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California Vineyards Tour 2016

Tags: wine

There are so many wines, varieties and regions in California (the fourth largest Wine producing area in the world after Spain, France and Italy) that figuring out where to go and what to taste can be daunting. Aside from taking a tour, one of the best ways to get acquainted with an area is by attending a local wine festival. Think of it as Wine-Recon, a most delightful way to gather insight and information on local wineries in a short span of time. From large-scale food and wine fests to small, quirky events focused on specific wines such as Pinot Noir, sparkling, or Rhônes, wine festivals can cater to both the casual wine fan seeking a few hours of food and fun, as well as to the experienced wine enthusiast determined to discover the next great grape producer. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Livermore, Santa Cruz Mountains The most famous California wine region by far is in Northern California. Napa Valley is known around the world for its exceptional wines, and draws more visitors than any other area. The quintessential wine country experience was perfected here, with more than 300 wineries vying for your taste buds along Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the signature grapes grown in the valley, but other varieties have been making a strong showing in the last decade.

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While the majority of visitors go to the big-name wineries such as Robert Mondavi, Beringer and Sterling, those in the know are heading for Coombsville. Located just minutes from downtown Napa, Coombsville’s unusual cool climate results in sensational Cabernets from grower/producers such as Meteor, Sodaro, Caldwell and Farella. Most are open by appointment only, but well worth the effort to call and go. Foodies and wine lovers will want to check out Flavor! Napa Valley, an annual event featuring world class Napa Valley wines alongside food prepared by the master chefs and graduates of The Culinary Institute of America at the Greystone Campus in St. Helena. The Valley’s most famous event, Auction Napa Valley is the place to hob-nob with serious wine collectors in a weekend of intimate soirees, casual luncheons and grand tastings, culminating with the auction, where bids on exclusive wine lots reach the stratosphere for a worthy cause. Prefer something more pastoral? Wind your way up Highway 128 in Mendocino County to Anderson Valley, the premier growing region in Mendocino, and stop in at the The Madrones, a wine-tasting and luxury lodging “suite spot” that showcases local wines from Drew, Bink, Knez and Signal Ridge. Just up the road from the The Madrones you’ll find the Baxter Winery tasting room, a must stop for outstanding Pinot Noir from a father and son winemaking team. Anderson Valley hosts two exceptional festivals, the highly regarded Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Fest in May, and the Alsace Fest in February, focusing on Alsace-style white wines including Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat. Farther inland, Passport to Hopland, a true locals event, is held twice a year in spring and fall. In Sonoma County, Healdsburg reigns as the king of the tasting rooms in California. Local under-the-radar favorites include Banshee, Stark and Cartograph. Healdsburg is also home to one of the most eclectic wine events of the year—the uber hip 7% Solution Fest dedicated to rare, lesser grown grape varieties with extremely limited production

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California Vineyards Tour 2016


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