advantage of that nice weather and plan those summer wine country getaways you’ve been waiting for! Our latest list of great wine destinations offers top-notch wineries, touring services, and hotels to aid you in planning an outstanding and unique wine county vacation. With Mother’s Day approaching on May 8th, consider gifting her a fun wine tasting excursion. Also, the International Chardonnay Symposium and National Wine Day occur in May, making it the perfect month to embark on a tour of wine country.  No matter the occasion, the destinations listed below guarantee priceless summer memories with family and friends full of great wine, food, and fun!

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines – Paso Robles, CA
Jerry Lohr founded J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines in 1974 and ever since, the winery has continued to prove why they are one of North America’s most successful family wineries. A visit to their Paso Robles tasting room, conveniently located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, will provide you with access to flavorful wines and stylish event facilities.  Enjoy a glass of one of their award-winning wines from the wraparound veranda and take in the amazing vineyard views.

Ledson Winery & Hotel – Sonoma, CA
Have an unforgettable Sonoma wine country experience by visiting the iconic Ledson Winery & Hotel.  Visitors can tour the illustrious Ledson Winery castle, stay at the vintage-style boutique hotel and visit one of the tasting rooms.  Guests at Ledson Winery & Vineyards are offered a complete tasting experience and can choose from a variety of tasting options. They are welcome to drop in for a general tasting at one of the three separate tasting rooms, or they can plan ahead and make a reservation for a personal tasting hosted in a private tasting suite with one of Steve Ledson’s knowledgeable winemaker’s assistants.  No matter your selection, the staff at Ledson will render an experience like no other!

Beau Wine Tours – Napa Valley and Sonoma, CA
Beau Wine Tours is the perfect service to take you on your next Sonoma or Napa Valley wine country adventure.  The tours are led by guides able to provide guests with knowledge regarding local Wine Country history, geography, and winemaking practices. They have a variety of vehicles and are able to accommodate tours for 2-200 people.  Whether you take one of their tours or indulge in a private chauffeured ride, Beau Wine Tours and their exceptional drivers and tour guides will provide you an unforgettable experience!

Pismo Beach, CA
Pismo Beach is the perfect summer destination for any wine lover. Travel to Pismo Beach to experience a unique getaway full of waves and wine, with more than 20 wineries and tasting rooms located within 15 minutes of downtown.  Or take a short drive to tour and taste at one of the more than a dozen Edna and Arroyo Grande Valley wineries.  On top of visiting wineries, visitors to Pismo Beach can surf, walk the boardwalk and pier, golf, cycle, explore museums, and much more!

Anaba Wines – Sonoma, CA
Anaba Wines is named after the anabatic winds that flow through the vineyard’s 16-acre estate where their elegant and classic wines come from.  Anaba wines continue to receive recognition for their excellence.  They also receive major recognition for their green initiatives, including their utilization of wind energy in the production of their wines. Visit the century-old farmhouse tasting room or their patio overlooking the vineyard to sample their exceptional wines this summer.

Castello di Amorosa – Napa Valley, CA
Dario Sattui built the must-see destination that is Castello di Amorosa in order to honor his Italian heritage and showcase his exceptional wines. The winery sits within the walls of a medieval-style castle and features a drawbridge, moat, dungeon, and a 12,000-square-foot wine barrel room. Guests can take a tour of the castle, that also includes a barrel tasting experience, or participate in the Royal Food and Wine Pairing featuring authentic Italian food.

Trione Vineyards & Winery – Sonoma, CA
Through the decades and three generations, The Trione family has been honored with awards for their contributions to the Sonoma County Wine Industry with their dedication to bringing in quality fruit and crafting small lots of premium wine. Trione’s state-of-the-art winemaking facility and tasting room was built alongside Sonoma County’s historic Old Stone Building--dating back to 1908. Unwind at the bocce courts that host amazing views of the Alexander Valley, or attend one of their many food and wine events.

Inn at the Tides – Sonoma, CA
Enhance a trip to Sonoma wine country by staying at the Inn at the Tides.  Set along the isolated Sonoma coastline, the Inn provides the ideal sanctuary for rejuvenation and relaxation.  Enjoy a day at the spa or swimming pool and compliment it with a decadent dinner at one of their dinning outlets.  The Tides Wharf Restaurant will evoke a sense a familiarity, even for first time-diners.  This is because the restaurant was featured in the famed Alfred Hithcock movie, The Birds. Or for a more wine focused dining experience, the Bay View Restaurant hosts monthly winemaker dinners featuring many top Sonoma and Napa Valley vintners serving four-course wine and food pairings. The Inn at the Tides is truly a Sonoma sanctuary! 

Silvan Ridge Winery – Wilamette Valley, OR
Silvan Ridge Winery offers a multitude of fun events to check out this upcoming summer, including: dinners, outdoor movies and a Friday night concert series featuring live music and wood-fired oven pizzas. Their tasting room is located just 12 miles from downtown Eugene, Oregon, where they offer an impressive tasting menu and gorgeous views of the sunset. May is recognized as Oregon Wine Month and thus is the perfect excuse to take a trip to Silvan Ridge Winery and experience impressive Willamette Valley wines.

Andis Wines – Sierra Foothills, CA
From first glance, Andis Wines impresses guests with its stunning architecture.  They remain a leader in the green movement with their dedication to the environment; even offering electric vehicle charging stations. Andis Wines seeks out the best vineyards of the Sierra Foothills region in order to create delicious and elegant wines through traditional and innovative winemaking techniques.  The expansive tasting room, open daily 11am-4:30pm, offers amazing views of Amador wine country and picnic areas where guests can relax and enjoy their favorite Andis wine.

Time Posted: May 5, 2016 at 11:14 AM
Kelly Morris
April 1, 2016 | Kelly Morris

April’s All About Wine

It’s April and – no joke -- we’re back with more wine country experiences for you this month. It seems like April has a bad reputation for bringing “showers” and taxes, but there is actually a lot to celebrate! Break out your best suit for National Tweed Day (April 3), take a stroll around a winery on National Walking Day (April 6), try a nice port pairing for National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day (April 21) and enjoy the brisk Spring air on April 23rd for National Picnic Day. Whether you’re celebrating one of the many National Days of April or merely spending a day in wine country, we have the perfect spot for you.

El Dorado County-Gold Country  
Whether it’s whitewater rafting, fishing, or wine tasting you’re after– look no further than El Dorado County, located in beautiful Gold Country, California. Although some may consider El Dorado County a hidden gem, The El Dorado Wine district has been producing wines since the Gold Rush era.

With over 70 wineries to visit and countless outdoor activities, El Dorado County has something for everyone. The 25th Annual Passport Event Weekends, offer passport holders the chance to visit 20-plus wineries, enjoy food pairings and much more!  While the Winemaker Dinners on April 8 and 15 ensure that you taste all that one of California’s oldest winegrowing regions has to offer. 

Harney Lane Winery-Lodi
The Mettler Family has been farming the 100 acre Harney Lane parcel, just east of Lodi, for over one hundred years, but the family just turned to winemaking in 2006 and they are already winning awards for their exceptional hand-crafted estate wines. Bring your dog, sit out in the beautiful garden, and enjoy the April weather over a cheese platter and their acclaimed Old Vine Zinfandel.

Jamieson Ranch-Napa Valley
From pinots to ponies, Jamieson Ranch embodies the lively spirit of the Napa Valley. They provide three fun pairing options: The JRV Napa Comfort Food Pairing is a guided food and wine pairing that teaches the essentials of creating and enjoying food with wine; the JRV Veranda Cheese Pairing is a guided cheese and wine pairing overlooking the winery’s rolling hills; and the JRV Experience takes guests on a guided food and wine pairing, plus a tour of the winery. Or, sit outside while you enjoy the acclaimed Jamieson Ranch wines, you may very well be greeted by one of the miniature horses that live on-site!

Robert Mondavi Winery-Napa Valley
In 1966, with his belief that the Napa Valley could be the center of a gracious lifestyle embracing wine, food, and art, Robert Mondavi built the valley’s first major winery since Prohibition. Visit Robert Mondavi and enjoy the expansive, picturesque grounds, which look stunning rain or shine. There are tables indoors with large windows looking out over the property and knowledgeable, hospitable staff. Take one of the tours and learn about the winemaking process, enjoy a three-course lunch paired with wines, or visit in the evening for a sunset tour. This iconic Napa winery is the perfect spot to relax on a spring day.

Artesa Vineyards & Winery-Napa Valley
Artesa Vineyards & Winery is a Napa Valley standout. The unique hilltop construction designed by Barcelona architect, Domingo Triay, and the one-of-a-kind artistic installations by Artist-in-Residence, Gordon Huether, are absolutely breathtaking. Guests are greeted as soon as they arrive and the tasting room is spacious enough to easily accommodate groups. Weather permitting, sip out on the patio and enjoy unparalleled views of the rolling Napa hills. Save room for their pre-order menu of food pairings- a foodie’s dream!

Klinker Brick Winery-Lodi
Klinker bricks (named for the unusual sound they make when banged together) were chosen by 1920s craftsmen architects for their distinctive qualities including unique shapes and dark, rich color. A rich, deep color, enormous density, and other unique characteristics also help describe this winery’s exceptional lineup of red wines like the Old Vine Zinfandel and Farrah Syrah. The tasting room at Klinker Brick is known for its friendly, knowledgeable staff and great ambiance.

B Cellars Vineyards & Winery-Napa Valley
B Cellars has taken a unique approach to wine tasting with the unveiling of its Hospitality House. Here, guests are engaged in a variety of tasting rooms and private event spaces that lead to the chef’s garden, chicken coop, and apiary program that brings many beneficial elements to the vineyards and gardens while doing its part to strengthen the health of the local bee community. Try their magnificent organic cuisine along with their esteemed wine, B Cellars never disappoints.

Stags' Leap Winery-Napa Valley
Located on the east side of the Napa Valley, the 240-acre Stags’ Leap estate rests in its own intimate valley, graced with natural beauty, historical buildings, gardens, and a legendary reputation for elegant wines that express their unique terroir. The tasting room delivers floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the vineyard and Stags’ Leap Mountain.  Try one of their exquisite cabs while enjoying the gardens and be sure to ask your host about the legend of Stags’ Leap.  Stags’ Leap is always memorable.

V. Sattui Winery, Artisan Foods & Italian Marketplace-Napa Valley
If spring picnics interest you, look no further than V. Sattui. With their large picnic area that wraps around the building and an excelled deli and cheese shop, there is no need to pack your own lunch; on some days there is even an outdoor barbeque! The attentive, generous staff contribute to the lively, bustling atmosphere that keeps guests coming back. Enjoy the scenic grounds and their portfolio of over 60 wines. Try one of their flights, their moscato frizzante, and their fresh made mozzarella cheese.

Gary Farrell Winery-Sonoma County
Set high atop the Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell Winery is a Sonoma county standout. In the winery’s 33-year history, the winery has consistently produced Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, forging a legacy of collaboration between the winery and the appellation’s top growers. Stand on the terrace and gaze out over the valley while enjoying their outstanding wines, or take a tour of the winery’s crush pad and cellar and learn about the winemaking process. The indoor space is cozy and features stone fireplaces, but the long tasting counter can accommodate a group. For magnificent views and a warm, comfortable atmosphere, Gary Farrell is the perfect place.


Kelly Morris
March 10, 2016 | Kelly Morris

Spring into Wine Country

We hope everyone is ready to leave winter behind and leap into spring as there is a lot to celebrate! With March Madness, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and much more, March offers a little something for everyone. Just as spring is all about new life and new growth, we’ve got 10 new wine country locales for you to explore this month. Whether you’re gathering with friends, looking for an escape, or finding the perfect red to compliment your birdie on the 17th hole– we’ve got you covered.

Heitz Wine Cellars (Napa Valley)
Heitz Wine Cellars is a pleasant and peaceful wine country experience. The tasting room is housed in a grey, stone building off the St. Helena Highway. Inside, the simple but spacious tasting room features a stone fireplace and couches for guests to enjoy their world-class wines. Outside, set against lush flower beds, the shady vine-covered patio offers expansive vineyard views. The impeccable wines, knowledgeable staff and beautiful grounds combine for a tasting experience reminiscent of the older days of Napa. Visit Heitz Wine Cellars for a fun, informative tasting in a splendid setting.

Fountaingrove Hotel & Conference Center (Sonoma County)
Located in historic Santa Rosa in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country, the Fountaingrove Inn Hotel & Conference Center combines hospitable luxury with the relaxed, genuine Sonoma County atmosphere. The Steakhouse @ Equus offers premium meats with a modern twist – perfect for food-lovers. Whether you’re enjoying the hotel’s restaurant and amenities, visiting one of the many nearby wineries or exploring the boutiques in downtown Santa Rosa, the Fountaingrove Inn is the perfect home away from home in Sonoma Wine Country.

Silverado Resort and Spa (Napa Valley)
Whether you’re looking for an active getaway or a calm escape, the captivating Silverado Resort & Spa has it all. Blending history and modernity, the plantation-style mansion serves as an icon for the property that was built in the 1870s by Civil War General John Franklin Miller. Besides the PGA Tournament golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pool, bocce and bicycle rentals, there are hiking trails and Napa Valley’s 400- plus wineries nearby. Or perhaps you’re looking to treat yourself at The Spa at Silverado which offers a menu of massage, skin care, and body treatments.

Pine Ridge Vineyards (Napa Valley)
Named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s 75 Best Wineries to Visit in California, Pine Ridge Vineyards is a pleasure for foodies and wine-lovers alike. The educational tours end with a seated, hosted wine and cheese pairing in the Cabernet Caves. Or choose to experience the 5×5 tasting including five estate wines paired with chef prepared delicacies are both incredible experiences, especially for those visiting the Napa Valley. Whether you’re in the caves or the comfortable patio overlooking the gardens, Pine Ridge Vineyards is a scenic tasting experience that will delight all of your senses this spring.

Hope Family Wines (Paso Robles)
With a newly-renovated lounge-style tasting room that feels bold yet comfortable, Hope Family Wines embodies the spirit of Austin Hope’s fearless innovation. The Treana Tasting Cellar features Treana wines as well as Austin’s Rhone style wines bottled under the Austin Hope label. The unique tasting room, diverse wines, and impressive scenery are excellent for those who want to start their spring with a new wine experience.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards (Sonoma Valley)  
Nothing says “spring” quite like sparkling wine! This year, wine enthusiasts around the globe are raising their glasses to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Carneros’ first Sparkling wine house. With 335 acres under vine, Gloria Ferrer’s two estate vineyards produce some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. On the Vista Terrace guests can enjoy table service and picturesque views of the Sonoma Valley landscape where flowers bloom year round.

Bennett Lane Winery (Napa Valley)
Only 13-years-old, Bennett Lane Winery is already known for producing top-tier Cabernet Sauvignon and an incredible 36 90+ point wines. What makes Bennett Lane truly stand out is their reputation as one of the friendliest, most welcoming wineries in the Napa Valley. Sit out on the lawn as the weather warms up and enjoy the spectacular views of Mount St. Helena. Or if you’re looking for a new adventure this March, take one of their hot air balloon tours and see the Napa Valley from above!

Madrone Vineyards Estate (Sonoma County)  
Set two miles west of downtown Sonoma, Madrone Vineyards Estate mixes rustic warmth with modern style. The stone tasting room set in the middle of the vineyards features large wooden doors and a comfortable back patio perfect for sitting out with one of their exceptional small-lot, single-vineyard wines. Wine and cheese pairings prepared by local artisan purveyors are available daily in the tasting room. In addition, Winery Chef, Stephanie Gagne, prepares small bites of seasonal dishes paired with wines for the winery’s Sonoma Small Bites program, offered Thursday through Saturday afternoons. This family-friendly property is stunning any time of the year, but we especially like it in spring when the grounds are a rich green.

Oak Farm Vineyards (Lodi)
Named for a 400-year-old oak tree, Oak Farm Vineyards resides on one of the oldest properties in the Central Valley. But while the property itself is historic, Oak Farm Vineyards is a breath of fresh air. The new tasting room features floor-to-ceiling windows and brick fireplace, and a cozy terrace where you can sip wines while enjoying the stunning Lodi scenery. This vision of the Panella family is a place for those who truly appreciate the celebration of family, friends, and great wine! Their passion shines through every bottle – bring a picnic and spend a spring afternoon getting to know their balanced, delightful wines.

Moshin Vineyards (Sonoma County)
Known for outstanding customer service and fun yet informative tastings, Moshin Vineyards is a Russian River appellation standout. Pinot Noir is their flagship wine, but they also have Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Petite Sirah and something for your sweet tooth as well! Winery events range from dinners to art shows and movie nights, making each visit a unique and enjoyable experience.


Kelly Morris
March 2, 2016 | Kelly Morris

So Many Ways to Love Winter

We hope you have had a great start to the New Year. Are you sticking to your New Year’s resolutions? We are keeping up on our resolution to bring you even more incredible wine country locales. After the holidays it seems like everyone begins to look forward to Spring, but we are bringing you 10 new ways to love these winter months when the tasting rooms are less crowded and the low winter sun brings out the warm colors of wine country landscapes. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up and February is the month of love, these venues are hand-selected to help inspire love throughout the month — be it with friends, family, romantic partners, or yourself!

Grgich Hills Estate
Located on Napa’s historic St. Helena Highway, Grgich Hills Estate is a stunning combination of lush grounds and balanced, elegant wines. Since starting Grgich Hills, Mike Grgich has continued receiving international awards for his estate grown wines, and he has been recognized for being a leader in natural winegrowing and sustainability. As Mike Grgich often says, “From our vineyard to your glass, naturally!” Take one of the captivating walking tours or enjoy a seated tasting.

Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards 
In Latin, the name Materra is a rough translation for Mother Earth. It’s quite a fitting name for wines from the 50-acre vineyard in Napa’s esteemed Oak​ Knoll district. Each Materra wine is a perfect expression of the land, the grapes, and the passion the Cunat family has invested in each bottle. With acommitment to treat every guest like family, tastings are a warm and personal experience.

Michael David Winery
Recently named Winery of the Year at the 2016 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, Michael David Winery has been producing premium quality wines for 6 generations from the heart of the Lodi region. Built in 1972 around the family’s original roadside fruit stand, the winery building features a cafe serving farm-style breakfasts and lunch, a bakery with famous pies and gourmet cookies, and a tasting room where Michael David wines are proudly poured. Plus, the pet-friendly grounds ensure that no friends get left out this Valentine’s Day.

Wine & Roses
Set on a 7-acre estate with towering trees, flowers, and herb gardens, Wine & Roses is a breath-taking escape located in the famous Lodi wine region. Whether you’re treating yourself or your partner, Wine & Roses is a relaxing retreat like no other. Beat the winter blues by sipping wine and spending the day at the award-winning spa. The restaurant serves locally-inspired flavors and features live music throughout the week.  Special “Romance Month” packages are offered throughout February for the couple looking for a romantic escape.

Elizabeth Chambers
Formerly the McMinnville Power Generation Building, this genuine wine cellar has a great industrial feel and large, spacious tasting room. Founded just two years ago, and already known for their friendly and knowledgeable staff and outstanding Pinot, Elizabeth Chambers Cellars is a welcome addition to the McMinnville wine district of Oregon. With the winery and cellars in the same building, guests can watch the winemaker at work while they sample the flavors. Try a flight and sip the elegant wines out on the delightful patio, weather permitting.

Traverse City, MI
Set at the edge of Lake Michigan’s beautiful Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse City is known for its miles of sandy beaches and the Caribbean color of its waters. Traverse City is perfect for adventurous vacationers who enjoy hiking, skiing, or snowmobiling. For the more laid-back wanderer, spas offer massages with warmed Lake Michigan stones. The tasting rooms are less busy during the winter months and, if Mother Nature cooperates, you might catch a glimpse of winemakers pressing grapes for ice wine – a high-end dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine.

Wente Winemakers Studio
Why not create your own special blend during the month of love? From the nation’s oldest continuously-operated family winery comes the engaging Winemaker’s Studio, a hands-on tasting experience. Blend, bottle, cork, and label you own wine. Learn how to identify specific aromas or simply discover your perfect wine and cheese pairing!  With an experience that “changes as often as the vines,” each visit promises to be completely unique.

Bodega Bay Lodge
Just a short walk from Doran Beach, Bodega Bay Lodge in Sonoma is perfect for a beach getaway. Each room has a king-size bed, wood-burning fire place, and a private balcony with scenic views of the Sonoma Coast. Morning fog creates a surreal atmosphere before burning off to reveal the striking coast line. At dusk you can watch the sunset from the infinity-edge spa or the heated pool. The cozy fireside bar and Duck Club restaurant serve dishes made with ingredients from local family farms that are sure to delight. Taste the local wines and explore outdoor activities during the day and retreat to the calm, quiet coast by night.

One of the most beautiful and iconic wineries in Napa, for the past 30 years, Peju has been blending art and industry as beautifully as they blend their wines. Wander through the gardens and enjoy the sculptures, koi pond, and towering sycamore trees. Tastings are held in the famous Peju tower – one of the tallest, most unique buildings in Napa. Peju offers a wine experience unlike any other as guests sample current release wines in a presentation-style setting.

Southwest Idaho
From snow-packed mountains to relaxing hot springs, Southwest Idaho is a wonderful winter escape. For the adventurous, the snow-packed peaks are perfect for everything from skiing to tubing and snowshoeing. At the end of an invigorating outdoor adventure it’s easy to stop into a tasting room or two.  Wine touring can be a great all-day adventure of its own. With 35 wineries set against spectacular Southwest Idaho scenery, this region has it all!


Colton Dickinson
November 13, 2015 | Colton Dickinson

10 Award-Winning Wine Destinations For Fall Touring

Fall festivities have come to a close which can only mean one thing- the holiday season has arrived! It’s a wonderful time for friends and family to come together and enjoy each other’s company, as well as all of the delicious treats that this season has to offer! There is no better way to embrace the holiday festivities than exploring some excellent new wineries in the company of those closest to you. Listed below are 10 award-winning wine destinations that are sure to impress, whether you’re visiting one of their breathtaking tasting rooms or sharing a toast from the comfort of your home.

Wente Vineyards | Livermore, CA  
As the oldest family owned and operated vineyard in the United States, guests can trust they are in good hands at Wente Vineyards. Wente has set and maintained the highest standards of integrity in every aspect of the wine industry for the past 131 years, and their hard work has earned them the international notoriety that they are recognized for today. Guests can taste the elegant blends that have been brought to perfection in over a century’s time at any of the winery’s three tasting rooms, are welcome to participate in hands-on winemaking activities at the newly established Winemakers Studio.

Cache Creek Vineyards | Lake County, CA
It all started back in 1999, when Bill Van Pelt was greeted by a herd of tule elk as he approached the property of his new winery for the first time. His love for these local creatures inspired him to preserve the land by planting various grasses on and creating several ponds for the elk, in addition to the large vineyard that was originally planted. In 2014, Bill’s legacy was entrusted to his son, Don Van Pelt, who decided to open a beautiful tasting room for guests to enjoy his decadent wines. Visitors can indulge in the unique flavors of their many award-winning wines in their elegant tasting room, on their large outdoor patio, or enjoy a full day tour of their gorgeous property.

Wine & Roses | Lodi, CA 
The holiday season can often have us feeling in need of a vacation. Wine & Roses is the perfect spot for visitors to leave their worries behind and enjoy a relaxing getaway. With premium guest rooms, an excellent restaurant with locally inspired flavors, and an award winning spa, Wine & Roses will help you forget the holiday stress. Making the choice to visit this relaxing retreat will give you plenty be thankful for this year.

Lava Cap Winery | Placerville, CA
Pristine views, refreshing mountain air, and artisanal crafted wines are just a few of the captivating luxuries that can be found at Lava Cap Winery. In 1981, when David and Jeanne Jones planted the first vines in the Sierra Foothills, they knew that they had started something special. As a family of geologists, it was no accident that they picked a location with prime volcanic soil that’s perfect for growing fine wine grapes. Each day the grapes are draped in a warm blanket of foothill sunshine and cooledin the evening by a peaceful Sierra breeze. With this unique climate and soil it’s not surprising that year after year the hand crafted wines continue to win awards across the nation.

Jamieson Ranch | Napa, CA 
When the warm glow of sunshine touches down on the Jamieson Ranch Estate it’s a sight that truly captures the beauty of the Napa Valley. Jamieson Ranch is located in the southern gateway of the Napa Valley and offers visitors jaw dropping vista views that can be enjoyed from their Grand Western Mountain Lodge, featuring lofty ceilings, an inviting fireplace, and a wraparound veranda. The property offers several different food and wine pairing options that can be savored while admiring the majestic property and breathtaking surroundings that Jamieson Ranch has to offer.

Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill | Lake County, CA
When guests arrive at Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill they can expect to be greeted by majestic rolling hills blanketed with grapevines and olive trees. Producing wine and olive oil on the same property has proven to be an incredible talent of Chacewater founders Paul and Kellye Manuel. This up and coming new venture opened its doors less than five years ago, and quickly proved its excellence by earning the title of California State Fair Golden Winery of the Year in 2012. Since then, the notoriety has only continued to flourish with more and more awards piling up. Chacewater offers tastings of both olive oil and wine, making it an excellent choice for any group

J. Lohr Winery | Paso Robles & San Jose, CA 
Four decades ago Jerry Lohr was among the first to realize the vast, untapped potential of the now world-class wine growing region known asthe California Central Coast. He and his family made a commitment to upwards of 1,300 acres of estate vineyards set in the cool climate of the Paso Robles region. On the property there are grapes spreading as far as the eye can see, yet the Lohr family manages to provide the same attention to detail as a small boutique winery. This is the perfect location to enjoy a tasting with family and friends, or celebrate a special occasion with a catered evening among the vineyards. 

Twin Pine Casino & Hotel | Lake County, CA
If you love great hospitality, extensive wine lists, and trying your luck at the slots, Twin Pine Casino & Hotel is the perfect place for you. Its an excellent destination to celebrate something special or simply take a break from your daily routine. Twin Pine is known for its dedication to top of the line hospitality, which includes an exclusive nightly food and wine pairing menu prepared by the chefs of the hotel’s Manzanita restaurant. In addition, a local winery is chosen each month to be showcased at a “meet and greet” wine tasting and prix fixe wine pairing dinner. As the nation’s only wine-themed casino destination, guests can be sure that their experience at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel will be one of a kind.

Perry Creek Winery | Fair Play, CA 
At Perry Creek Winery, every decision is made meticulously with the creation of distinctive flavor in mind. Grapes are sourced directly from the estate vineyard as well as a unique 30-acre vineyard that’s tucked away in the Sierra Foothills. Due to its location with a high elevation averaging at 2401 feet, the grapes are exposed to microclimates that give them exclusive flavors that easily attest to any national standard. In fact, since opening in 1989, the winery has received national recognition including scores exceeding 90 points.

Thorn Hill Vineyards | Lake County & St. Helena, CA
“Bringing people together through wine” has continued to be the philosphy of Amy and Jack Thorn who began producing had crafted artisan wines of exceptional quality many years ago. Thorn Hill Vineyards crafts all of its wines from small production, single vineyards, resulting in 100% single varietal wines. From there, Amy and Jack follow the meticulous practices of small lot, whole cluster pressing, de-stemming, cold soaking, extended maceration, barrel-to-barrel racking and bottling without filtration. This perfected process is noticeably tasted in their delicious portfolio of wines, and has earned them the title of Best in Class at the California State Fair California Commercial Wine Competition.

Time Posted: Nov 13, 2015 at 1:24 PM
Colton Dickinson
October 12, 2015 | Colton Dickinson

Harvest Happiness this Fall

If you were to step foot in wine country today, you would notice an instant jittery feeling of excitement in the air. You can feel, see, and smell this intriguing energy, which can only mean one thing—it’s harvest season! These are the months that winemakers and wine enthusiasts live for, it’s the Christmas morning of winemaking that makes all their hard work worth it. Harvest is the best time to visit wine country and you don’t want to miss out on experiencing this special time of year. Amazing wine, amazing vibes, and amazing weather… have we convinced you yet? Harvest some happiness in your life this fall by visiting one of our recommended wineries!

Fantesca Estate Winery | Napa Valley, CA
Inspired by the rich female heritage of the property, Susan and Duane Hoff founded Fantesca in 2004 on the beautiful hillside of Spring Mountain knowing that they would have an incredible reputation to uphold. 150 years ago, the vineyard produced the grapes that Hannah Weinberg would use to craft one of Napa’s first award winning wines. The notoriety continues to this day, as the winery’s portfolio boasts the only Chardonnay crafted by Heidi Barrett, who has received numerous 100 point scores from Robert Parker. Private visits are arranged by advanced appointment to ensure that every guest gets a true sense of what it’s like to be a Fantesca collector.

Buttonwood Farm Winery | Solvang, CA
Had you visited the farm a couple hundred years ago, one would have likely been greeted by horses, goats, chickens, and more. Today, Buttonwood Farm is still proudly operating as a family owned winery where the words “organic” and “sustainable” have been relevant long before they became mainstream. Enjoy a variety of distinctive, well structured, and balanced wines with a unique Buttonwood flare. Don’t just take our word for it though, Buttonwood wines routinely receive acclaim, including a recent award of 91 points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Sit back, grab a glass, and enjoy some great wine in the beautiful tasting room that features artwork by Seyburn Zorthian or take the opportunity to explore the captivating picnic grounds Buttonwood has to offer right in the middle of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. It truly is a hidden gem.

Klinker Brick Winery | Lodi, CA
Klinker bricks get their name for the unusual sound that they make when banged together but what really makes them unique is their deep color and enormous density. These qualities are what gave Klinker Brick Winery it’s name five generations ago, and have lead growers Steve and Lori Felton to produce world-class, Old Vine Zinfandel for the past 15 years. While Old Vine Zinfandel is their specialty, the winery has added several distinct new wines including a dry style Rosé and a captivating, pungent Cabernet blend called Bricks and Mortar. Guests have the opportunity to enjoy all that the winery has to offer in a beautiful tasting room boasting lofty ceilings and historic concrete brick walls.​

Peju Winery | Napa Valley, CA
Judging by its celebrated presence in the Napa Valley today, its hard to imagine that 32 years ago the Peju Family Winery was simply just a vision. Over the years the winery has transformed from a simple grape growing venture into a landmark winery with a reputation for elegant, complex and balanced wines in the classic Bordeaux variety. The family owned and operated winery takes pride in featuring organic and sustainably farmed fruits in all of its wine selections. As if the delicious wine itself wasn’t enough, tastings are held in an exquisite 50 foot tall tower. Rest assured that your visit to this beautiful property, nestled in the heart of the Napa Valley will be a warm and welcoming one thanks to the amazing hospitality provided by the Peju family.

Vina Robles | Paso Robles, CAIt’s no secret that Europe and California both have a lot to offer when it comes to great food, great wine, and great hospitality. The two prime locations may be thousands of miles apart, but even a great distance is no match for partners Hans Nef and Hans R. Michael. In the mid 1990’s, the partners were able to successfully combine the finesse of European influence with bold natural California flavors to create an incredible selection of ultra premium wines at Vina Robles. Today, visitors have access to a chic 14,000 square foot hospitality center where the excitement extends far beyond the delicious wine. Numerous tasting menus, delicious food parings, gourmet lunches, and even an incredible amphitheater are all elements of the lavish accommodations at Vina Robles where you can be sure to expect gracious hospitality and an excellent wine country experience.

Steven Kent Winery | Livermore Valley, CA
Growing up in a family that had been making wine for six generations, Steven Kent Mirassou wanted to continue this passion for winemaking with a focus on his love of great Cabernet Sauvignon. While Cabernet Sauvignon has been grown in Livermore since the late 1800’s, Steven Kent Winery has raised the bar, crafting small lot vintages that according to Wine Enthusiast, produce today’s greatest Livermore Cabernets. Visit the winery’s Barrel Room, or the Reserve Room on the weekends, in the heart of Livermore Valley wine country, to taste for yourself the superior wines of Steven Kent Winery.

Pence Ranch | Santa Ynez Valley, CASince his early adult life Blaire Pence has had a passion for two things: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. After traveling abroad to Europe and having the opportunity to experience what Pence believes to be the worlds greatest wines, he decided that he would bring the brilliance of Burgundy to the California coast. Today Pence Ranch sits on a heavenly 200-acre property that was fastidiously designed to produce unwaveringly rich and flavorful produce. The main focus is still rooted in Pence’s passion for wine, however, the ranch also produces other crops to remain sustainable and provide the crew and visitors with delicious home grown meals. Bring a picnic and enjoy an exceptional wine tasting experience alongside the shaded pond area. The dedication to excellence can be tasted in every sip of the tasting menu at Pence Ranch.

Riverbench Vineyard & Winery | Santa Barbara, CA
Riverbench is a name that resonates with high quality Santa Barbara Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Since 1973, they have been committed to producing some of the region’s best Burgundian varieties, but they haven’t stopped there. In 2008, they introduced the first Certified Sustainable Sparkling Wine in Santa Barbara, their Jumper Blanc de Blancs, expanding their impressive reputation to the world of sparkling wines. All of their delicious wines are poured in two charming tasting rooms, one at their vineyard in Santa Maria, and the other in the Funk Zone of downtown Santa Barbara.

Anaba Wines | Sonoma, CA What sounds better than spending the day tasting Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Rhone varietals, and Rhone-style blends? How about tasting them in an elegantly renovated century-old farmhouse that’s powered entirely by sustainable wind energy? At Anaba Wines this is the exact standard of hospitality that wine connoisseurs from near and far have come to expect. Overseen by talented duo Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, the wines produced from this extremely sustainable vineyard have received numerous awards throughout the years. If you have the chance to visit Anaba Wines make sure that your taste buds are prepared to embrace some of the finest wines of Sonoma County!

And for Transportation…

Beau Wine Tours | Napa Valley, CA
California is the home of thousands of acres of world renowned wine country; Sonoma County and Napa Valley happen to be two of California’s most popular destinations for those looking to enjoy beautiful scenery, delicious wine, and a relaxing ambiance. Here you will find yourself surrounded by rolling hills of romantic vines, luxury hotels, golf resorts, five star restaurants, world-class theatres, and more. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, Beau Wine Tours can help you discover the many hidden gems that are sprawled amidst this sensational area. With two decades of experience the company has created relationships with many of the attractions that people come from all over to see. Anybody who appreciates the highest level of service and comfort—without compromise—will surely be satisfied when booking a ride with Beau Wine Tours.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

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