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Chateau Montelena Winery

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After seeing the movie Bottle shock Mike and I were curious to check out one of the wineries that put Napa on the map. The Chateau is nestled in the hills of Calistoga. They definitely took some creative license with the film since the drive up didn’t look at all familiar. The estate on the other hand was as beautiful as it was on screen. For $15 we got to taste the following 4 wines: the Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Montelena Estate Zinfandel, and Potter Valley Riesling. I was kinda bummed that we didn’t get to try a Chardonnay. The wines didn’t disappoint. They were all yummy. We ended up bringing home a bottle of the Zin. After the tasting we were sent off with a map of the property so we could go on a self guided tour. We took a quick walk around the grounds as it was a gorgeous day and the vines were filled with colorful fall leaves. It was fun to visit a place with such rich history.

Tasty Tip: By the way, the tasting fee is not waived with purchase which I find chintzy.

Tasting Room Hours
9:30 a.m. ā€“ 4:00 p.m. daily
(except major holidays and the third Saturday in May)

Website: http://www.montelena.com/

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Joseph Phelps Insignia Blending Seminar

Mike’s kind of a wine connoisseur. Before we met my wine of choice was a glass of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill or Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel. Growing up in an alcohol free home I missed out on Wine 101. Over the years with Mike’s guidance my palate has changed. These days I find myself liking Red Blends, Cabs and Rieslings. Mike’s favorite winery in Napa is Joseph Phelps. He has been a preferred club member for over 15 years. Whenever we are in the valley tasting Phelps is always on our list because they have informative seminars, friendly staff, reasonable prices, a beautiful location, and most important fantastic wine.

On our latest visit we took the Insignia Blending Seminar which discusses the different elements that make up a bottle of Insignia. For those of you not familiar with Phelps wine, Insignia is its award winning proprietary red blend. The class started off with a tasting of 4 other Phelps wines: ’06 Viognier, ’05 Pinot, ’05 Syrah & ’05 Cab Sav. Then we moved on to the 5 wines that made up the 2004 Insignia. Once we tasted the components we were free to create our own blend of Insignia by mixing the various wines provided. We had lots of fun and wine…but my Insignia concoction didn’t compare to the original!

Tasty Tip: call ahead, all tastings/seminars require an appointment. If you are member pack a lunch and reserve a picnic table.

Website: http://www.jpvwines.com/

Goldeneye Winery

If you ever travel through Anderson Valley make sure to stop at Goldeneye Winery for a tasting of their world class Pinots. Goldeneye is owned by the Duckhorn family so you know they produce some outstanding wines. While in Mendocino we decided to do a day of Pinot tasting and Goldeneye was our first stop. We had made a reservation to take their Estate tasting session which is a 45 minute semi-private tasting (8 people max) that discusses the winery’s history and production processĀ while tasting wines paired with a selection of cheeses, nuts and dried fruit. This was one of the best tastings I have been to.Ā Our hostĀ was knowledgeable and friendly and the setting was breathtaking. At $20 per person this was a steal compared to Napa. You will find that many winery tastings in the Valley are low in cost or completely free.

Tasty Tip: Before you arrive pick up a picnic lunch and sit and enjoy the magnificent views of their vineyard.

Hours: open daily
11:00am – 4:00pm
Website: www.goldeneyewinery.com

Del Dotto Wine Caves

We have been going to Napa for many years. For the first time we decided to check out the Del Dotto Cave Experience & Barrel Tasting as it was recommended by a friend. The tour starts off with some history about the winery owner, some background about the caves and info on the different kinds of oak barrels. A guide then takes you into the caves and you taste their red wines directly from the barrel. Following the barrel tasting you return to the winery and sample a few bottled wines along with chocolate truffles and cheese. Our guide was fun and knowledgeable and the wines were good. The tour lasted 1 Ā½ hours. You taste over 15 different wines so be prepared to be buzzed!

Tip: Make a reservation, not a walk-in situation ($40 per person)

Website: http://www.deldottovineyards.com/

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