Monday, September 24, 2007

Tasting in Wine Caves

One of the prettiest tasting rooms in all of wine country is at Bella Vineyards. Located at the far northern end of the Dry Creek Valley, Bella is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from San Francisco. It's a long drive, but you will be rewarded with a pleasant tasting experience in Bella's wine caves.

Caves provide an excellent place to produce and age wine as the temperature is a constant 58 - 61 degrees and the humidity is about 55%. By using caves wineries can save on their electricity bills. They do not need to pay for heating, cooling, or humidifying their storage areas. With over 5,000 feet of caves, Bella has plenty of room to store their tasty Zinfandel, Syrah, and Late Harvest Zinfandel.

The staff at Bella are friendly and $5 gets you a taste of their current releases. If you want to picnic, Bella has a few tables on the lawn in front of the caves.

You can take a private, wine country tour that includes a visit to Bella Vineyards and other Dry Creek Valley wineries. For more information, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Comfortable Lodging in Elk

In my last post, I supplemented the August 2006 "Rick's Tips" with more information on winetasting in the Anderson Valley. In "Rick's Tips," I wrote about the lack of lodging and dining available in the Valley and recommended staying on the Mendocino coast.

Our favorite spot to stay on the coast is the small village of Elk, which I first wrote about in the June 2004 edition of "Rick's Tips." Recently, we returned to Elk and stayed at The Harbor House Inn.

This lovely bed and breakfast sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean. You can gaze out over the ocean from a number of the rooms and cottages or while sitting in their beautiful garden. The Inn also has a stairway down the cliff side to a small beach.

We checked out most of the rooms and cottages during our visit and recommend the Seaview and Oceansong cottages for the best ocean views. Your stay includes both dinner and breakfast. This was our second time dining at Harbor House and, on both occasions, we enjoyed both the food as well as the view from the dining room.

If you are planning a visit to California and would like to include the Anderson Valley or the Mendocino County coast on your itinerary, Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel can help plan your vacation. For more information, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Revisiting the Anderson Valley

The August 2006 edition of "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's free, quarterly newsletter of fun things to do in Northern California, covered winetasting in the Anderson Valley. (To see this issue of "Rick's Tips, click here.) Recently, I returned to the Anderson Valley and visited some new wineries.

Meyer Family Cellars is a small winery in Yorkville Highlands that currently produces Syrah and a Zinfandel-based Port. Soon the winery will release its Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. We tasted both the Mendocino County Syrah and the California Port. Not being a Port fan I won't comment on that wine, but the Syrah was fruit forward and delicious. The tasting room is very pleasant and the staff knowledgeable.

We tried to visit Claudia Springs Winery on our last visit, but it had moved from the location indicated on our map. Located west of Philo, the new tasting room features wines from both Claudia Springs and Harmonique. Claudia was staffing the room on our visit and guided our tasting through a large selection of wines. The tasting room is open from 11:00 to 5:00 from Friday through Monday during the summer and from Friday through Sunday in the winter.

We also visited Standish Winery, which has a tasting room in an old apple drier. The setting was rustic, but the Pinot Noir quite good. We finally got to taste a couple of Lazy Creek's Pinot Noirs and made a return visit to Yorkville Cellars.

More information on Mendocino County Wineries can be found at the Mendocino Wine Grape and Wine Commission's website.

If you would like to visit Mendocino County's wine country, Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel can help plan your vacation. For more information, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.