SAN FRANCISCO, June 28, 2012 –The region of Napa, California is well-known for its award-winning wines. What is perhaps less well-known is the availability of wine tasting in the city of Napa.
In part 4 of my 4-part series on the city, I highlight some of the best wine tasting in and near downtown Napa.
1. Luscious Wine Tasting
The beauty of wine tasting in downtown Napa is that your group can stroll from tasting room to tasting room. Including wine bars, there are over twenty wine tasting locations here, and they are the only tasting rooms for some of the finest boutique wineries.
If you stop in the Downtown Napa Visitors Center before you start, you can pick up a wine tasting card and sample at twelve different tasting rooms for $25.
If you want to explore, there are also several wineries only a short drive away. Consider driving at a few of the wineries on the perimeter of town to start, then work your way downtown to finish off the day.
Here are a few favorites:
Winery Tasting Rooms - Downtown
- District 4: home to four amazing boutique wineries (Fulcrum, Match Vineyards, Textbook and X Winery), and one awesome blending experience.
- Fulcrum makes a beautifully balanced Pinot Noir. Check out their ’09 On Point Christinna’s Cuvee Pinot.
- Match is all about elegant Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Textbook focuses primarily on Cabernet, but mixes it up nicely with Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and even a dry Riesling.
- X Winery takes a slightly different approach to wine, creating innovative blends that you might not find elsewhere, featuring their White X and Red X blends.
- Build-a-Blend is a unique wine blending experience available in District 4; great fun for wine newbies as well as experienced winos.
- Mason Cellars: they’ve been around since 1972, so they know their wine, and in particular Sauvignon Blanc. Mason offers an unusual experience for white wine lovers. Try the side-by-side Sauvignon Blanc tasting to experience the complexities of this varietal. Tasting suggestions: ’10 Pomelo and the ’08 Mason Reserve.
- TASTE at Oxbow: not to be confused with Uncorked at Oxbow, this super chic tasting room features wines from Waterstone. This tasting room is a delight to just be in. At Waterford they focus on making luxury wines at an affordable price. Luxury wines indeed! Tasting suggestions: ‘11 Sauvignon Blanc, ‘08 Pinot Noir “Carneros”, ‘08 Zinfandel and don’t leave without trying their tribue to Miles Davis, “Study in Blue” red blend.
- Uncorked at Oxbow: co-owners are Bruce Ahnfeldt and Celeste Carducci, who opened in 2002 and also own the elegant and historic McClelland-Priest Bed and Breakfast Inn. Along with winemaker Julian Gonzalez and consulting winemaker Paul Hobbs, Uncorked produces the Ahnfeldt and Carducci brands. They offer wine, art, music, education, food pairings and wine blending sessions in their Napa tasting room. Be sure to try the ’10 Provocative Chardonnay, ’07 Ahnfeldt Merlot Black Label, ’08 Ahnfeldt Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, and my favorite, the ’07 Ahnfeldt W/L Classic Cab.
- Additional downtown tasting rooms:
- Ceja Vineyards. Tasting suggestions: ’09 Sparkling Blanc de Noir, ’07 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and ’07 Sonoma Coast Syrah
- Ca’ Momi Winery. Here you can taste and purchase wines, as well as grab an obsessively authentic Italian dinner (hint, their pizzas are big sellers); be sure to try their Ca’ Secco Frizzante sparkling, very refreshing!
- Gustavo Thrace: is a boutique Napa winery, lead by winemaker Gustavo Brambila, which produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Barbera, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, and a distinctive Bordeaux Blend.
- John Anthony. There are only three varietals that John produces: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Tasting suggestions: ‘10 Church Vine Sauvignon Blanc, ‘08 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and ‘08 Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon
- Check the DoNapa.com website for information on all downtown tasting rooms.
Wineries – Short drive from Downtown
Trinitas Cellars: this delicious gem of a winery is hidden at the back of the recently renovated Meritage Resort and Spa. At Trinitas they are all about the quality of their wine and how the sun, soil and humanity each play vital roles. When you walk into the tasting cave your senses are assaulted by a mix of fragrances of rich jam, cherries, smokiness and lush tannins from the tasting room, and lavender and cucumber from the spa across the cave. Who wouldn’t want to spend the day here? There are far too many wonderful wines to count at Trinitas, but at least be sure to try: ‘09 Rose’ary, ’07 El Dorado Old Vine Zinfandel, ’07 Mendocino Old Vine Zinfandel, ’08 Meritage, ’07 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the ’09 Old Vine Petite Syrah.
Artesa Winery: This breathtaking winery is set high up on a hilltop with scenic views of Napa Valley. Artesa is the perfect fusion of wine, art, architecture and natural beauty. It is owned by the Raventos family of Spain, who have been making wine since the mid-sixteenth century. Plan to spend a few hours at this sensational winery. I liked just about every wine I tried, but here are a few tasting suggestions: Codorniu Napa Grand Reserve sparkling, ’10 Pinot Blanc, ’09 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir. Absolutely don’t miss the ’08 Artisan Series Cabernet Sauvignon.
Domaine Carneros: this is one of my favorite wineries in Napa, and consuming a few bubbles is an excellent way to kick off your wine tasting experience. The “French chateau” feel is apparent upon approach to the winery, where you can imagine yourself sipping champagne with the sun of the French Countryside on your face. But there’s no need to imagine here. Head up the stairs and grab a seat outside on the terrace that wraps around the entire tasting room. Unique to Domaine Carneros is the outside table service. I recommend that each person in your group order a different glass of bubbly, then take turns tasting them all. Tasting suggestions: ’08 Brut Rose and the NV Blanc de Noir.
- Additional suggestions:
- Falcor - tasting suggestions: ’05 Cabernet Sauvignon, ’04 “H” Block Cabernet Sauvignon, and the ’07 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.
- Delectus Winery - tasting suggestions: ’06 Napa Valley Cabernet and the ’07 Petite Sirah.
- Bourassa Vineyards - tasting suggestions: ’07 Merlot, ’07 Harmony3 Bordeaux Blend, and ‘06 Petite Verdot.
- Cuvaison Estate Wines, Carneros Tasting Room - hand-crafted classic and elegant Napa Valley wines
- Bouchaine - family owned winery dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
- Check the Discover California Wines Website for information on all southern Napa Valley and Los Carneros region wineries.
There you have it. The top ten list of things to do in downtown Napa.
Come and discover – or rediscover — downtown Napa for yourself. Experience the cultural rejuvenation of this historic town as it comes back into its own. Enjoy the luxury of its hotels, the balance of its wines, the flavor of its cuisine, and its beautifully restored buildings. Take your time and stroll through town as you see pieces of history as well as the future of downtown Napa.
As you might imagine, it is impossible to list here all of the amazing places worthy of exploration. The Downtown Napa Association has done a wonderful job of highlighting most of the options on an easy- to -navigate DoNapa website. Plan your trip today.
Insider Tip: Before beginning your adventure, visit the Downtown Napa Visitor Center for all the latest and greatest info on what’s happening while you are in town.
Columnist Sherrie Perkovich offers an insider’s perspective of the very best San Francisco has to offer. Join her weekly to experience the best the City by the Bay has to offer - from festival to parks to wine and everything in between.
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