Must visit wineries in Napa
My favorites are Artesa it is simply a gorgeous gorgeous winery. Sterling is another one, there is nothing else like it. You will love their sky trams. Bouchaine and Domaine Carneros in the Carneros region are also great finds. V. Sattui is great for picnic etc. HALL two tasting room, one is Ruthefor for very upscall experience and the other in St. Helena for walk-ins. One of my favorites recently is Castello di Amorosa, its an exact replica of a castle with torture chamber etc. But before going I often print FREE tasting offers from a website www.econcierges.com they also have discounts on spas, hotels and restaurants. Reviews and videos are also great to help you decide. In this economy I want to save every possible way i can by not paying tasting fees. Healdsburg in Sonoma County is another area which you can visit and will love it.
Some general considerations about Napa Valley Wine
I worked in a variety of wineries, tasted with many of the great winemakers during the 1980's, taught California wine appreciation for 5 years, and keep a small collection of bottles aging, so I'm sort of familiar with some procedures that will make wine worthwhile even for those who are new to the subject. First, when tasting, be sure to spend a lot of time examining the wine visually and smelling it prior to gulping it down. As soon as the first faintest feel of intoxication begins, your judgement centers for wine appreciation begin to fade in their capability. That's why experts use the bucket to spit the wine out after tasting. Second, recognize that any sweetness in a wine tends to mask the mistakes made in the winemaking process. Slight bitterness from poor grapes or vinification can be covered over by even a slight residual sugar in white wines, for example. Tasting room swill produced for tourists is often marginal bulk process wines designed to please the novice consumer. This technique fails with red wines since sugar left in the barrel would restart the fermentation process anyway. However, a "woody" smell may be an overuse of barrel aging to mask other defects in flavor. Thirds, it pays to do some blind brown bag tasting at home in the weeks before the big trip. Buy a half dozen California wines of the same variety from various microclimates (outside Napa, St. Helena, Oakville, Rutherford, or Calistoga--all cities covered by my Napa Valley notes) and hide the labels for blind tasting. Concentrate on the differences and discuss these with a group of friends. While discovery that a cheap wine was the favorite is not likely novice proof that expensive wines are a waste of money, at least you will begin to learn the hallmarks of that varietal of wine in its many ways of manufacture. Fourth, when you arrive on the scene in Napa, organize your itinerary carefully. Don't try to do too much in one day. Instead, either focus on a particular region or drive the whole region stopping in a particular winery in each one. Initially, a good hospitality tour of a winery facility is a good introduction. Later, good food and wine paired are the key to understanding wine. In my experience, it takes the average person a couple of years of regular tasting to acquire the skills of basic wine appreciation, so don't expect too much too quickly. Go slow and take notes of your tastings to help recollect and build a durable memory trace of what your nose and taste buds tell you. Finally, do buy some wine and stash them in a small collection at home. As long as the wines are kept at a stable range between 55-70F all year around, with no sudden hot spikes, a refrigerated cellar really isn't necessary. I have in the past used sleeping bags to protect my wines during summer in California. A carefully aged red wine can be one of God's greatest gifts on a Thanksgiving dinner or a get together with good friends. I have frequently stunned friends and family with my carefully cellared bottles.My fondest memories of work in the Napa Valley was the joy of tasting with winemakers and others in the industry. This is a learning experience, not a name-dropping one. I have friends without status who are among my most knowledgeable wine tasting friends. I have also enjoyed many informal parties and dinners too remarkable to describe in the length provided by the VT box.
Shipping wine back home - 2006 update
Since the option of carrying wine back with you in your carry-on luggage has been eliminated, you'll really need to think about shipping the wine you buy back home.
If you are in a state that allows it, the wineries will be happy to ship your wine purchases back home for you.
If you are only picking up a bottle every here and there, you'll need to go to a UPS Store or one of several other shipping locations. They will help you box up your wines and send them home. It will cost about $90 to ship a case of wine using 2 day air, less if you send it via ground delivery, but you'll need to consider temperatures so you don't cook your wine.
FREE, Every Friday 5 - 8:30 pm May 25 through August 31 in downtown Napa on 1st street. This was great because you have many restaurants with food booths, wine tasting booths, artwork displayed and for sale and much more. I'm not into eating raw oysters but there was even a booth selling them! I saw at least four different areas throughout with musical entertainment. I'm glad we didn't miss this.
again for souvenirs, available in different configurations like bottle openers, screw caps, magnetic paperweights, symbols and more. Available everywhere and cost $ 5.99 to $ 9.99 (depends on the type).