Tag Archives: Wine Tourism in California

Vino con Vista has a Crush on Passionate Growers and Winemakers in Lodi

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Tim Holdener from Macchia Winery in Lodi

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Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

If you follow my posts, you know that I adore wine tourism. I love to seek out idyllic destinations around the world where you can enjoy a Vino con Vista; a beautiful place to enjoy wine in the place where it is actually grown. I love places like Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy; the Napa Valley, the Santa Ynez Valley and Sonoma County in California and Bordeaux, Burgundy and The Rhone valley in France. These destinations offer perfect Vino con Vista opportunities. Let’s face it, grapes and vineyards seem to thrive in the most glorious destinations in the world! I guess we can thank the Greeks and the Romans for the fascinating aspects of modern day wine tourism in the sun-drenched vineyards of Lodi California.

Wine Map of Italy

Wine Map of Italy

“Celebrate the Harvest” A Tribute to wine growing in downtown Lodi by Rowland Cheney

Wine grapes

Wine grapes

Old Zinfandel Vines in Lodi

Old Zinfandel Vines in Lodi

I recently discovered an enchanting wine destination along the Mokelumne River in Northern California with over 80 wineries and plenty of tasting rooms. I had a opportunity to get up close and personal with the region’s grapes and many of the multi-generational growers in Lodi at the 9th annual Wine Bloggers Conference. Lodi California 604

WIne Bloggers Conference on Hutchinson Street at Robert Mondavi's former high schoool

Wine Bloggers Conference on Hutchinson Street at Robert Mondavi’s former high schoool

Lodi Wine

Lodi Wine

Located in San Joaquin County between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the region is a wine-lovers paradise! The region’s innovative and passionate producers are generating exceptional food and wine experiences that should catapult Lodi into the wine tourism strastophere! I am so confident about Lodi’s future that I may even buy a place in downtown Lodi. I loved the charming, well-maintained historic California Craftsman bungalows.

It’s relatively close to the UCDavis legendary Department of Viticulture and Enology. Now that I have retired from 30 years as a business professor, maybe I’ll pursue a new degree. I would love to better understand the scientific study of grape-growing and winemaking. It’s never too late, right?

 

Cute houses in downtown Lodi

Cute houses in downtown Lodi

Lodi California 077

LODI FACTS:

Lodi AVAs

“The Lodi AVA is located in the northern Central Valley of California, at the northern edge of the San Joaquin Valley east of the San Francisco Bay.

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LODI
Type American Viticultural Area
Year established 1986, amended in 2002
Country USA
Sub-regions Alta Mesa AVA, Borden Ranch AVA, Clements Hills AVA, Cosumnes River AVA, Jahant AVA, Mokelumne River AVA, Sloughhouse AVA
Climate region Mediterranean
Total area 551,000 acres
Size of planted vineyards 90,000 acres

Robert Mondavi was one of the most influential wine gurus in the industry and he grew up in Lodi. In 2001 Robert Mondavi donated $25 million to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UCDavis for the establishment of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, which opened October 2008.

His former high school in Lodi has been converted into a spectacular conference venue.  Woodbridge by Michael Mondavi the home of the famous Mondavi winery in Lodi where you can taste some of their higher end wines. The demand for grapes in California’s wine industry has been fueled by the Mondavi and Gallo families. Lodi producers have filled the pipeline for powerhouses like Mondavi, Gallo and Constellation brands for many years. The growth of the tasting rooms in Downtown Lodi are a perfect example of grape-growers pursuing forward integration; the profitability of Mondavi and Gallo has been enhanced by vertical integration strategies.

White Wine Grapes

White Wine Grapes

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Tasting Wine in Downtown Lodi

Tasting Wine in Downtown Lodi

Many winemakers are following in Mondavi’s footsteps in Lodi. Harney Lane Winery poured their amazing wines at my table at the Wine Blogger Award Event. The estate grown grapes are the product of a 5th generation farming family. The Mettler decendants offer interesting excursions in Lodi,  including a Grape to Glass Tour. Most of their award-winning wine inventory sells out in the Tasting Room or to Wine Club members. Michael Davis Vineyards has a full restaurant; they have been in Lodi since the Civil War.

BBQ at the Blogger Awards Dinner paired perfectly with the Harney Lane Wines

BBQ at the Blogger Awards Dinner paired perfectly with the Harney Lane Wines

Dinner at Estate Crush

Dinner at Estate Crush

At Estate Crush, we made our own Zinfandel blend and then Bob and Ali Colarossi graciously produced enough bottles of the “WIne Blogger Reserve” for all 300 of the wine bloggers to take home. We had a great time experimenting with different blends produced from their old Zinfandel vines at the “Stellina Vineyard”. The wine bloggers did a blind tasting and selected the 97% Zinfandel, 2% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot as our favorite blend from the Colarossi Estate Crush facility. The Stellina vineyard grapes will soon be part of the Lodi Native Project.

Estate Crush, proprietors: Bob and Ali Colarossi

Estate Crush, proprietors: Bob and Ali Colarossi

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Estate Crush is a dedicated custom crush facility that produces premium custom wine for over 80 clients with more than 120 brands. They have earned many prestigious wine competitions.

Dinner at Estate Crush

Dinner at Estate Crush

We had an amazing Paella dinner prepared by their dear friend J.P. Wetmore poolside surrounded by their lovely Stellina vineyard.

 

We had a lovely dinner at Estate Crush surrounded by old ZInfandel heritage vines that are used for the "Native" Project

We had a lovely dinner at Estate Crush surrounded by old ZInfandel heritage vines that are used for the “Native” Project

I love Macchia Wine

I love Macchia Wine

Macchia’s owner Tim Holdener and his bubbly wife Lani poured so many terrific wines that I joined his Wine Club and anxiously await my first shipment. The Barbera was incredible and I loved the dessert wine. The last time I joined a wine club was Moshin in the Russian River Valley and that was many years ago.

At the speed tasting, the wine bloggers had to opportunity to sample some amazing white wines from the Bokisch Winery.

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Bokisch Winery

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Bob and Ali Colarossi, Proprietors of Estate Crush

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Kevin Phillips and his family produce Cinsaut grapes at the Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi. Planted in 1886, it’s the oldest Cinsaut vineyard in the world!

 

Many of the 80 wineries are winning awards and producing award-winning wines. Located just 90 minutes from San Francisco and 60 minutes from Napa; Lodi produces more wine than Napa and Sonoma combined. Sipping and savoring handcrafted wine produced from multi-generational wine growers and passionate Lodi California winemakers is an excellent way to spend a pleasant wine tourism vacation in Northern California. In addition to the wineries mentioned this far in this post, you can also check out: Vino con Brio at Amarosa Vineyards, Jessie’s Grove, Delicato Family Vineyards, Oal Ridge Winery and Klinker Brick.

Lodi California 379 Lodi California 658

Lizzy James Old Vine Zinfandel

Lizzy James Old Vine Zinfandel

Historically, Lodi is best known as the full-bodied “Zinfandel Capital of the World” with many vines that are over 100 years old. It is the home of the famous Seven Deadly Zins. More recently, the “Lodi Native” project is releasing some incredibly luscious old vine Zinfandel wines.

The six premier Lodi Native Wines

The six premier Lodi Native Wines

Schmiedt Ranch 2013 Zinfandel

Schmiedt Ranch 2013 Zinfandel

Many Lodi wines are sold exclusively at the respective winery. From the vineyards to the Tasting Rooms, there are plenty of wine tourism opportunities in Lodi.

There are plenty of Vino con Vista opportunities in Lodi

There are plenty of Vino con Vista opportunities in Lodi

Lodi AVAs Lodi California 512

 

Lodi is predominately a red winegrowing region (“approximately two-thirds of the acreage is dedicated to red varieties”). More recently, Lodi vintners are increasingly winning awards for their Rhone and Mediterranean style varietals. In addition to Zinfandel, Lodi is currently the nation’s leading producer of several popular varieties including: Chardonnay, Sauvingnon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has over 100 varieties in production.

Lodi offers a vast portfolio of diverse wines. Lodi’s 100,000 acres of deep loam in the AVAs and the desirable Mediterranean climate creates numerous microclimates that allow an incresingly larger variety of grapes and award-winning wines to thrive. The soil is similar to the French Region of Chateauneuf du Pape. Lodi winemakers are winning awards for their Rhone and Mediterranean varietals.

Here’s a list of varietals from the Lodi Wine Commission’s website:

Wine grapes from Lodi

Wine grapes from Lodi

Spanish Varieties:

Albariño, Verdejo, Graciano, Tempranillo, and Garnacha are just a few of the interesting Spanish varieties grown in Lodi soils.

Portuguese Varieties:

Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão, Souzão, Verdelho, and Tricadeira are grownfinding a natural home in the The wines being produced from these vineyards are utterly delicious. Vibrant, intriguing and refreshing flavors make these varietal wines well worth seeking out.

German Varieties:

Kerner, Bacchus, Riesling, Dornfelder, Gewürztraminer, and Zweigelt some of the German varieties grown in Lodi.

Italian Varieties

Barbera, Aglianco, Sangiovese, Teroldego, and Vermentino made me feel like I was field-tasting in Italy.

Southern Rhone

Cinsault, Viognier, Syrah, Picpoul Blanc, Tannat and many others are grown in Lodi.

Made from Cinsaut grapes in Lodi

Made from Cinsaut grapes in Lodi

Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

Lodi Arch welcomes visitors to the charming downtown shopping area

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Wine Map of France

Wine Map of France

To learn more about Lodi visit:

http://www.lodiwine.com/About-Lodi

http://www.lodiwine.com/Wineries

Book a room at the luxurious Wine and Rose Hotel and Spa on Turner Road www.winerose.com  and I’ll meet you at next year’s Zinfest.

http://www.zinfest.com/

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Pictures of Diverse Varietals from Around the World (Courtesy of the Lodi Wine Commission)

 

Spanish Varietals in Lodi

Portuguese Varietals Lodi

German Varietals Lodi

Italian Varietals Lodi

Rhone Style Varietals Lodi

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Plenty of Vino con Vista Reasons to Visit Napa County California

English: Napa Valley Opus One If used outside ...

English: Napa Valley Opus One If used outside of Wikipedia please credit Photographer: D Ramey Logan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love Brother Timothy’s Corkscrew collection in the CIA in St. Helena

“New data from Wines & Vines magazine confirm solid growth in the North American wine industry during 2013. The number of wineries grew to 8,391, a gain of 4.3%. U.S. wineries showed two other signs of health as their combined production increased 6.3% and the winery average bottle price rose from $9 to $10.85.

The United States now has 7,762 wineries, led by California with 3,674. Canada has 568 wineries, having gained more than 8%. The net change in North American wineries was 345.

Bonded wineries have their own brick-and-mortar production sites, while virtual wineries have brand names and produce wine at host facilities.”

There are 16 sub-appellations in Napa where you can pamper your wine-loving inner foodie! Walk in the footsteps of Napa’s legendary wine pioneers.

Famous Napa Valley Sign

NAPA 2012

NAPA 2012 (Photo credit: cdorobek)

Read more at: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=127266 Copyright © Wines & Vines

Napa Valley and Sonoma County are wine regions in California with plenty of Vino con Vista wine tourism opportunities. There are more than 450 wineries in Napa Valley. Visit the Vitner’s Hall of Fame in the Barrel Room of the Culinary Institute in St. Helena.

English: Napa Valley Opus One If used outside ...

English: Napa Valley Opus One If used outside of Wikipedia please credit Photographer: D Ramey Logan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Vineyard in Napa Valley

English: Vineyard in Napa Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the world of wine, matching grapes with microclimates and soils is the key to effective business. In addition, those grapes always grow in the most beautiful places. The grape-growing locations provide plenty of incredible Vino con Vista touring and tasting opportunities for travel and wine tourism enthusiasts.

Napa Cellars Winery

Napa Cellars Winery (Photo credit: Jason DeRusha)

Napa’s wineries have plenty of Tasting Rooms in 30 miles. Take Highway 29 in one direction and return on the Silverado Trail.

English: Napa Valley OpusVines Photo D Ramey L...

English: Napa Valley OpusVines Photo D Ramey Logan If used outside of Wikipedia please PUBLISH the credit as: Photographer: D Ramey Logan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cellar at Rubicon

Cellar at Rubicon (Photo credit: K. Todd Storch)

Watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faJXSEV3CsU&feature=share&list=UUmEEAs7e-TiVN0efAthHw-Q

English: Autumn in Napa Valley

English: Autumn in Napa Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think autumn is the most beautiful time of year in the Napa Valley; the vines are golden, russet and burgundy and the trees sparkle in the bodies of water.

Here are some of the Napa Valley regions (subappellations/AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) with distinct microclimates and terrain for you to visit.

The Wine Cellar at Hess Winery

The Wine Cellar at Hess Winery (Photo credit: don j schulte @ oxherder arts)

There are plenty of luxury hotels and resorts with many fine dinig opportunities along the way including:

www.meadowwood.com

www.Bardessono.com

www.napariverinn.com

www.ranchocaymus.com

www.napavalleylodge.com

English: Vineyards in Napa Valley. Français : ...

English: Vineyards in Napa Valley. Français : Vignobles de la Napa Valley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Approximate location of the Carneros AVA (red ...

Approximate location of the Carneros AVA (red box) in relation to San Pablo Bay. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Napa Valley

Napa Valley (Photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman)

Napa Valley is an appellation and it received its own AVA designation in 1981. It is California’s first recognized AVA and the second in the United States. Within the Napa Valley appellation, there are 16 subappellations, including: Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Chiles Valley District, Coombsville, Diamond Mountain District, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Spring Mountain District, Stags Leap District, Yountville and Wild Horse Valley.

Cabernet grapes growing in the vineyards of th...

Cabernet grapes growing in the vineyards of the Napa Valley winery of Opus One. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are plenty of outstanding wineries with tasting rooms in the Napa Valley. Sometimes you need reservations so call in advance.

Tudal Winery

Tudal has a lovely outdoor space where you can have a tasting with the wine maker.

Tudal Wine maker was very informative!

I loved that Tudal Wine from St. Helena!

The following summary of the subappellations is from the Wine Growers Association website:

For an outstanding Vino con Vista, check out the pool at Arger-Martucci in St. Helena at 1455 Inglewood Ave.

Arger-Martucci in St. Helena

Arger-Martucci Pool in St. Helena

My favorite Napa Map

The Atlas Peak AVA

The California wine region of Atlas Peak in th...

The California wine region of Atlas Peak in the Napa Valley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vineyards in the California wine region of Atl...

Vineyards in the California wine region of Atlas Peak in the Napa Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Climate: Cool, mountain-influenced, with temperatures about 10 to 15°F cooler than the Valley floor in summer. Above the fog line, there is a low diurnal change, with summer temperatures rarely above 90°F (32.2°C). Elevation: 760 to 2600 ft (231m to 792m). Rainfall: 38 inches (96cm) annually. Soils: Volcanic in origin, with basaltic red color, shallow with limited water retention, so irrigation is often essential.
Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon: Bright berry and cherry fruit, and more acidity than wines from Stags Leap District. Chardonnay: Crisp, floral, aromatic, with distinctive pear-mineral flavors and bright acidity.

The Calistoga AVA is one of my favorites!! You can even visit the Old Faithful Geyser.

Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga

California - Calistoga: Schramsberg Vineyard

California – Calistoga: Schramsberg Vineyard (Photo credit: wallyg)

Go to Castello di Amorosa and you feel like you have been transported to Tuscany. Make sure to visit Chateau Montelena; they won the Judgement of Paris for Mike Grgich Chardonnay. Visit the beautiful gazebo and tranquill Jade Lake on the property.

Jade Lake

Jade Lake (Photo credit: maureen lunn)

Chateau Montelena in Calistoga

Chateau Montelena in Calistoga

Barrels infront of Chateau Montelena in Calistoga

California vineyard in Calistoga, Napa Valley

California vineyard in Calistoga, Napa Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Visit the Sterling Winery via ski lift. This is an outstanding Vino con Vista Opportunity!!!

Sterling has the best winery tour in Napa!

Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga

Sterling’s Terrace; take the ski lift to this panoramic view of Napa!

Climate: Warm to hot, depending upon time of year; lower humidity; summer temperatures peak to 90°F (32.2°C) and fall to low 50s°F (11°C), the result of marine air from the northwest; cool afternoon and evening breezes Elevation: 300 to 1200 ft (92 to 370m) Rainfall: 38 to 60 inches (96.5 to 150cm) annually Soils: Almost completely of volcanic origin, soils range from rocky, stony loam on the hillsides, to gravelly or cobbly loams on the alluvial fans, to heavier clay-silt soils in the valley center areas.

Principal varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah.”

The Chiles Valley District AVA

“Climate: Fairly warmer summer days (mid-80°F plus/28.8 to 31°C), but due to higher elevation and summer fog at night, quite chilly at night (below 50°F/10°C). With colder winters and spring, as well as strong winds, harvest comes later than on valley floor at Oakville. Elevation: 800 to 1300 ft. (242 to 394m). Rainfall: 35 inches (88cm) annually. Soils: On the valley floor, primarily alluvial soils with silty-clay composition of marine origin, with good fertility. Hillsides show more clay-loam and stony-clay composition, mostly marine in origin, with some volcanic outcropping, and less fertility.”

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc: Cabernets usually reveal a lush yet firm texture with good acidity, firm tannin and distinctive cherry-blackberry flavors. Merlot typically has vibrant black cherry flavors mixed with a touch of cocoa.

Coombsville is the newest AVA

“Climate: Temperate climate moderated by near-proximity to the San Francisco Bay and the influences of marine air Elevation: Most vineyards are in the 100-500 foot (30-150 m) zone, though a small portion tops 1000 feet (300 m) Rainfall:  Average rainfall is 24.6 inches (62 cm) per year over the last 100 years Soils: Primarily weathered volcanic rock and alluvial deposits from the Vaca Range that surrounds the region.”

Principal varieties: Dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon on the hillsides with Merlot, Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir in the lower, cooler sites

The Diamond Mountain District AVA

The California wine region Diamond Mountain Di...

The California wine region Diamond Mountain District AVA in Napa Valley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Climate: Moderately warm temperatures with lower maximum temperatures and higher minimum temperatures than north Napa Valley floor, due to topography and altitude. Significantly cooler than valley floor near Calistoga, 50 to 95°F in growing season (10 to 32°C). Elevation: 400 to 2200 ft. (130 to 530m) Rainfall: 40 to 55 inches (135cm) annually. Soils: Residual uplifted soils of volcanic origin, often reddish and very fine-grained, even gritty in texture, composed of both weathered sedimentary and volcanic origin.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc: firmly structured, rich and fairly tannic when young, with strong blackcurrant, mineral, and cedary flavors. Less supple and fleshy than valley or benchland wines, with good aging potential. Chardonnay: Full-bodied, yet revealing mineral, green apple-peach aromas with fairly firm acidity; less richly textured than valley floor wines.

The Howell Mountain AVA

Climate: Similar to the facing Spring Mountain AVA, however slightly warmer and dryer overall due to strong afternoon sun influence. Fairly cool nights in both ranges and higher elevations help maintain good acidity. Elevation: 600 to 2200 ft (184 to 675m). Rainfall: 40 to 50 inches (125cm) annually. Soils: Predominantly volcanic, shallow and infertile. Drainage is high, fertility low.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel: Powerful, firm, blackberry-currant flavors and often richly tannic, with excellent acidity for aging. Chardonnay, Viognier: Sinewy, firm and not as fruity as those of the valley floor, revealing more citrus and stone fruit flavors.

Los Carneros AVA will present some outstanding Pinot Noir tasting opportunities!

Visit Etude, Acacia and Cline on your way to San Francisco..

“Climate: Cool, with prevailing marine winds from the San Pablo Bay and through the Petaluma Gap to the west. High temperatures during summer rarely exceed 80°F (27°C) with less diurnal range variation. Elevation: 15 to 400 ft. (4.6 to124 m) Rainfall: Lowest in Napa Valley: 18 to 24 inches (7.2 to 9.6cm) annually. Soils: Clay dominated, very shallow in general, with more loam and hillside alluvials in the northern section. Yields typically are restrained by the hard claypan subsoil, which prevents deep-rooting.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Chardonnay: minerally pear-apple and spice flavors. Merlot: sinewy and lightly herbal, with fine tannins and sleek structure. Pinot Noir: ripe cherry-cinnamon spice flavors with earthy notes.”

Mount Veeder AVA is the home of the Hess Collection Winery where they still lease some land from the Christian Brothers. Take time to visit Mount Vedeer Winery.

English: Napa valley vineyard Français : Vigno...

English: Napa valley vineyard Français : Vignoble de Napa Valley, Comté de Napa, Californie, États-Unis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Climate: Cool to moderate, with most vineyards above the fog-line, meaning warmer nights and cooler days and less diurnal range than the valley floor. Typical mid-summer high temperatures about 85°F (30°C). Elevation: 600 to 2100 ft. (183 to 650m). Rainfall: 35 inches (87.5cm) annually. Soils: Sedimentary based, former seabed, shallow and generally well drained, as well as more acidic, with low fertility. Most have a sandy or sandy-loam texture.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Ageability is a hallmark of Mt. Veeder wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel: Low yields give red wines a firm, tannic structure with strong earth-berry aromas and rich, but powerful flavors. Chardonnay: minerally, appley, even citrus flavors with good acidity.

Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley AVA

Climate: Moderate to cool: marine air and fog can remain until mid-morning. Late afternoon breezes frequently occur, maintaining slightly cooler temperatures than upper valley. Mid-summer temperatures may reach 92° F (33.3°C) and drop to around 50°F (10°C) at night. Elevation: sea level to 800 feet (244m) Rainfall: 36 inches (90cm) annually. Soils: The valley’s largest alluvial fan formed by Dry Creek creates the defining feature of the district. The northwest area is composed of volcanically derived soils, with stony or gravelly consistency. South and east areas are transitional from gravel to silty clay loam.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon benefit from a longer growing season with slightly cooler temperature, though crop size is typically less than in other AVAs. Elegant style is the common note with fruit flavors of cassis, tobacco and spice typical to Bordeaux-style reds. Chardonnay showcases flavors of crisp apple, mineral notes and tropical fruit with fine acidity.

Oakville AVA is teaming with Cult Cabs!

Silver Oak Vineyards Cellar Door

Silver Oak Vineyards Cellar Door (Photo credit: kk+)

Visit Silver Oak where a former Christian Brother named Justin Meyer, who studied under iconic Brother Timothy, built a world-class winery! Then head over to Far Niente and Nickel and Nickel.

Opus One Winery was founded as a joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild and Robert Mondavi to create a single Bordeaux style blend based upon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Opus One and Robert Mondavi are across the street from each other in

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes growing in the viney...

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes growing in the vineyard of the Napa Vally winery Opus One. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oakville. As a matter of fact, many of the tasting rooms are within walking distance; you will need alot of time in Oakville. You may want to stop at the Oakville Grocery, a popular dining spot with picnic tables.

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA (Photo credit: jimg944)

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA (Photo credit: jimg944)

California Cabernet from Napa Valley including...

California Cabernet from Napa Valley including Chateau Montelena, Nickel & Nickel & Paul Hobbes in stemless Reidel glasses (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA (Photo credit: jimg944)

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA

Turnbull Wine Cellars, Oakville, California, USA (Photo credit: jimg944)

“Climate: Moderately warm, with temperatures commonly in the mid-90°F (34-35.5°C) range in high summer, but also still strongly affected by night and early morning fog which helps keep acidity levels good.”

Watch this Nickel and Nickel Video:

http://youtu.be/rzJo280O2pY

Opus One Winery

Image of Opus One Winery via Snooth

English: Napa Valley Opus One Photo D Ramey Logan

English: Napa Valley Opus One Photo D Ramey Logan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

East side of the AVA receives more of warmer afternoon sun. Elevation: 75 to 500 ft (23 to 150m). Rainfall: 35 inches (87.5cm) annually. Soils: Primarily sedimentary gravelly alluvial loams on the western side, with more volcanic but heavier soils on the eastern side. Low to moderate fertility and fairly deep, with average water retention.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot: Ripe currant and mint flavors, rich texture and full, firm structure tempered by rich fruit. Sauvignon Blanc: Full, steely, yet very fleshy.

Mike Grgich worked with Brother Timothy and the Christian Brothers Winery before opening his own winery

Rutherford AVA is home to Grgich Hills Estate where you can learn about iconic Mike Grgich from Croatia! There was a documentary about him this year at the Napa Valley Film Festival called “Like the Old Vine.”

Visit the Rubicon Estate, Caymus, Quintessa, Rubicon, Peju, Cakebread and Frog’s Leap. If you’re loooking for bubbles head over to Mumm Napa.

“Climate: Moderately warm, still marginally influenced by early morning fog. Western bench area is cooler, with less late afternoon sun, tempered by afternoon marine winds. (This AVA averages a bit warmer than Oakville and Stags Leap District). Usual summer peak temperatures are mid-90°F (34-35.5°C) with good diurnal range. Elevation: 100 to 500 ft. (33 to 150m). Rainfall: 38 inches (95cm) annually. Soils: Western benchland is sedimentary, gravelly-sandy and alluvial, with good water retention and moderate fertility. The eastern side has more volcanic soils, moderately deep and more fertile.”

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel: Quite intense cherry and mineral, almost earthy aromas. Flavors are full, ripe, and notably currant with firm, but supple tannins for extended aging.

Spring Mountain District AVA is on the way to Santa Rosa.

harvest 2005 Spring Mountain District above th...

harvest 2005 Spring Mountain District above the Napa Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Climate: Similar to Mt. Veeder AVA, with cool weather prevailing and smaller diurnal changes. Fairly cool nights and higher elevations help maintain good acidity. Elevation: 600 to 2200 ft (184 to 675m). Rainfall: 40 to 50 inches (125cm) annually. Soils: Primarily sedimentary; weathered sandstone/shale, loamy and friable in texture. Drainage is high, fertility low.”

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel: Powerful, firm, blackberry-currant flavors and often richly tannic, with excellent acidity for aging. Chardonnay, Viognier: Sinewy, firm and not as fruity as those of the valley floor, revealing more citrus and stone fruit flavors.

The St. Helena AVA is my favorite place to stay in Napa County.

St. Helena

St. Helena (Photo credit: jimforest)

Brother Timothy’s Corkscrew Collection in the Culinary Institute

This appellation covers 9,000 acres towards the northern end of the valley between the Vaca and Mayacamas Mountains.

Charles Krug opened his winery here in 1861. There are more than 50 wineries including Chappellet, Duckhorn and Heitz Cellars.

If you walk over to Gott’s Roadside Grill, you will find two interesting wineries: Merryvale and Bello. You may want to have a burger while you’re there-it’s an incredibly popular spot!

My favorite Napa Map

I loved the  Merryvale Syrah and their Cabs were incredible!

Merryvale Winery

Check out the fabulous red wine bottle chandelier and  the Cab named after their award-winning racehorse name Megahertz. The swanky new tasting room at Bello Family Winery was so elegant!

Megahertz from Bello Winery

Bello Winery in St. Helena

V. Sattui Winery

There are so many interesting places to visit in St. Helena. Stop at V. Sattui for wine and a picnic. Dine at their popular Italian Deli.

Don’t miss Duckhorn, another one of my favorites! I love when they host wine dinners in Chicago.

Take time to visit the Corison Kronos Vineyard at the Winery on St. Helena Highway.

Corison

Corison

Corison

Corison in St. Helena

In St. Helena you can also visit: Louis Martini, Joseph Plelps, Charles Krug, Tudal and Heitz. Plan to spend alot of time in this incredible AVA.

Don’t miss the fabulous Beringer Mansion at 2000 Main Street. They are having a holiday open house on December 8th from 11 am to 4 pm. Visit www.beringer.com/events for details. Then walk next door to Greystone Cellars, the former Christian Brothers Winery in St. Helena. Today it is the home of the Culinary Institute of America.

English: Greystone Cellars. 2555 Main Street. ...

Napa County Seal

Napa County Seal (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

Dine at Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at The Culinary Institute at 2555 St. Helena Hwy. Don’t forget to visit Brother Timothy’s Cork Screw Collection; housed in this former Christian Brothers stone castle.

Brother Timothy’s Corkscrew Collection in the Culinary Institute

I also liked the comfort food at French Blue at 1429 Main Street, right in the heart of town. Meadowood has two restaurants in their swanky resort at 900 Meadowood Lane.

English: Fall in Napa Valley

English: Fall in Napa Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Climate: Warm, due to greater protection from western hills, with less fog or wind incursions. The narrowing of the valley floor provides more heat reflection off the hillsides. Mid-summer temperature peak is often in the mid- to high-90°F range (34 to 35°C). Elevation: 150 to 600 ft. (46 to 185m). Rainfall: 38 to 40 inches (95 to 100cm) annually. Soils: South and west borders are more sedimentary, gravel-clay soils, with lower fertility and moderate water retention. Further north and to the east soils are prevalently volcanic in origin and are deeper and more fertile.”

Principal varieties and characteristics: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot: deep, ripe, often jammy flavors, with firm tannins for structure, and appealing aromas of currant and black fruit. Rhone varieties (Syrah, Viognier): Fleshy, supple and slightly earthy. Zinfandel: Blackberry-like, well-structured.

bottle of stag's leap cabernet sauvignon Franç...

bottle of stag’s leap cabernet sauvignon Français : bouteille de cabernet sauvgnon stag’s leap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stags Leap District AVA is the home of the Stag’s LeapWine Cellars. Check out Chimney Rock and Clos du Val in thisw AVA.

Climate: Moderately warm, with afternoon marine winds acting as an ‘air-conditioner’ to cool the warmer air radiating off the bare rocks of Stags Leap itself and the surrounding hillsides. This AVA is often up to 10°F warmer than in Yountville AVA. Mid-summer temperatures can reach 100°F (37.7°C), but more regularly are in mid-90° range (32-34°C). Elevation: 66 to 400 ft. (20 to 123m). Rainfall: 30 inches (75cm) annually. Soils: Volcanic gravel-loams on the floor of the valley, with rocky hillsides, and low to moderate fertility due to hard clay bedrock subsoils 2 to 6 feet down.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese: Distinguished by lush, velvety textures and fine perfumed cherry and red berry flavors, supported by soft tannins. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc: Round and ripe, especially Sauvignon Blanc, yet retain excellent citrus and apple flavors.

Wild Horse Valley AVA

Climate: A warmer area well to the east of Napa Valley proper, but still moderated by both altitude and prevailing winds coming off Suisun Bay to the southeast. Elevation: Wild Horse Valley 400 to 1500 ft. (123 to 460m). Rainfall: 35 inches (94cm) annually. Soils: Volcanic in origin, with basaltic red color, shallow with limited water retention, so irrigation is often essential.

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese: Bright berry and cherry fruit, and more acidity than wines from Stags Leap District. Chardonnay: Crisp, floral, aromatic, with distinctive pear-mineral flavors and bright acidity.

Yountville is the home of many Michelin restaurants.

The line never ends at the Bouchon Bakery next to the restaurant with the same name. Make reservations way in advance if you plan on dining at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Yountville.Visit the garden across the street from the restaurant where some of the farm-to-table produce grows. There’s plenty of shopping at V Market in Yountville. Check out Hurley’s for casual dining. Visit the Jessup winery, Hope and Grace and the Hill Family Estate.

Domaine Chandon

You can also check out Domaine Chandon in Yountville; everyone loves that place! Dine at their etoile-Domaine Chandon Restaurant at 1 California Drive. You will love the art collection in this winery.

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon

“Climate: Moderate, with definite cool marine influence and fog contributing to cool summer mornings and the marine breeze keeping afternoons more comfortable than further up valley. Mid-summer peak temperatures may reach 90°F (32.2°C), with noticeable diurnal fluctuation to the mid-50°F range (13°C). Elevation: 20 to 200 ft (6 to 61m). Rainfall: 32 inches (80cm) annually. Soils: Principally gravelly silt loams, sedimentary in origin, and gravelly alluvial soils with rock, moderately fertile.”

Principal varieties & characteristics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot: Yountville favors Cabernet and Merlot with ripe, violety aromas and rich, but supple flavors and firm tannins.”

Ramey

Ramey (Photo credit: Jonathan Caves)

Foodies will love the 13 Napa Valley restaurants that were included in the 2013 Michelin Guide. Many of them are on Washington Street in Yountville; the restaurant row of Napa County.

Here they are:

Three Stars “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”
Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Yountville at 6640 Washington Street
The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena

One Star “A very good restaurant in its category”
Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford
Bouchon in Yountville at 6534 Washington Street

Trefethen’s 1976 Chardonnay earned best Chardonnay in the world at the 1979 Gault Millau World Wine Olympics in Paris.

La Toque in Napa at the Westin Verasa

Westin Verasa

Westin Verasa

Some of the other Michelin restaurants are:

Redd in Yountville at 6480 Washington Street
Solbar in Calistoga
Terra in St. Helena

Napa Wine Train

Napa Valley Wine Train, Napa Valley, Californi...

Napa Valley Wine Train, Napa Valley, California, USA (Photo credit: jimg944)

Join me for lunch on the Napa Valley Wine Train for a Vino con Vista from Napa to Calistoga. Hop on right by Oxbow Market.

Salute from www.vino-con-vista.com Travel Guides.

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