Archive for February, 2011

There’s More To Do Than Just Drink

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

By Deirdre Bourdet

ST. HELENA, CA – Whether you’re a tippler, a toddler, or a teetotaler, everyone needs to do things other than drink wine on a trip to wine country. Fortunately, there are plenty of non-alcoholic activities to entertain you in just about every sub-region of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. This article will point you to some of the less obvious ways to have fun in the land of wine.

Tastings at the CIA

Get Involved With the CIA.  The Culinary Institute of America, that is. This world-class professional culinary school offers many of its classes to the public, some for a single day, others for only two hours. For those with even shorter attention spans, there are 15-minute crash courses at the Flavor Bar to train your palate… learn how to select and balance different aspects of flavor (bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and spicy) to maximize tastiness in the Taste Like A Chef session, or explore the aromatic features and terroir specifics of chocolate with The Chocolate Experience.  Both classes involve “mouths-on” training and an easy to follow video for only $10 per person.

In June of last year, the Flavor Bar launched its Oleoteca experience with super fresh, super premium olive oils, the likes of which we Americans have never previously gotten to enjoy.  Don’t miss the school’s seductive Spice Island cookware store on the way out, which carries many professional books and equipment as well as items for the home chef.  If you’ve worked up an appetite with all that learning, kick back on the restaurant’s lovely patio, enjoy the gorgeous view over the valley, and let the pros prepare you a fabulous seasonal meal that makes the most of the valley’s agricultural bounty.

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St. Helena Wine Tasting Itinerary

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
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By Courtney Cochran

Wine may be what brings us to wine country, but it’s not the only show going on when it comes to things to do among the vines.  Read on for an itinerary focused on activities in and around St. Helena that promises more than your average swirling and sipping experience.

Beringer Winery, St. Helena CA

History Lesson: Beringer
Start you day north of St. Helena at Napa Valley’s oldest continuously operating winery, Beringer.  Designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, the 19th Century Rhine House (fashioned after the family’s impressive old German home at Mainz-on-the-Rhine, natch) encompasses the tasting room and is a marvel of ornate Victorian architecture.  Choose one of two tours offered (the 30-minute Introduction to Beringer Tour or the 1-hour Taste of Beringer Tour) to learn more about the spot’s vibrant winemaking history, or explore the estate’s beautifully landscaped grounds on your own with a glass of wine in hand.  We recommend getting an early start at Beringer (circa 10AM, when doors open) to make the most of your day and arrive at your lunch spot, detailed below, at an ideal hour.
(707) 963-4812 * 2000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574 * Hours: 10am-5pm * Fees: $5-$20

Seminar Studies: Merryvale
After your history lesson at Beringer, hop in your car for the brief drive through town to Merryvale, another historic spot that was the first winery built in Napa after Prohibition.  Sip award-winning wines amidst the splendid surroundings, or splurge for the Sommelier Reserve Tasting for an off-the-beaten-path experience.  Comprising a private one-hour session with charming on-site sommelier Shawn Dougherty, this by-reservation affair is the Napa equivalent of a backstage pass at a sold-out rock show.  If you’re traveling on a Friday or Saturday, you won’t want to miss the spot’s popular Wine & Cheese Experience.
P.S.  Consult the winery’s Calendar of Events for not-to-be-missed quarterly Barrel Tastings, which feature food pairings and live entertainment throughout the afternoon matched with Merryvale wines ‘thieved’ from barrel.
(707) 963-7777 * 1000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574 * Hours: 10am-6:30pm * Fee: $15

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Favorite Wineries to Taste Cabernet?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Favorite Cab in Napa Valley?

Our Napa Valley Message Boards are teeming with activity! One of the latest conversations to hit the board are “5 Favorite Cabs”.  One of our more popular posters “Hawkeye” proposed the following:

Let’s suppose that we have one day to taste Cabernet’s in the Napa Valley (notice, I said Valley) and also suppose that you could manage to taste at 5 wineries. Let’s also propose that the cost of these Cab’s could be up to $100.00 for a 750L bottle. We are not going to take tours or rate tasting rooms. Let’s also assume that you could drive from one end of the valley to the other to select these wines. We want your five favorite Cabs in the Valley!

**What 5 Cabs would you select? (winery, year, vineyard, etc.)**

Already, several folks have already started to post replies touting the likes of:

  • 2005 Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch Cab
  • 2006 Kathryn Hall Cab
  • 2005 Bennett Lane Cab
  • 2005 Provenance Vineyards Cab

CLICK HERE to see more recommendations and be sure to add your two cents to the mix!

Stay at Rancho Caymus

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Reserve your stay at Rancho Caymus Inn

At the center of Napa Valley and nestled among the wineries of the world-famous Rutherford Bench wine region lies Ranch Caymus. This Napa Valley Inn offers a unique sense of rustic elegance with its distinct Spanish Hacienda style design and architecture all part of an effort to recapture the spirit of Napa Valley’s past.

Rancho Caymus is the perfect place to stay for a relaxing and peaceful getaway in Napa Valley. Enjoy “spacious, split-level suites are crafted from bright stucco walls surrounding distinctive handmade furnishings from Ecuador and Southern Mexico” and “slumber upon hand-carved black walnut beds, beneath artisan created wrought iron light fixtures.” Of course, your stay is further enhanced by an array of modern comforts and amenities such as flat screen televisions, free wireless internet access and some rooms featuring a wood-burning fireplace, private balcony, and Jacuzzi spa tub.  Take advantage of the current special offered HERE.

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