Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wineries with Caves

I frequently get asked to visit wineries that have caves. Most wineries do not have caves as they do not have access to hills in which to drill caves. When wineries do have hills, they often chose to excavate caves so they can store their wine in perfect climatic conditions with minimal expense for power. Fifty-eight degrees is the perfect temperature for storing wine. With a cave, the winery does not need to spend money on heating and air conditioning. In addition, wine should be aged in a humid environment to minimize evaporation. Caves, being naturally humid, save on power for humidification.

Below is a partial list of wineries with caves that can be visited:

Napa Valley

Del Dotto - Compare barrel samples while visiting their cave.
Hall-Rutherford - Taste wine under a chandelier in the shape of a vine's roots.
Jarvis - See beautiful crystals and a restroom with twinkling stars.
Palmaz - Enter a 180 foot tall cave while being guided by a family member.
Rombauer - Tour the cave and enjoy a picnic lunch on their beautiful grounds.
Rutherford Hill - Take a public tour that includes a visit to the winery's cave.
Schramsberg - Visit caves dug by Chinese laborers in the 19th century.

Sonoma Valley

Moon Mountain - Visit one of the few natural caves used for aging wine.
Nicholson Ranch - Walk through their no-frills cave on a private tour.

Dry Creek Valley

Bella - Enjoy beautiful views from the hillside and then taste in the cave.

This list is by no means complete. It includes caves I've personally visited or have been recommended to me. If you would like to take a private wine country tour that includes a tour of one of these winery's caves, please call me at (866) 326-42377 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Indoor and Outdoor Tasting at Lynmar

If you enjoy Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay, I recommend visiting Lynmar Estate in the Russian River Valley. The winery had a tasting room in Graton for a number of years, but moved into a stunning new home on the estate a few years ago.

When you approach the tasting room, note the creek that seems to magically disappear. You'll then enter a modern salon with high ceilings and a tasting bar at the far end. You are welcome to stand at the bar while you taste, but outdoor, seated tastings are offered on nice days. Two tastings are available: an Estate Tasting for $10/person and a Reserve Tasting for $25/person. Both include tastes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. On Thursdays - Sundays, with 48 hours advance notice, you can have food pairings with your wine. Sipping wine while gazing at the Quail Hill Vineyard on a sunny day is a pleasant way to spend an hour.

Lynmar is also a great venue for special events and private luncheons. I've tasted chef Sandra Simile's work a couple of times and enjoyed her meals immensely.

Lynmar is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. If you would like to take a private tour of the Russian River Valley that includes a stop at Lynmar, please phone me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Family Affair in the Dry Creek Valley

Last week, I visited Mounts Family Winery for the first time. The Mounts family has been growing grapes in the Dry Creek Valley for over 50 years. They also farmed prunes when the valley was better known for fruit than wine. In 2007, the Mounts family decided to open its own winery.

Mounts Family Winery is a little off the beaten track, up Wine Creek Road on a hillside overlooking the Dry Creek Valley. It's best to make an appointment before you visit; although, the family is usually there on weekends. When you arrive you'll be rewarded with a beautiful view overlooking the family's hillside vineyards. One of the family members will greet you and invite you to taste their current release wines in the bare bones tasting room -- a picnic table outside of the wine cellar.

Mounts Family makes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Viognier. You'll be able to taste as many wines as are available while gazing out over the hills and valley. Feel free to ask questions about the winery and the history of the Dry Creek Valley.

If you would like to take a private tour of the Dry Creek Valley that includes a visit to Mounts Family Winery, please phone me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.