No, the wine country is not a center for terror. At least not yet. When I mention terroir in these tips, it's not that I forgot to use my spellchecker. That's TERROIR, with an "I". "Terroir" means the unique combination of soil and climate in specific area that grows grapes for wine.
In France, a particular terroir also includes specific grapes and specific wine-making techniques. Here in California, we use "terroir" in a looser sense. We mix and match our grapes - even in a single vineyard, so terroir is more likely to refer to soil and climate.
Fondest memory: Terroir, more than anything else, is why you can find such a vast difference is wines and even quality. The terroir of Robert Keenan Winery lends itself very well to producing excellent merlots and cabernet sauvignons.
Wine is, of course, at the heart of the Wine Country, and some visitors seem to think that they're in some kind of competitive exercise to visit as many as humanly possible each day.
We - and many of the winery people we spoke to - found that a little silly. After a few wineries, the palate, and the head, are dulled, and you just start drinking the wine without any appreciation. You're also in a beautiful part of the US, so it seems a shame not to see more of it than the interior of many a winery!
We limited ourselves to a maximum of four wineries in a day, and even that seemed like a lot. The day we visited just two was ideal, in many ways!
If you can't follow our advice, then at least drink plenty of water between visits, and eat a good lunch too. Otherwise, you'll likely find yourself feeling less than perfect come evening-time. The wineries, too, don't really appreciate people turning up tipsy: they tend to be louder and more difficult to control, which spoils everyone else's experience.
take the time to sample a variety of wineries and dine at the best restaurants. Visiting St. Helena is an epicurean experience above all else and those from the Bay Area that go to Napa for a weekend getaway largely do so for that reason. If you expect to visit only once, though, be sure to consider the broader activities and attractions. A good time to visit would be during the Mustard Festival.
Fondest memory: dining at the Wine Spectator Greystone restaurant. My wife and I came here with my aunt and uncle from Germany. On many an occasion they had taken us out for dinner in Germany or entertained us at their home with fine food and drink. Here was our opportunity to return the gesture.
I thought my uncle would appreciate this restaurant in particular since he has studied at a cooking school. Here you can see expert chefs preparing dishes at various stations.Nevertheless, while the restaurant is part of the Culinary Institute of America campus, it certainly doesn't have a cooking school feel about it.
We had a wonderful meal while enjoying a 'flight' of champagne--three glasses of different champagnes. There are also flights of a variety of different wines.
I recommend this restaurant for a special occasion.