Every winery in the Napa Valley, carneros and Sonoma areas have their own sets of Wine Glasses that are molded into different shapes as different kind of wines need different kind of wine glass shapes ideal for swirling the wine and for the wine drinking. They offer the visitors the option to purchase the wine glasses they used for the wine tastings for between $ 4 to $ 7 as a souvenir item and with a 20% discount since you already used the wine glass. You can buy these wine glasses from all the wineries in the whole of the Napa Valley area and it makes one good of a souvenir item too, so grab one now.
If you are visiting the Napa Valley and have been to one-too-many wine tastings, there are lots of other fun things to do. Did you know there are three "Old Faithful" geysers in the world? One of them is near Calistoga, just north of Napa and a fun side trip.
It erupts every 30 minutes on average. In reality, the few times we've visited, it seems to blow its top about every 15 minutes. There are picnic tables and benches and you are welcome to bring a picnic along and enjoy a few eruptions as you eat.
They have a small snack bar and gift shop and have a video that we've never watched. Another fun thing there is a small menagerie of exotic (or not so exotic) animals. They have a couple llamas, several kinds of goats including pygmy goats and the famous Tennessee Fainting goats and sheep set up where you can pet and feed them. There is also a bamboo maze that kids absolutely love. Dad can even disappear in this maze!
There is a discount for AAA members, seniors and a couple other categories so ask at the ticket desk. It is open 365 days a year . . . pretty comprehensive schedule.
1299 Tubbs Lane
Calistoga, California 94515
This past weekend my husband and I made an appointment to visit Jarvis Winery, 4 miles east of Napa. I am a novice when it comes to wine so I went along for the ride.... boy was I surprised. It was located inside a cave. Their entire wine making process is inside a cave carved out and designed by the owners. The tour was fun,interesting and educating. Within the cave is a natural waterfall that was incorporated into the making of the winery. We tasted 6 different wines with about 6 other people and it was like sitting down with friends. The room that we tasted in had high back red chairs and we also had brie, goats cheese and crackers. The ballroom was adjacent to the tasting room which we were allowed to see, huge and beautiful.... I cannot stress what a beautiful place this was and how interesting the cave was all 45,000 square feet of it.. It is worth the trip and the people are great. hope you enjoy
This was an answer to an e-mail but would be valid for anyone visiting the Napa/San Francisco/Sacramento/Yosemite area.
On one of your Napa days, I’d drive over through Bodega (where they filmed Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”) to Bodega Bay and turn north on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH #1). Drive along the coast to Mendocino where you should stop and visit this very picturesque town. After Mendocino, continue north on the PCH to highway 20 where you turn east to Willetts. Then take #101 south to Geyserville. There you pick up highway 128 south back to Napa Valley. Calistoga is a cute town on the way. Well, they’re all cute. St. Helena is also a great visit but you’ll hit that touring Napa Valley.
Places we particularly enjoy in the Napa area are V. Sattui winery near St. Helena. Dean & DeLuca’s is nearly across the road from it and that’s fun too. You can buy everything you need for a picnic at V. Sattui winery and they have a nice picnic area by the winery. You will probably have to share a table but that’s part of the fun.
If you like spas, Calistoga was a spa town long before wine arrived. The CIA is also in that area. That is Culinary Institute of America to non-governmental types. Great chefs are trained there. (expensive)
St. Supery winery has a neat interactive area where you can sniff the various scents you are supposed to be smelling in the various wines. They also have a small vineyard out in front where the type of grape is posted and you can walk in and pick and taste the different grapes. It’s educational and lots of fun. It’s also handy if you go there before doing a lot of tasting unless you are already seriously into wine.
This is all on route #29 but be sure you also visit the Silverado Trail. Lots of wineries there but not as much hype. Although the area is much hype!
While in the Napa area, be sure to visit Sonoma. The town is fun. The last California Mission is there and open; the town is great fun; there are excellent restaurants and plenty of wineries for tastings. We actually like Sonoma better than Napa although I must admit we prefer the coast or our own Shenandoah Valley Gold Country. It’s not nearly as crowded and tasting is still free. There are some amazing Zins in the Shenandoah Valley. That’s its fame.
When you leave Napa, connect to I80 east through Sacramento and then onto #50 east toward Lake Tahoe. This will take you to route 49, the Gold Discovery Route, where you head south to Yosemite. It’s slow and winding but absolutely gorgeous. Near Coloma is the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, very pretty, great ice cream cones and the river there is beautiful. Continuing south on #49, you could stop at our favorite winery, Villa Toscano, just outside Plymouth. Their Zinfandels are terrific. It’s very low key compared to Napa though although our tasting is still free!
There are lots of cute little gold towns but you better keep going to get to Mariposa before it gets dark. It’s not much fun driving #49 in the dark . . . and you can’t see anything anyway.
As far as Yosemite, I can’t give much advice there. Be sure you see the upper park as well as the over-touristed lower park. The entire park is glorious and you can’t go wrong in the area.
Sounds like you will have a wonderful trip. It’s a great area, so much to do all around here. In the SF area, Half Moon Bay is fun south of SF or Point Reyes National Seashore north of SF. Both would be interesting trips. Are you sure you don’t have a month?????
Only a few minutes away from Napa Valley is Fairfield. This is the home to the JELLY BELLY CANDY COMPANY. It is worth a side trip to see how the jelly beans are made, harder to do than most think. Free tour and free JELLY BELLYS. Great spot for children of all ages. See my Fairfield pages for the travelogue on The Jelly Belly Candy Company.
Apparently one of only three "Old Faithfuls" in the world, the geyser in Calistoga (Napa Valley) wasn't anything too amazing. However, it was kinda neat seeing water spew from the ground up to 50 feet into the air. When we visited, we sat around (lawn chairs provided) for about 30 minutes and observed the geyser erupt numerous times with various intensities.
Adults - $8
Seniors - $7
Children 6 to 12 - $3
Children under 6 - Free
While Liz and Jen decided to book spa treatments at our hotel, I opted to take a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory in nearby Fairfield (goes to show you where my priorities lay). I love factory tours and so I couldn't pass up the chance to visit the Jelly Belly Factory, which was only 15 minutes away from Napa.
The walking tour of the factory took about 40 minutes. It was a neat experience that would've been even more cool if candy-making was actually being done. It happened to be a holiday when I came and so while the factory tours were still taking place, the candy-making was not (even candy-makers need breaks too). However, our nice tour guide still did a fantastic job explaining the jelly bean making process. And at the end of the tour, we were given free sample boxes of jelly beans. Since I was extra nice, the tour guide hooked me up with extra boxes of the gummy stuff. Cool beans (literally).
If you decide to make the trip over here, make sure it's not on a holiday so you can have the full Jelly Belly experience. Photography is not allowed on the tour, but I was able to sneak one shot in. The walking tours are free and afterwards, you can sample jelly beans of your choosing in the visitor center.
One Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield, CA 94533
While everyone knows about the vineyards and wineries in Napa Valley, you might not know that many of the wineries also have terrific collections of art or sculptures. There are also many small art galleries with displays of works by local artists.
A few places to check out along the way are Clos Pegase Winery, The Hess Collection Winery and Artesa Winery among others.
If you like wine, especially wine aged in oak, this is THE place for you! My significant other and I had the pelasure of an early morning tour where is was just us and our guide. Everyone here was very knowledgeable and very friendly, the pours right from the barrel were very generous, and to top it all off, the wine was simply incredible!
Of all of the wineries I have visited, this one tops my list.
If Highway 29 was busy when we were there in mid January then it might be stop and go at the height of tourism season. Get off Hwy 29 and take the scenic route. We started from downtown Napa taking the Silverado Trail northbound from Trancas Street. Travel just under 19 miles to Deer Park Road - take a right. This will take you on a loop around the back side of the hills on the east of Napa Valley. There are several wineries located along this route however most require reservations for wine tasting. We are more photography people than wine people so it didn't matter but we could see how it may ruin someone's day. You'll continue on the main road - depending on the map you have and how detailed it is you'll see there are sometimes two option to take to get to the same point with different wineries on each - you choose. You'll pass through Pope Valley, the road will change names eventhough you didn't change roads. It will come back around to Sage Canyon Road, which is also a labeled highway that I can't remember. It will come around the south side of Lake Hennessey and then pop back out at Silverado Trail. This is a beautiful half day excursion if you are just into the scenery but could easily turn into a day long excursion if you have appointments at all the wineries along the way.
Located at the Mumm winery, they are showcasing a great photography exhibit of the "Legends of Rock". There are many pictures of great quality of many, many, many famous musicians. If you love classic rock, this is especially a good one to check out.
The exhibit will be open until March 13th, 2006.
8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford, CA 94573
It's only about half an hour away. From Highway 95 go east on Oakgrove Road and it will lead you into Highway 12, go south and hopefully you have some sort of road map. It's not difficult, you are really limited to only a few options to take.
During the winery tour, I experimented to go off the beathen path... so I get lost in the huge cellar. Fortunately I reduce the risks to die of thirst with all these barrels.
A good dark cellar with a constant temperature/humidity and high quality wooden casks is the keysuccess to produce an fine wine. Each cask serve during a limited period of time (2 or 3 years) before to be changed. The wine could also be conservated in inox tankers, but it is less esthetic and charming for a brewery tour I suppose...
By chance, the exit seems not too far away to take a cask discreetly... Challenging?
Laird is another winery that I consider "off the beaten path", although you can see if from Highway 29, the main drag that runs through Napa and the other towns in Napa Valley.
In all the brochures, Laird states they are open by appointment only (this is only for purposes of conforming to the very strange Napa permitting process) - which makes them "off the beaten path" in my book. Disregard the appointment requirement. The tasting room is open, and we had the pleasure of being the only tasters there. This gave us a great opportunity to learn more about the Laird Winery and family from the Laird employee pouring the wine.
Laird is a family owned and operated winery. Being small, they are not into mass production. In fact, for some of their wines, they have produced less than 300 cases of a given vintage. Due to the limited productions, you will not find their wine in the supermarket, and you will also trouble finding them on a restaurant menu.
Their Pinot Grigio, Chardonnays, Syrahs, Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignon were all fantastic. Don't miss this winery, and look for the pyramid on the west side of the 29, just north of Napa.
This winery is located on the Silverado Trail and we stumbled across it on our bicycle ride through Napa Valley. I am putting it in the "Off the Beaten Path" category because we weren't familiar with the winery and even on Saturday, there was only one other couple in the tasting room.
This winery used to be the Mario Perelli-Minetti winery. I'm still not clear on whether Wm. Harrison is simply a new label, whether they still bottle Mario Perelli-Minetti or whether Wm. Harrison bought M P-M out. We got a long explanation, but quite frankly, I think I might have missed a few details in the chronology.
Anyway, it doesn't matter. We were completely sold on the Rutherford Red. One sip and we had completely forgotten about Mario Perilli-Minetti. We liked the Red so much, we returned later that afternoon and carted away several bottles.