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SONOMA VALLEY WINERIES
This very small operation, about 3000 cases per year, is also one of the most accessible. As you park next to the Syrah vineyard, walk past the fermentation vats and grape press as you enter, and stand next to the aging barrels as you taste the great wines. Wines are served by Chris Loxton himself unless he is busy actually making the wine out on the pad.
Cline Cellars is a truly picturesque vineyard and winery. Their magnificent landscaped grounds are surrounded by 350 acres of vineyards and lush lawn surrounded by 5,000 rose bushes. This historic property was site of a Miwok Village, the first camp of the Sonoma Mission, a natural hot spring bathhouse of the early 1900s, and today it is the perfect place for a picnic in the wine country.
Dave Homewood looks like he never left the beach, but he moved from the Midwest into wine country and got his tan in the Sonoma sun, not Malibu. Homewood Winery makes around 3000 cases per year, including a wonderful Chardonnay, which is natural considering the location in the heart of the Carneros, known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, another of Homewood’s specialties.
Founded by Sam and Vicki Sebastiani, Viansa (from Vicki and Sam) has the experience of three generations of winemaking put into every bottle wine, most of which are sold exclusively at the winery. In addition, the Old-World Tuscan style winery offers a delicious variety of gourmet foods that can be sampled in conjunction with their refined wine to make an unforgettable experience. A whole new level of flavor and taste are discovered when mixing special foods with special wines.
Schug Carneros Estate Winery
The Walter Schug has a long history of experience in making wine for Phelps and others, but he wanted to start his own, which happened in 1980. Schug Carneros Estate Winery specializes in wonderful Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, but also make great Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and even a sparkling Pinot Noir.
Located in the village of Kenwood in the northern half of Sonoma Valley, Kenwood is a medium-large operation, producing several hundred thousand cases per year. Founded in 1970 in the old Pagani Winery, Kenwood Vineyards has had exclusive access to the Jack London Ranch for the better part of 2 decades. Kenwood is well known for its Sauvignon Blanc, but also produces some fine Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
VJB Vineyards and Cellars
A young Vittorio and Maria Belmonte emigrated from Italy to Boston in 1963. Vittorio dreamed of continuing the family tradition of winemaking, so they naturally ended up in California and opened a restaurant. Their sons Henry and Victor wanted to open up a winery to complement the restaurant. They concentrate on Italian grapes, like Barbera, Primitivo, Sangiovese, and Montepulciano, but they also have Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. There is reminiscent of a nice little Italian Cafe next door.
Valley of the Moon
Originally part of General Vallejo’s huge estate, the first grapes were planted here in 1863. The current stone wine cellar was built in 1887. Prohibition made for hard times and dormancy, but it was reawakened when the Parducci Brothers bought it and named it Valley of the Moon in the 1950′s. The tasting room is a huge open room filled with elegant gifts, and artwork for sale. The wine list features Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
NAPA VALLEY WINERIES
V. Sattui Winery
V. Sattui has a long wine list for a small winery with no distribution deal, so almost everyone will find something they like. They also have a large selection of gourmet cheese, olive oil and other condiments, along with sandwiches, which can be eaten at the picnic tables outside.
Vintage 1870 Winery
This is not a winery per se, but it is a wine shop and tasting room with wines from a wide variety of regions, including neighbors from Napa and Sonoma, but also Europe, Australia, and South America. It a registered historic site, the Groezinger Winery founded in 1870, but has been a shopping center for over 40 years, in the town of Yountville, just north of Napa the city.
Silverado is known for excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and other special “editions”. The view from the terrace is breathtaking, overseeing their own vines, and looking northwest toward Rutherford, and the Mayacamas range.
Founded by Sam and Vicki Sebastiani, Viansa (from Vicki and Sam) has the experience of three generations of winemaking put into every bottle wine, most of which are sold exclusively at the winery. In addition, the Old-World Tuscan style winery offers a variety of delicious gourmet foods that can be sampled in conjunction with their refined wine to make an unforgettable experience. A whole new level of flavor and taste are discovered when mixing special foods with special wines.
Mumm Napa Sparkling Wines
On the beautiful and historic Silverado Trail, nestled into the Vaca foothills, Mumm Napa is a state of the art winery that makes sparkling wine on display for you to see if you take the time to follow one of their engaging guides on a complimentary tour of their large, modern facility. The tour drops you into a large gallery of spectacular nature prints by well-known photographers like Ansel Adams and others. Then you are welcome to sit and purchase one of several flights of their delightful sparkling wines at various price ranges, flavors and colors.
“Mike” Miljenko Grgich gained international recognition at the historic 1976 Paris “blind tasting” when his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won a Gold Medal, establishing it as the finest white wine in the world. After his victory in Paris, Mike partnered with Austin Hills, from the Hills Brothers Coffee family creating Grgich Hills Winery. World leaders such as Presidents Clinton and Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II and French President Francois Mitterrand have chosen their wines to serve at state dinners. Their wines include Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Merlot.