If you are lucky enough to tote along a designated driver, visit the newly opened Del Dotto Estate Winery and Caves in St. Helena. You won't be disappointed, and you won't come out sober :) The Winery is opulent with perfectly manicured lawns, Italian marble and mosaics to please your eyes. Oh, and the wine is delicious as well. On the tour, our humorous and entertaining guide, Steve, led us to the Italian brick lined caves and provided us 'side by side' barrel tastings to demonstrate the amazing effect the Oak used in the aging barrels has on the taste. Apparently, I prefer Missouri Oak while hubby preferred the French Oak. He's always more sophisticated than me. After what felt like the 20th pour of wine, I couldn't tell the difference anymore. The tour fee is a little steep here ($50) but is well worth it, and you'll certainly get your money's worth in wine.
Baldacci Family Vineyards is a quaint, family winery with excellent wine. We probably wouldn't have stumbled upon this winery if it weren't for a recommendation. Each of the vineyard's bottles is made and named with a family member in mind, and we loved the Four Sons Cabernet. Because we visited in the off-season, we were lucky to have the grounds to ourselves and enjoyed a tour of what our guide called a "working cave" minus the bells & whistles of Del Dotto. The tour was equally educational and we enjoyed sipping our wine on the patio.
A life of art galleries and sparkling wine....sounds good to me. A visit to Mumm Napa is a special treat as you can sample some very tasty sparkling wine then tour the grounds filled with artwork and a permanent Ansel Adams exhibit. Mumm offers complimentary guided tours, though we opted to stroll on our own. This was also the last winery we visited, so we might have been a little tired at that point! Courtesy of Mumm, here's a recipe that I am quite intrigued by:
Black Velvet is smashing when layered. Pour the stout into a half-pint glass or flute. Carefully add the sparkling wine on top. When you sip, the heavier stout will slip under the wine, so you’ll enjoy a taste of both. Experiment with dry Irish stout and brut, or a sweet Imperial stout and a less dry sparkling wine.
History: The death of Prince Albert, beloved consort of Britain’s Queen Victoria, inspired this cocktail in 1861. It’s widely attributed to a bartender at Brook’s Club in London, who thought Champagne too festive for such a somber occasion. By blending Champagne with stout, he created a cocktail cloaked in funereal black.