Half the experience in seeing the wine country is tasting the wine and dining, the other half is enjoying the spectacular scenery. From rolling hills lined with vineyards, lush gardens, lovely fountains and ponds fringed with drop-dead gorgeous trees, each winery you encounter has its own personality. We stopped at Cakebread, I love their Sauvignon Blanc, I was a bit disappointed. The charged a fee of $5, most others were free to taste. They seemed hurried and that damped my enthusiam. Robert Mondavi however, was a favorite. The guide was delightful, tastings were free, unless you went in the To-Kalon Room, with rarer vintages. The property made you desireous to linger. Their wines are popular and there is a reason for it. They are great wines! Rombauer Vineyards were appointment only and were unique. Seeing the vats in caves built up a thirst. The chardonney, which generally I personally do not like, was a beautiful bouquet of vanilla tones. Beringer was also a favorite.
The tour is about 45 minutes and cost $5.00 which was refunded with purchase. Their wines are also always on the top charts. Complimentary appetizers were served and the grounds were impeccable. Joseph Phelps at 200 Taplin in St. Helena is a premium winery with appt. only and a charge of $5, but for this excellant wine, it was very much a bargain. Off the Silverado Trail, it is a bit hard to find, but like all rare things, worth the hunt. Opus One in St. Helena is snooty, but got to admit, they have every right to be, is APPOINTMENT ONLY and $25. per taste. A gorgeous setting with picnic areas overlooking spectacular views, this blend of Mondavi/Rothschild is a 26.5 million dollar property. Reminiscent of a Mayan Temple, call 707-944-9442 for that special taste.
Domain Chandon is a must for champagne, see dining journal entry, and Sterling Vineyards with the ski gondola-like tram hovering 300 ft. over the vineyards and picturesque landscaping is a joy! Located in Calistoga, the cost is $6 and includes tastings and the tram ride up and down. The wine is special. Bought a case of Bianca, a dry white, with fruity tones, that was a limited production, just wish I had bought 2 or 3 or 4.....The stark white stucco gives a sterile feel. We enjoyed a 5 course meal with wine pairings. The gift shops at all the wineries should not be missed, if they have one, you must indulge. They have unique wonderful things to take back and enjoy!