Monday, April 17, 2006

Garagista in Dry Creek Valley

The term garagista derives from a French term that is used to describe small producers of wine. I use it with affection to describe a few small wineries, one of which is Deux Amis Winery. Located in the Dry Creek Valley, Deux Amis specializes in Zinfandel and also produces some Petite Sirah. Deux Amis (two friends in French) is a partnership of Phyllis Zouzounis and Jim Penpraze. Founded in 1987, today the winery produces around 1,500 cases of wine.

I enjoy their wines so much that I am a member of their wine club. Thus, I can look forward to semiannual shipments of their delicious and well priced wines. If you would like to taste Deus Amis' wine, they are usually open to the public on Saturday afternoons or you can call for an appointment. There's nothing fancy about their tasting room, just a table amongst the barrels of aging wine in an unadorned warehouse. No spit buckets here, just dump any unwanted wine in the drain on the floor.

Deux Amis is located at 1960 Dry Creek Road, in the front of the building that houses Wilson Winery's tasting room. You can call (707) 431-7945 if you want to schedule an appointment to taste their wines. Better yet, let Blue Heron take you on a tour of the Dry Creek Valley. You can schedule a tour by calling (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mailing me by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Relax and Enjoy California Sparkling Wine

One of my favorite settings in all of wine country is the patio at Domaine Carneros. Life doesn't get much better than sitting outside on a sunny afternoon, gazing out over the vineyards, and drinking sparkling wine.

Domaine Carneros is best known for it's three sparkling wines. (While it is legal to call sparkling wine "Champagne" in the United States, to the rest of the world "Champagne" is sparkling wine produced only in the Champagne region of France.) However, it also produces some pretty good Pinot Noir.

When you visit the winery, I recommend ordering a sampler of the three sparkling wines or three red wines (usually three different Pinot Noirs or two Pinots and a Merlot). Domaine Carneros is one of the few wineries that serves food, so you may want to pair your wine with a cheese or caviar plate.

Domaine Carneros is open later than most wineries -- until 6:00 p.m. -- so it's a perfect spot to end your day of winetasting. The winery also offers a 45-minute tour to explain how sparkling wine is produced. Domaine Carneros is located on Highway 121 in the Carneros Region of Napa County.

If you would like to take a tour that includes a stop at Domaine Carneros, feel free to call me to book our 4.5-hour Taste of Wine Country Tour or our 8-hour tour to the Napa or Sonoma Valley. You can reach me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Learn Something While Tasting Good Wine

One of my frequent stops for tasting in the Napa Valley is Clos du Val. The winery was established in 1972 and its Cabernet from grapes harvested that year competed in the famed 1976 Paris Tasting. While not winning in 1976, Clos du Val's 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon won in the 1986 rematch; which was held to judge how well the original entries had aged over the preceding decade.

When you visit Clos du Val today, you not only get to taste delicious wine, but the staff there is among the most knowledgeable in the Valley. You will usually get to see the impact of decanting on a young Cabernet whose tannins need some softening. Feel free to ask the staff as many questions as you like. They love talking about wine and Clos du Val.

Tours of the winery are available by appointment. You may make a reservation for a tour by calling (800) 820-1972. The winery is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and is located at 5330 Silverado Trail.

You can arrange a Napa Tour, which includes a stop at Clos du Val, by calling me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mailing me by clicking here.