Red Meritage

Red Meritage

Mount Aukum Winery

The drive is a little bit out of the way, but worth it for 3 reasons. The View, The Wine, and the Staff. The view of the valley is spectacular and i highly suggest buying a bottle of your favorite, bring a picnic and sit outside at one of their tables to each lunch and enjoy the view and the wine.

Timeless Plates Wine

Founded in 2005, La Fenêtre is my expression of classic style and technique in winemaking with new world, modern sensibility. Crafted wines that are elegant, perfectly balanced, great with food, and long to finish. While the great classic, old world wine regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and the Rhône are my benchmarks, true to the terroir of the vineyards from which my wines originate.

Zenaida Cellars

It all started back in 1988 when Eric’s parents purchased the land where the winery and vineyard sit today. Eric was still attending Cal Poly earning his BS in Ecology and Systematic Biology at the time but helped his dad by designing and planting the vineyard. After getting the vineyard planted and producing, Eric began to expand his wine knowledge. Biologist as his day job, Eric went back to school, attending UC Davis’s enology extension courses. Eventually, landing his first wine job with Ken Volk at Wild Horse Winery in Templeton and then moving into a position with Kendal-Jackson Winery. Eventually in 1998, Eric made the first official vintage of Zenaida Cellars and has been working on developing the wines ever since.

Crane Family Vineyards

Crane offers some excellent reds in a beautiful, unassuming, and unpretentious format. Your proprietor, Tom Crane, a second generation owner/grower, will sit out on the lovely porch and describe each one of his wonderful wines. No pressure to buy here; the wines sell themselves. Tom offers a Cab, Merlot, a Bordeaux blend called Allison's cuvee (named after the winemaker), and a Port all at good prices.
While the estate is small and lacks the flash and polish of larger operations, the hospitality and great wines more than made up for it. If you are the adventurous type and want to go off the beaten path for a warm Napa afternoon at a boutique winery, by all means give Tom a call.

Viader Vineyards

two friends and wine by Artist Agata Zaborowski

If you're looking for a different experience than your typical Napa Valley tasting room, then I highly recommend that you take the trip to Viader. High above the Valley floor, Viader has some of the prettiest views around. They also have excellent wines. In addition to their highly regarded Cab blend, the winery makes a yummy Syrah and under another label, DARE, even does a termpranillo. The tasting is pricey, but the staff really tries to give you your money's worth. If you have time, ask to see the underground wine caves. Art provided by Agata Art Gallery 

Parsonage Village Vineyard

Parsonage Village Vineyard is planted on a seven-acre south-facing hillside bench 500 feet above the Carmel River and a half mile east of the Carmel Valley Village. The mesoclimate(yes, it's not a microclimate which encompasses a larger area than meso) here is ideal for the all red varietals--Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Verdot that make up the Estate Vineyard.

Envy Wines

Like many of the smaller Napa vineyards, this one had a distinct personality. From the beautifully appointed tasting and event rooms to the hip staff and owner to the funny little chihuahua statue (I'll let you find him) the message was clear: we're serious and knowlegable about good wine but we also know how to laugh. Very different from some of the huge vineyards which can be awfully serious. Definitely make this stop when checking out Calistoga. The 2010 Calistoga Estate Cabernet Sauvignon at $48. This is 100% Cab. An appealing bright purplish in color, it had a very nice aroma of black cherry, smoke and vanilla. Smooth and fresh on the palate, it was mostly black cherry with some vanilla. The finish was quite long with cherry, lingering tannins and spice.

ILsLey Vineyards

Located in the Vaca Mountain foothills of Napa Valley's Stags Leap District lie the Ilsley Vineyards. For three generations our family has provided grapes for some of Napa Valley's finest wines. Now after fifty years of farming, they have hand-selected grapes from their hillside vineyards to produce two limited production, estate wines, that has captured the essence of the Stags Leap District.
The "Seis Primas", a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Merlot, blends delicious fruit flavors with elegance and balance.

Opus One Winery

Beautiful property with elegant tasting rooms and a lovely upper balcony for you to enjoy your "tasting" on. They don't do the typical 1oz tasting that most wineries offer. Opus One's tastings are full glasses of their two wines being offered that season.
Opus One, unlike many other wineries, offers intimiate tours just to your group. There's no feeling of being herded along with 15 other strangers, straining to hear what the winemaker or guide is trying to say.

Caleb, our guide, was perfect. He spent just the right amount of time on relevant topics and in each area of the winery. We saw the barrel room, the vines, all the sorting processes, the vats, the winemaking room, even some executive offices! This was service at its best. We were given the Overture (2009, I think), Opus One 2009, and Opus One 2006 to taste throughout our two-hour tour.

I wouldn't recommend this winery if you are with 15 friends on a party bus, looking to get drunk. Or if you're just looking to "check out" Napa for the first time. Or if you couldn't tell the difference between red wine or white wine with red food coloring . The money and the prestige are not worth it. It's a special treat to learn and experience Opus On

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