Displaying items by tag: Wine Tasting
TASTE News Service, February 10, 2021 - Wine Road is a destination marketing association of wineries and lodgings in Northern Sonoma County.
TASTE News Service, June 10, 2020 - It's a beautiful time of year in Napa Valley and wineries are once again welcoming guests to their tasting rooms.
TASTE News Service November 1, 2015 - Visit Oakland, the city's destination marketing organization, has announced the debut of the Oakland Urban Wine Trail, showcasing 10 wineries within the city's limits. The wineries cover a 10-mile radius throughout Oakland and the trail is walkable and easily accessible by public transportation.
What makes Oakland's trail unique? Variety in an already different location. Oakland's urban wineries are housed in renovated warehouses and offers visitors tasting rooms in industrial neighborhoods, artist community spaces, and even waterfront locations. Oakland vintners source their grapes from throughout California and bring a unique Oakland flavor to the trail, influenced by their different backgrounds and winemaking experiences.
TASTE News Service August 13, 2015 – Wine lovers and outdoor enthusiasts can choose sip, swirl, hike and savor a historically rich experience in El Dorado wine country. Located between Sacramento and Reno/Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County is home to more than 40 unique wineries and 2,000 acres of vineyard landscape.
Visitors can explore the region by driving picturesque country roads that wind from sleepy historic mining towns to steep hilltop vineyards. Adventurous travelers can plan for summer outdoor activities that include hiking, cycling, river rafting, fishing and gold panning.
Wine lovers will enjoy a mix of stunning vistas, rugged adventure and Gold Rush history paired with quaint tasting rooms of family-owned wineries that are producing some excellent wines.
There’s plenty to do in this area just east of Sacramento. Here are some suggestions for a three-day wine adventure:
Day 1: Fun in Fair Play
· Take in the mountainous, magical terrain of Fair Play, nestled in the Sierra,Foothills at elevations ranging between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. Picnic, hike, and discover “wines with altitude.”
· A short drive south of Placerville, the vineyards in Fair Play are planted in sandy, decomposed granite soils, which are ideal for many grape varieties.
· Tip: Enjoy views, which can span nearly 100 miles, from the patio at Mount Aukum Vineyard and Winery. The curvy steep road up to the tasting room is worth the trip to truly experience high elevation winemaking.
· Fun Country Drive: The Fair Play area features dramatic transitions – from rolling hills full of oaks into striking mountainous pine forests. Drive Fair Play Road or Perry Creek Road for the complete experience.
Day 2: Bite into Apple Hill
· Enjoy the wine offerings of this bucolic wine area as you take in its agricultural splendor. Some of the area’s most historic and well-known wineries are located in Camino and Apple Hill, which sit just northeast of Placerville.
· Foodies will find the diverse agricultural tourism activities a must. Summer brings an array of foods from berries, peaches, pears, plums and an assortment of vegetables that can be purchased directly from farmers at local farmers markets.
“Whether picking cherries, visiting local ranches, or exploring a range of unique wineries, there is always something new to taste and discover at Apple Hill,” said Ann Wofford, owner of Wofford Acres Vineyards.
· Tip: Even the little ones can get in on the you-pick fun. Don’t forget your picking basket.
· Fun Country Drive: Apple Hill meanders through old fruit orchards into vineyards hidden among the oak trees. Drive Hidden Valley Lane to capture this magical region.
Day 3: A Perfect Day in Pleasant Valley
· Sip, sip, hooray! Italian and Rhône varietals await visitors at the Pleasant Valley wineries. Located just south of Placerville, Pleasant Valley is marked with rolling hills, small farms and views of the Cosumnes River Canyon.
· This portion of the region boasts marked elevation changes, which results in impressive displays of the various soils types that make up El Dorado. From granite, volcanic to clay, the region’s soils and elevations create a unique setting for its diverse vineyards.
· Tip: Like Syrah, Grenache or Viognier? Try some of the Rhône varieties from this pocket of El Dorado; Pleasant Valley is gaining attention for its Rhône-inspired wines.
· Fun Country Drive: this region sits in a valley between two mountain ranges. Drive Pleasant Valley Road to experience the remarkable harmony between mountains, vineyards and agriculture.
Fun & Favorite Side trip in El Dorado
· All wineries in El Dorado are located within half an hour of Placerville, a Gold Rush town with historic downtown that features farm-to-table restaurants and main street shopping.
· Tip: Driving north from Placerville on Hwy 49, bring the kids to visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, where James Sutter first discovered gold in 1848. A perfect place for a bike ride, hike or a family picnic.
Editor’s note: A comprehensive source of information on wineries is www.eldoradowines.org. If you’re planning a visit to this part of the state, we suggest that you visit El Dorado County listings in the Gold Country sections of Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of many Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of Wineries and nearby purveyors of Craft Beers.
Sonoma County was named the top wine destination in the U.S. by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards in October, 2012
According to TripAdvisor, award winners were determined based on their popularity as wine destinations, taking into account travelers' reviews and opinions for local wineries, restaurants, attractions and accommodations.
Rounding out the top 10 were Napa Valley, Calif., Willamette Valley, Ore., Finger Lakes, NY, Long Island, NY, Paso Robles, Calif., Temecula Valley, Calif., Walla Walla, Wash., Palisade, Colo., and Plymouth, Calif.
Sonoma County, located 30 miles from San Francisco, provides an adventurous wine country experience, featuring more than 370 wineries, 100-plus organic farms, and 55 miles of Pacific coast.
"Sonoma County may not produce as much wine as nearby Napa, but what it lacks in volume, it more than makes up for in variety," stated TripAdvisor. "You'll find everything from Chardonnay to Zinfandel here, and TripAdvisor travelers love the laid-back, unpretentious vibe of the wineries. After a strenuous day of wine-tasting, spoil yourself at one of the many local spas."
Ken Fischang, president/CEO of Sonoma County Tourism, said, "This honor shows that Sonoma County is a world-class wine region. Millions of users of TripAdvisors have recognized us for the authentic experiences we provide to independent and adventurous travelers. We are very thankful to all those TripAdvisor users who selected Sonoma County as the top wine country in the United States."
Sonoma County provides a genuine, independent, and adventurous wine country experience. Travelers find millions of reasons to visit Sonoma County, including 1 million acres of pristine, rugged land, more than 370 wineries, 55 miles of stunning Pacific coast, over 40 spas, dozens of regional and state parks, and 500-plus eateries.
"Sonoma County is inviting, open and welcoming," said Tim Zahner, director of public relations and marketing for Sonoma County Tourism. "I think the savvy travelers of TripAdvisor recognized that and it is reflected in what they say about us. From the slopes of the Mayacamas to the redwood forests to the beaches along the Pacific coastline, we offer new experiences around every corner and small towns worth discovering."
TravMedia sources contributed to this article.
Editor's note: Visitors to Sonoma County can access links to the websites of all the wineries there, as well as sites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. Also in that section is a new directory of hundreds of California brewpubs and other craft beer-oriented businesses.
The Old Sugar Mill wine mall has added two area wineries -- Due Vigne di Famiglia and The Dragon & Chicken, home of Draconis Wines by Matt Powell -- making a total of ten tasting rooms. "This makes us a major U.S. wine destination," according to John Beckman, General Manager of the Mill and president of the Clarksburg Wine Company. They join Carvalho Family Winery, Clarksburg Wine Company, Elevation Ten, Heringer Estates, Merlo Family Vineyards, Rendezvous Winery, Three Wine Company and Todd Taylor Wines.
Beckman said, “When Sacramentans think of wine and wine country, we want them to think of the Old Sugar Mill first. The addition of these two fine wineries just adds to the breadth and depth of our existing and outstanding offerings for our guests. And while we love when folks come out here to spend the day, we are so close to downtown and midtown, you can come out here at the spur of the moment – no advance planning required!”
Due Vigne di Famiglia wines are produced by two area families: the Mussos with a generation of growing Italian varietals in El Dorado County; and the Houle family, which uses Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and Malbec for classic Cabernet and Meritage bottlings. Musso family wines include the rare Dolcetto and Nebbiolo varieties, plus Primitivo, Barbera and Petite Syrah, a Clarksburg area specialty.
Draconis by Matt Powell has its first public sales site at the Mill. According to Powell, Draconis has been an "underground winery -- known only to its mailing list -- and for its crafted, handmade wines in the old style" by its Burgundian-trained winemaker. Known for intense and silky smoothness, the wines are made in the "Reductionist" style, specializing in 100 percent Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Syrah.Beckman added, "Matt Powell is pioneering the use of our large attractive campus by new wineries who will be moving in; it's the first winery not in the Gallery itself. We're seeing the kind of strolling that you find downtown."
The Old Sugar Mill has seen three years of increased traffic for events and winery sales, Beckman said. "We're a go-to site for everyone in the Sacramento area and are drawing from the Bay Area and throughout the state."
The Old Sugar Mill is located at 35265 Willow Avenue in the historic town of Clarksburg, fifteen minutes southwest of the Capitol building in Sacramento. Open seven days a week; individual wineries' hours vary. For further information on wineries and events visit www.oldsugarmill.com.
Sources at PRWeb contributed to this article.
Editor's note: Visiting wineries in California? Taste California Travel's Resource Directory contains links to the websites of all of the state's wineries, as well as links to thousands of Lodging and Dining options.
A MOVEABLE THIRST: Tales and Tastes from a season Napa Wine Country
By Rick Kushman and Hank Beal
Wiley Paperback Hoboken, N.J. 2007ISBN-13: 978-0-471-79386-1
336 pages, $18.95
Napa County, the crown jewel of the California winemaking industry, has somewhere in the neighborhood of 475 wineries. The seemingly Sisyphean task of cataloging, visiting and reviewing each of these has been cheerfully undertaken by authors Rick Kushman and Hank Beal with their new book, “A Moveable Thirst.”
The bona fides of the authors are more than sufficient to the task. Since this is also a buddy story one is tempted to pigeonhole them with a simplistic Abbott and Costello-like characterization, but that would be inaccurate because they make a formidable team for their purpose. Kushman is the Sacramento Bee television columnist who brings his extensive journalistic credentials to the table. Beal is the head wine and liquor buyer and for the Northern California Nugget Market chain. Kushman has the role of the wine novice whose thirst for all knowledge wine related is steadily quaffed as Beal, the straightman, parses out the knowledge in satisfying portions.
The first half of the book explores the Napa Valley itself, physically and culturally, devoting chapters to each of the 11 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) that lie within Napa. These are officially designated regions that have been determined to possess growing conditions that produce uniquely identifiable wines. The second half is the nuts and bolts portion listing wineries by region with salient information visitors will need to know when paying a call. The book offers a lot of tips and useful tidbits that will help visitors prepare for a visit and choose where to go.
Guidebooks have an inherent drawback in that the “use by” date often passes quickly after publication. Given the explosive growth of the wine industry and the attendant tourism in Napa this could prove problematic for such a guidebook. But that would be to miss the point since the book offers much more than maps and vital statistics of wineries (those can be found at the Convention and Visitors Bureau). Kushman’s self-deprecating perspective is front and center here and it works because most of us fall into his camp, that is, we arrive armed mostly with ignorance. It is also reassuring to those who might otherwise be intimidated by the thought of tackling the mysterious and venerated world of wine. Again, Kushman’s light touch delivers the appropriate irreverence necessary to remove the intimidation of the subject brought on by the fatuous wine writing with which most people are familiar. Kushman strips away the chimera of pretentiousness and replaces it with the useful idea of learning and having fun.
One criticism I have here is that the book tends to be too generous in its appraisal of the serving staffs at wineries, too often describing them as knowledgeable and well-grounded in wine. My own experience is that, while that may be true of the mom-and-pop wineries, the larger places are geared to serve a multitude of visitors and their servers are inclined to engage in patter that is too practiced and comes off as programmed information rather than genuine knowledge.
One comes away from “A Moveable Thirst” with an appreciation for the manners and mores of the wine culture of the Napa Valley. More importantly, they remind us that it is supposed to be fun and interesting. Although our intrepid authors did indeed undertake a Sisyphean task, they reveal the slope to be not too steep after all.
--reviewed by Michael Eady
How to Taste: A Guide to Enjoying Wine
by Jancis Robinson
Simon & Schuster
208 pages; $25.
My Christmas wish for 2001 is that every customer would receive a copy of "How to Taste." Instead of hearing "I only drink Cabernet" or "They make a red Zinfandel, too?" it just might be "I’d like to compare a Marlborough with a Sancerre!"
Jancis Robinson’s "How to Taste, A Guide to Enjoying Wine" is a perfect gift for the wine novice who wants to increase his knowledge and enjoyment of wine. This book strikes a nice medium between the intimidating "THE OXFORD COMPANION TO WINE" that Robinson edited and the popular wine/travel/seen-and-be-seen wine magazines. I would highly recommend "How to Taste" to those who are new to wine and to my wine clients who are very savvy in certain areas of wine—those very comfortable with a few varietals, but who need to stretch their comfort zone to get a full appreciation of the world of wines.
"How to Taste" takes the reader through a well-constructed wine course that puts the importance on doing, or tasting in this case. Each point in the book is discussed in theory and then applied in practice.
The information at the beginning of each subject gives an excellent base on which the practice builds. Those new to wine will appreciate the easy to understand descriptors of each varietal that will make their reading of subsequent publications more enjoyable. Robinson also addresses subjects such as TCA (the foul-smelling compound trichloroanisole given off by wines stoppered with a tainted cork), storage, serving and judging the overall quality of a wine. Even the well-seasoned wine veteran will learn something new. While not as comprehensive as "The Oxford Companion to Wine," "How to Taste" will make a great resource for any future future wine questions.
As she states repeatedly, tasting is what it is all about. After the theory is a highlighted section on practice. Whether with a group of wine professionals or just the gang over for the evening, "How to Taste" will encourage lively discussion, as readers will discover new facets of their own palates. The emphasis of the practice is to have fun while learning about the wines and improving the ability to assess wines, all the while removing the mystique of wine and making it an everyday addition to the table.
The final chapter discusses food and wine pairings, the rules and how to break them, and a concise glossary that gets the beginner up to speed without approaching wine geek-dom.
Professional and to the point, this guide to enjoying wine will make an excellent addition to any wine library. "With How to Taste," Jancis Robinson confirms her place as one of the premier wine writer today.
--Reviewer Steve Graham is a wine merchant for the Nugget grocery chain in Sacramento, California.
Napa and Sonoma may get all the press, and the Gold Country may have all of that rugged history, but the wine country of California’s Central Valley has its story too. Rightly famous for its rich soils and temperate climate, the Central Valley can produce wines of character that, when compared to some of those other regions, are a great value. You may not be familiar with some of these California wine regions, but they're definitely worth investigating.
Known for its warm days and mild Delta breezes, the wine country of Yolo County yields unforgettable wines of great character and diversity. Here you’ll find outstanding Syrah, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Tempranillo and Cabernet Souvignon, but also lesser-grown varietals such as Viognier, Malbec, Primitivo, and Albarino, plus Sparkling and Port. You’re sure to find something memorable, and affordable, to suit your taste.
Virtually all of Yolo County's some two-dozen wineries are family owned and operated—including major producer Bogle Vineyards in the Clarksburg AVA—making for a more intimate experience for visitors. In the little town of Winters you can sample wines at the tasting rooms of Berryessa Gap and Turkovich Family Wines (also home to the Winters Cheese Company, which offers samples, as well). In Clarksburg, the Old Sugar Mill is a unique, historic venue, housing six tasting rooms representing eight wineries all under one roof!
Yolo County is also home to the U.C. Davis Viticulture and Enology department, as well as the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science
From Clarksburg to Davis, Winters to verdant Capay Valley and Dunnigan Hills, you’ll also enjoy gorgeous scenery, great dining opportunities, and comfortable, welcoming places to stay. For more information about Yolo County wineries and other attractions, visit www.yolocvb.org.
Suisun Valley is rustic wine country, nestled in the unspoiled Solano County farmland between San Francisco and Sacramento. The Suisun Valley appellation was established in 1982, and is nestled between two coastal mountain ranges, southeast of Napa Valley. In this diverse agricultural region are approximately 10 wineries, whose vineyards grow 23 different wine grape varieties. They are best known for their Petite Sirah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you fancy Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Rhone varietals, you must visit Ledgewood Creek, a winery named after the creek that meanders along the northern border of this estate. For lesser known varietals—such as a Malvasia Bianca made in a late harvest style—visit Blacksmith Cellars. And for a rugged, natural experience try Winterhawk Winery, which has placed owl houses and hawk boxes strategically throughout the vineyard, beckoning a wide variety of birds including Red-Tailed Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, Sparrow Hawks, and Northern Harriers.
Besides the wineries, visitors will encounter many farm stands, selling fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and freshly produced olive oils, from family farms that have been handed down for generations. There are also regular, seasonal events that are fun and laid-back. For more information about Suisun Valley wineries, visit www.suisunvalley.com.
Though Lodi has produced wine for well over a hundred years, quality has soared in recent years. Growers have made commitment to the best viticultural practices and they've planted many new varieties to complement the Zinfandel which has always done well here. Located directly east of San Francisco at the edge of the Sacramento River Delta, the Lodi appellation (which has seven sub-appellations) is noted for its classic Mediterranean climate and its distinctive sandy soils. Today you can choose from nearly 80 wineries that call Lodi home, an abundance that’s impossible to bypass.
Lodi is the self-proclaimed Zinfandel Capital of the World, producing more than 40 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel. Many of the region’s most distinctive wines come from the thousands of acres of “old vines”, some dating back to the 1880s. Styles range from medium to full-bodied with intense red and black fruit flavors of cherries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Lodi is predominately a red wine producer with approximately 66 percent of the acreage dedicated to red varieties. For many years it was California’s best kept secret, enhancing the fruit in many of the state’s most popular premium varietal wines. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay account for the lion’s share of the acreage; however with more 60 varieties in commercial production Lodi offers a vast portfolio of exciting wines.
No visit would be complete without a stop at the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center. Here guests can taste from more than 200 Lodi wines and marvel at the hands-on demonstration vineyard.
For more information about Lodi wines, visit www.lodiwine.com.
In the heart of the Central Valley, and a gateway to Yosemite National Park, Fresno is a surprisingly good destination for wine tasting in rambling Madera County. Nearly 20 wineries are open to visitors here, with vintners who are passionate about making the best wines possible.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Chardonnay are the leaders here, but visitors will also find excellent Tempranillo, Albarino, Sangiovese, and Barbera, plus delightful late harvest Zinfandel and luscious ports. Quality is paramount for these largely boutique wineries. For example, Engelmann Cellars focuses on creating hand-crafted reds and blends. Third-generation Ficklin Vineyards specializes in ports, including their lineup of flavored “Passport” wines. Nonini Winery, a fourth-generation family operation established in 1936, has 15 varieties of premium wines and offers a tour of the winery starting with the 1941 Garolla grape crusher from Italy and ends with the finished product resting in redwood tanks/oak barrels.
Two venues give visitors a chance to try several wines at once. Vino & Friends is a downtown Fresno wine store with a changing tasting menu. Also, be sure to stop by Appellation: California Wine Tasting & Visitor Center, which pours products from family owned wineries or vineyards of the Central Valley. The Center also offers wine education classes.
For more information about Fresno wineries and other activities in and around town, visit www.playfresno.org.
Editor's note: Planning a visit to any of the areas mentioned in this article? You'll find links to hundreds of lodging and dining options in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.
While known for the “summer camp” vibe of Guerneville and environs, Sonoma County has grown into a year-round gay and lesbian destination that mixes upscale wine country living with rural charm.
Less than 30 miles north of San Francisco, Sonoma County includes the rugged coast, the celebrated wine country, historic towns and quaint villages. Wine tasting is a top draw, as are spa getaways, sophisticated dining, world-class lodgings, golf and more.
Guerneville, along the Russian River, continues to be a hotspot for fun. The friendly town boasts gay and lesbian bars along its strip, as well as hotels, campgrounds and B&Bs.
Sonoma County offers great activities outside the Russian River area. Wine tasting at one of the more than 300 wineries is popular, as Sonoma County is known for its excellent wines and casual approach to enjoying them. Often the person offering you a taste of the wine is the winemaker herself.
Just north of San Francisco, gay and gay-friendly accommodations abound. Luxury resorts like the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Doubletree Hotel Sonoma Wine Country, Applewood Inn, Gaige House Innand the Vintners Inn offer high-end amenities.
The Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa and Hilton Sonoma Wine Countryoffer centrally located convenience, and the Sheraton Sonoma County - Petaluma has its own marina. Bed & Breakfasts are found in scenic hamlets and the coast. In Guerneville, the Fern Grove Cottages, the Highlands Resort, the Woods Resort, and Russian River Resort are among the places to go. Monte Rio boasts gay-owned Village Inn and Rio Villa Beach Resort.
When hotels and resorts get full, cabin rentals are a good option. Accommodation information can be found at www.sonomacounty.com.
Wine Tasting: World-class wines that consistently garner awards sampled in a friendly, welcoming setting are common to the wine scene in Sonoma County.
Spas: Unique and luxurious spa experiences abound, with wine-country variations using locally grown products like wine, grapes, honey and more for facial and skin treatments.
Dining: Innovative cuisine meets a commitment to fine locally grown and produced products like cheeses, meats, wines, produce and more.
Coast: Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was filmed in Bodega Bay, but you don’t need to be a movie buff to enjoy fresh crab, great food and breathtaking scenery.
Redwoods: The Russian River is more than just gay bars and resorts, as towering redwoods offer quiet walks and cool relief from summer heat. Hiking, biking and kayaking are the order of the day.
Gay and Lesbian Events:
SFPride: One of the world’s largest pride parades and parties takes place less than 30 miles south of Sonoma County in San Francisco. Spend some time in Sonoma’s wineries, check out the Russian River resort area or just chill amongst the redwoods before and after Pride Weekend. www.sfpride.org. June.
Lazy Bear Weekend: For Bears and their fans, this week-long “weekend” celebration features nightly parties, campfires, river fun and more. Spread over multiple venues in the Russian River area. www.castrobear.com. August.
Russian River Food and Wine Fest: Celebrating the bounty of Sonoma County, the Food and Wine Fest is a seasonal highlight. Locally made artisan cheeses, chef demonstrations, cookbook signings and anything food related make this a must-see. www.russianriverfoodandwinefest.com. September.
Women’s Weekend: Hot pool parties, bumpin' night life, dancing, craft fair, dining, motorcycle run, auction, live music, camping, shows, contests, seminars. www.rrwomensweekend.com. May and September.
Direct flights to Wine Country from Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego (beginning June 5, 2012), and Seattle on Alaska Air. Nearby international airports are San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento.
On the Web
www.sonomacounty.com is the official tourism website of the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau
http://inside-sonoma.com/glbt is Sonoma County's official gay travel blog.
www.gayrussianriver.com shows off everything gay in and around Guerneville and the Russian River
www.russianrivertravel.com is an excellent website for general Russian River travel information
www.gaysonoma.com is an online guide for news, events, personals, and local businesses
Follow @gaysonomacounty and @SonomaCoPride on Twitter for the most up-to-date event, activity and travel information.
For a free visitors guide or information on hotels, wineries, events, spas, attractions, and dining in Sonoma County, visit www.sonomacounty.com or call (800) 576-6662.
(TravMedia.com contributed to this article)
Editor's note: Links to the websites of hundreds of lodging and dining options in Sonoma County and the rest of the North Coast can be found at Taste California Travel's Resource Directory.