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Embark on a 'Women in Wine' Road Trip

Embark on a 'Women in Wine' Road Trip

A trio of sommeliers hit the road in honor of International Women’s Day

Three female sommeliers from Dorchester Collection hotels in London, Paris, and Milan are hosting a European Women in Wine Road Trip in honor of International Women’s Day in March.

Vanessa Cinti of London’s 45 Park Lane will kick off the "Women in Wine" series March 6 in London followed by Estelle Touzet of Paris’ Le Meurice, who will lead a tasting in Paris March 7. The road trip concludes in Milan March 8 with Alessandra Veronesi of Milan’s Hotel Principe di Savoia.

In a profession traditionally dominated by men, the Women in Wine Road Trip aims to celebrate female sommeliers. At each event, the sommeliers will lead discussions of wine trends and topics, and wine tastings comparing vintage and recent American, French, and Italian wines. Each event is $156 but guests can book the entire wine trip for $2,600. .

The Women in Wine Road Trip includes a one-night stay at each property, a bottle of wine selected by each sommelier, admission to all three Women in Wine events, a glass of champagne at lunch, and a discount on spa treatments.

Lauren Mack is the Special Projects Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.


Embark on a AmaWaterways Wine Cruise

If you are even a little bit interested in wine and river cruises, keep reading. AmaWaterways has assembled eight unique wine-themed river cruises along the Rhine, Rhône, Mosel and Danube, hosted by celebrity vintners and expert wine aficionados.

All eight of these specialized wine cruise itineraries offer guests wonderful opportunities to experience the richness of the wine regions and taste remarkable vintages.

There are two wine cruises in particular that I find truly unique and peak my curiosity.

It’s not all about California. Oddly enough, two excellent wine regions in the US are at nearly opposite ends of the geographic spectrum the Arizona high country and the Grand Traverse Bay area of northern Michigan.

Sam Pillsbury owns a small, award-winning winery near Sedona, Arizona. Yes, Arizona. Turns out that grapes grown along the Rhône do equally well in similar soil found in the high country in Northern Arizona. It’s taken a few years and a bit of grafting and now his Pillsbury Wine Company has gained fame and notoriety. His wines are served in celebrity chefs’ restaurants, including James Beard’s.

Then there’s Mark Johnson, Vice President and Winemaker at Chateau Chantal vineyards in Traverse City, Michigan. Part of his responsibilities include overseeing the Company’s grape growing and wine production. One of his passions is to produce an ice wine that adheres to strict German rules as to what is qualified to bear the name, ice wine.

So unique are these winemakers talents that Paul Lasley, a noted radio personality and travel expert, recently interviewed each of them on two recent broadcasts of his OnTravel Radio Show. On one show, Lasley interviewed Sam Pillsbury about the upcoming AmaWaterways wine cruise that Pillsbury will co-host with his Pillsbury Wine Company partner and celebrated winemaker, Eric Gromski.

Departing from Budapest on November 6 – 13, 2013 aboard the AmaPrima, this itinerary meanders along the Danube river through some of the most noted wine regions of Europe. Along with wine lectures and onboard wine tastings, there will be complimentary, escorted tours to historic wineries along the Danube and Rhine. Guests can debark the AmaPrima in Vilshofen or opt for the land extension to Prague.

On another radio show, Lasley interviewed Mark Johnson, so intrigued was he by Johnson’s award winning wines from Michigan. Johnson is also hosting an AmaWaterways wine-themed cruise on November 22 – 29, 2013. In a different itinerary that highlights the region of grape-growing that also produces fabulous ice wines, Johnson’s cruise will feature wines of the Rhine river region. After a November 22 departure from Amsterdam, the AmaCello winds its way south and east all the way to Basel, Switzerland.

As on Pillsbury and Gromski’s wine cruise, Johnson’s cruise will also have wine lectures, tastings and shore excursions to noted wineries. When the AmaCello arrives in Strasbourg, France, a complimentary motor coach tour takes guests along the ancient wine road to Colmar and Riquewihr, for additional wine tastings and learning enrichment.

In 2011, I was invited to participate on an AmaWaterways wine cruise from Luxembourg to Nuremburg aboard the AmaLegro, traveling alongside the beautiful steep slopes of the Mosel River. Not only was the scenery spectacular, the wines along this area had produced bountiful and beautiful 2010 wines. We visited a winery in nearly every city. In the evenings we were served unlimited wines from each particular region as we cruised along.

Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Europe. The throngs of tourists have gone home, the leaves are changing into a spectrum of gold and red hues and wineries are wrapping up the harvest season. Winery owners, sometimes accompanied by family members or even the town mayor, greet you with an incredibly warm welcome. Unlike on ocean cruise ships, wines that you purchase ashore aren’t confiscated and you may even open your new wine at dinner without paying a corkage fee.


Josh Gates Embarks on a Road Trip Adventure in Digital Series ‘Uncharted Discoveries’

The best part? Travel Channel fans planned his journey.

Related To:

Some of the best adventures are the ones you don’t plan on taking. You'll see Josh Gates and a few of his newest friends experience firsthand what happens when you leave the itinerary behind, go off the map into the unknown and leave room for the unexpected. Watch the crew embark on an unforgettable road trip in the Pacific Northwest for a digital-only, interactive series Uncharted Discoveries. The best part? Travel Channel fans planned their journey.

Fans visited Travel Channel’s Facebook page June 8-11 to vote on the excursions Josh and his friends tackled during their big adventure. They tuned in for a Facebook Live video Thursday, June 8 when Josh kicked off the trip. Then each morning, he presented two options in a live video for viewers to vote on where to send the crew that day. Fans chose to send them snow caving, kayaking, to make cheese and to go off-roading in sand dunes. Josh’s friends showed fans snippets of the adventure in real-time on Travel Channel’s Facebook page. Over the next few months, you’ll get the chance to see the entire road trip adventure unfold in four webisodes at travelchannel.com/roadtrips.

Meet the Crew

Get to know Josh’s friends who you'll see along for the ride and find out where you can follow their individual adventures.


A Weekend-Long Wine University


Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

As with many of the finer things in life, wine is an area of expertise that never ceases to expand: The more you learn, the more you realize how little you actually know.

To feed that thirst for knowledge—and then some—Belmond Charleston Place, in Charleston, South Carolina, has launched a three-day Wine U program that covers the essentials with help from Rick Rubel, the hotel’s advanced sommelier and wine director, and a number of guest speakers.

From August 22 to 24, dedicated students can learn about wine varieties, deductive wine tasting, the chemistry between food and wine and personal stocking strategies for at-home cellars. And to show how serious the program really is, the weekend wraps with a blind-tasting exam for all 20 of its pupils.

Attendees can expect to try rare, exceptional wines from the likes of Adelsheim, Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Krug and Shafer, and unwind after a hard day of study with a gourmet lunch and an eight-course dinner at the hotel’s Charleston Grill. Rates start at $3,000 205 Meeting St. 800-383-2335 charlestonplace.com/wineu.


Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg is the most popular road trip from Austin and people love this German-influenced town in the middle of Texas for the scenic views of hill country and vineyards. Did you know the Texas Hill Country is home to over 100 wineries and vineyards? Peach season is mid-May through mid-August and grape stomping happens in August.

Driving distance from Austin: 80 miles west (one hour and 30 minutes)

Points of interest:

  • Enchanted Rock – 11 miles of hiking trails
  • LBJ National Historical Park
  • Fredericksburg Wine Road 290
  • Pick-your-own-peach farms
  • Bluebonnet season peaks in late March and early April


Where to Eat and Drink in the Napa Valley

Just over an hour outside of San Francisco lies one of the country’s most-visited wine regions: the Napa Valley.

Photo By: Bob McClenahan ©2014 Bob McClenahan

Photo By: OPENKITCHENPhotography ©OPENKITCHENPhotography

Photo By: Steve Kepple ©Steve Kepple

Where to Eat and Drink in the Napa Valley

Where to Stay

Where to Eat Dinner

Where to Eat Lunch or Brunch

Snacks and Provisions

For Farm Lovers

738 Main St, St. Helena, CA 94574

Focused on Bordelaise-style wines, Long Meadow Ranch Winery crafts elegant, food-friendly wine with an organic, integrated farming system. At their 650-acre Mayacamas Estate winery and caves, they produce wine and premium olive oils, as well as raise grass-fed Highland cattle. At the Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, their estate-grown wines are paired with organic produce for ingredient-driven American farmhouse cooking. The onsite General Store is a place to taste and shop for artisanal goods, provisions and produce.

For Something Unique

8711 Silverado Trail, St. Helena, CA 94574

The Barrel Blending Experience at Conn Creek ($95) is a unique way to experience the terroir of the Napa Valley. Guests will learn about, taste and blend wines from the many distinctive regions of the area before blending their own bottle of wine to take home, complete with a customizable label.

For the History

1100 Larkmead Ln., Calistoga, CA 94515

The Firebelle Merlot blend at Larkmead Vineyards isn’t just an incendiary name — it’s a tribute to the winery’s founder, Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a pioneering 19th-century tomboy who earned the nickname Firebelle Lil as an honorary San Francisco firefighter before moving to Napa to start her winery. Now set on 150 acres just outside Calistoga, Larkmead offers by appointment daily tastings of the current and limited-release wines, including earthy Cabs and a summery Tocai Friulano. (Image courtesy of Larkmead)

For the Views

200 Taplin Rd., St. Helena, CA 94574

Joseph Phelps Vineyards recently completed a major renovation at its winery in St. Helena, enhancing the tasting room but still maintaining the building’s existing redwood exterior design. Newly created private tasting areas, a library and barrel room, plus even more vineyard views will allow you to sip in style.

For Something Bubbly

To Keep It Old School

4045 St. Helena Hwy., Calistoga, CA 94515

Situated in the hills above Calistoga, family-owned Castello di Amorosa truly is a castle, made with brick, wood and iron imported from Europe and combined with more than 8,000 tons of local Napa Valley stone. The estate produces red and white varieties that are sold only at the winery a tasting is also on offer, as well as a Royal Food and Wine Pairing Tour ($80 per person) and a Cheese and Wine Pairing tour ($60 per person), each including a tour of Dario Sattui’s authentically built 13 th -century Tuscan-style castle.

For Something Modern

4240 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558


The Darioush Estate was founded in 1997 by Iranian-born Darioush Khaledi and now comprises 120 acres in the southern Napa Valley. The tasting room and main building are new construction but reminiscent of ancient Persia, complete with columns and water fixtures. Their Fine Wines, Artisan Cheeses tasting is in partnership with Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County and includes a 90-minute shared tasting experience featuring a tour of the winery followed by a seated tasting in their Barrel Chai room with limited-release wines like Signature Viognier and Shiraz ($75 per person).

For the Gardens

8300 St. Helena Hwy., Napa, CA 94558

Cakebread Cellars was founded in 1973 and it’s worth a visit to taste some of their wines that might otherwise be out of budget. A reserve tasting ($40) features their Chardonnay Reserve and a selection of other reserve or library labels. Or stick to their flagship wines and pair them with food ($45) from culinary director Brian Streeter. Streeter uses Northern Californian ingredients (many from the onsite garden) and draws on the cuisines of the Mediterranean.

For Wine Geeks

1080 Fulton Ln., St. Helena, CA 94574

Acme Fine Wines in St. Helena is a wine shop run by wine-passionate locals who seem to know everyone in the valley. They have access to small-scale labels that are impossible to find elsewhere they are often the sole retailers for passion projects of winemakers and for labels that might otherwise go unnoticed. Schedule a curated tasting, or shop new labels with a little assistance (the wine club membership makes a great gift for friends).

Not Wine

1 Executive Way, Napa, CA 94558

Need a break from all of those Chardonnays and Zinfandels? Napa Smith Brewery now has an onsite taproom open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. They offer 10 beers on tap, including classics and only-on-tap, limited-release beers. Take a daily tour, or just stop in for beer flights or a pint.

For Something Intimate

915 Oakville Cross Rd., Oakville, CA 94562

Book one of the wine-and-food pairing experiences at Silver Oak and you'll be treated to Chef Dominic's seasonal and often local bites. The menu pairs Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir with herbs and vegetables from the onsite garden, and the whole experience is limited to eight people. Rebuilt after an unfortunate fire, the new winery opened in 2008 and showcases everything the estate has to offer.

For Something Sustainable

850 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, CA 94573

Honig winery and vineyard is focused on sustainability and maintaining a socially responsible business. Book an Eco-Tour and Tasting ($45) for a glimpse of the sustainably farmed vineyard, followed by a Classic Tasting of Winemaker Kristin Belair's Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.


19 Best Foods to Pack Up for a Road Trip

I'm thinking that as long as you don't camp out during stops, you should be okay if you keep it in the car with you in the A/C and out of the sun.

If you're worried, you could pick up a six-pack of cold sodas and stack them among the bottles - they'll help keep it cold and you'll have sodas!

Clicking the will recommend this comment to others.

Just like Sunshine842 said if you park your car, park in the shade. I keep my alcohol in a cooler bag with one hard, plastic frozen ice pack in it. One of the heavy duty ones or two wimpy frozen packs. This way, if you want to stop to eat(of course this is the only reason for road trips)you have no worries!!

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Keep the bottles in an insulated box in the air conditioned car. The insulation will greatly slow any possible heat infiltration into the bottles. If you are truly paranoid, throw some ziplocks of ice in with the bottles.

Agreed.
Plus: once back home, wait a few days before opening any of those bottles.

Can you explain what you mean by an insulated box? So you mean a styrofoam cooler? Thanks!

Styrofoam cooler, plastic wheeled cooler with fancy handles, you name it. I got a big styrofoam box my doctor was throwing out after the vaccines were delivered, keep it in my car trunk to bring stuff back from the supermarket. YMMV.

a cooler with ice is a good idea for the wine, for sure.

The spirits can definitely go in the trunk

How in the world does wine and spirits get transported from the source to the wholesaler to the store from which it is purchased? This may be a case of over thinking a non issue.

In areas where climate, too hot or too cold, is an issue many importers/distributors have reefers in ships or trucks to deal with this.
Many stores or vineyards will not ship in extreme weather or require one day shipping.

The wine I buy -- even the $15 bottles -- is shipped from the producer to the retailer at 56 degrees. The store is kept at cellar temperature. I think allowing wine to get overheated IS an issue.

In the "Better Late than Never" Department:

As someone who imported wines into the US for a living, let me say that wines are imported into the United States in any number of ways . . .

From Canada and Mexico, they come across the border in trucks, like everything else that is imported from those two countries. Typically the trucks will be refrigerated.

For shipments from the rest of the world, some comes in through air freight, that that's a tiny percentage of the total volume. OVERWHELMINGLY the wines are loaded onto containers (like everything else) and shipped via ocean freight. HOW that freight in shipped may vary with a) the country of origin of the wine b) the time of year the wine is being shipped and c) the U.S. destination. Let me explain.

>>> From EUROPE to the EAST COAST of the United States:

Keep in mind the ship traveling from, say, Marseilles in the Mediterranean or Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast of France, to any port city on the Eastern seaboard does NOT cross the equator. As a result, *some* importers on the East Coast do not use refrigerated containers ("reefers"), but regular "dry boxes" which may (or may not) contain some thermal insulation. Others may use reefers, but won't turn them on, figuring the extra insulation of the refrigerated container is sufficient. This is especially true in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. Most wine shippers *always* request that their container(s) be stored below the waterline. This request is just that, a request, and while it is often honored, it may not be. In the warmest months, these importers will use working reefers. That said, the top-quality small importers will ALWAYS use *working* reefers!

>>> From EUROPE to the WEST COAST of the United States:

Everything has to cross the Equator. Everything comes over in working reefers.

>>> From the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE to the US:

The same. Everything has to cross the Equator. Everything comes over in working reefers.

>>> From EUROPE to the WEST COAST of the United States:
>>> Everything has to cross the Equator.

Why? Panama Canal is above the Equator.

Blame the U.S. system of education . . . I misspoke -- I meant to say "tropics," but I just cut-and-pasted from the Southern Hemisphere paragraph (which I actually wrote before, but moved to appear at the end).

See? To err is human. To really **** things up, you need a computer!

but not by enough to spare a container of wine from scorching tropical temperatures.

our household goods container(with wines imported under a temporary importation license) was actually stored below the waterline.

We nervously unpacked the cases, and were delighted to find that even after a couple of days sitting in the Miami heat, the bottles were still cool to the touch.

Very lucky! As I said, shippers may request that their container be placed below the waterline, but there are only so many "slots" below the waterline and so many requests . . . but YES, if you're lucky enough to receive that placement . . . .

So when virtually every bottle of imported wine I buy, regardless of price, has a label that says, "Shipped at 56 degrees," is that to be believed?

I believe it depends on the importer.

In 40+ years of being in the trade, I have NEVER seen a label that says, "Shipped at 56 degrees."

Maybe that's the name of the shipping company?

It's Fleet Street Wine Merchants. Here are three random bottles from my wine rack.

The wine was all purchased at Moore Brothers in Wilmington, DE. http://moorebrothers.com/shipped-at-56/

Having spent an inordinate amount of my career arranging shipping (non-reefer) of stuff around the world, I call bullshit.

NOBODY can control shipping to that degree.

This much I DO know: When Bele Casel's Prosecco is ready to leave the property of the winegrower, the truck that comes to transport it is a refrigerated truck. I can't speak to anything that happens after that point, but Moore Brothers stakes its reputation on maintaining cellar temps for the entire journey of their wines, from winegrower to retail store. Maybe some importers take their shipping responsibilities more seriously than others.

Cindy, a quick search of the internet does not reveal any US importer by the name of Fleet Street Wine Merchants -- only a passing mention in a New York Times blog post mentioning that, "Moore Brothers only carries French, Italian and German wines. No New World at all . . . [and] all of Moore Brothers stock comes from two importers, Fleet Street Wine Merchants and Wine Traditions, with whom Moore Brothers has close working relationships."

FWIW, that makes me suspect that Moore Bros. owns Fleet Street, although above-board or surreptitiously I cannot say, but the ONLY retailers I know of who limit their imported wines to a single importer or two are places where the importer owns the retailer or vice-versa.

Zin -- it's possible that at the time that article was written in 2006, Moore Brothers only carried wines from France, Italy and Germany, but a quick glance at their website shows wines from Argentina, as well as California and Oregon, among their current offerings. While I know nothing about the relationship between Moore Bros. and Fleet Street, it's an interesting issue, and I intend to ask about it next time I'm in the store. So what if Moore Bros. DOES own Fleet Street? Is that problematic, and if so, why?

But for me, the lingering question is, why would they make the bold claim, "Shipped at 56°" if it wasn't true? That sounds like a statement that just begs to be challenged.

Because someone will believe it and buy the wine thinking that it's actually true.

And why do I call bullshit? Because the label says "at 56°" It doesn't say at 55 or 57 -- it says at 56.

There is just no. stinking. way. to keep a 40' reefer at EXACTLY 56 throughout the entire shipping process.

Your home refrigerator (whether it's a Sears & Roebuck or a SubZero commercial model) won't keep exact temperature accuracy for 6 weeks, so there's no way a commercial shipping container can.

I'm not saying that they don't ship their wines in a reefer, or that the wine is damaged, but I'm flat-out not gonna buy that they keep it EXACTLY at temperature with no variation for 4-6 weeks.

Cindy, nice catch on the timing of the article I missed that.

Let me switch gears for a quick moment. Kermit Lynch is often considered the "grandfather" of modern, small American wine importers, having started in 1972 at a time when major importers were owned by huge spirits-focused conglomerates. He has long been based in the SF Bay Area, starting in the small town of Albany and then in Berkeley. As an importer, he sells "his" wines across the US to various wholesalers who -- in turn -- sell to retailers and restaurants within their sales territory. In California, however, Kermit obtained the appropriate licenses from the California ABC to be both a California wholesaler AND a retailer.

Normally this is a rather difficult task under California law, but licenses never die, they just get bought-and-sold, and his were old enough that they were exempt from the "vertical integration." His retail store only sells what he imports.

In *that* situation, Kermit does indeed have control of the wine from producer to retail shelf -- the wines are picked up from the producers in France and Italy in temperature-controlled trucks they are stored in a temperature-controlled consolidation warehouse, and loaded onto *working* temperature-controlled refrigerated containers for shipment across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, and into the Port of Oakland finally the containers are unloaded at Kermit's temperature-controlled warehouse, located less than one mile from his retail store.

When he started this in 1972, this was HIGHLY unusual -- indeed, completely unheard of -- but thanks to Kermit, this practice is now far more common than not . . . at least for wines coming into the West Coast or wines from the Southern Hemisphere.

North Berkeley Imports is another one, also here in Berkeley, CA. Their retail store, North Berkeley Wines, also *only* carried imported wines which they import themselves, *but* they also carry a limited number of California wines. Since all the imports come from North Berkeley, they too can "guarantee" shipping conditions.

I know nothing of Moore Brothers, which in fact, operates three stores in three states: Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. (The legal bureaucratic hoops must be a nightmare!) So anything and everything here is speculation/opinion. Each of the wines you photographed is imported by Petit Pois Corp. T/A (dba) Sussex Wine Merchants, Moorestown, NJ. I would *guess* that Moore Bros. either owns the importer (or owns a piece of it at any rate), or vice-versa (though I doubt it's the importer owning the retailer after all, there actually is a Greg Moore, and I presume he has a brother). ^) It looks like they probably own a piece of the town, too!

Now were that the case, I would say that the odds of their using working reefers for all their wines is actually quite good (a la Kermit or North Berkeley, for example). However, that leaves in question just who are "Fleet Street Wine Merchants," which IMHO is a more important question.

Moore Brothers, of course, has a website, but I cannot find a website for Petit Pois Corp., or for Sussex Wine Merchants, which I would think was important if you are importing wines to sell . . . unless all you import is already sold to one retailer and you aren't doing any wholesale distribution whatsoever. And there is no website for Fleet Street Wine Merchants, which I can only presume is yet another dba -- go figure! Why are there the names of three importers when one will suffice?


Embark on an Alaskan seafood adventure

Bustling pretty much all day and night, this dollar bill decorated seafood shack invites you to get cozy with seafood chowder, locally brewed beers and spacious booths you may just want to curl up in after stuffing yourself with seafood. (Photo: courtesy of Denali Salmon Bake)

If you love eating seafood, push a trip to Alaska to the top of your travel list.

The largest source of seafood in the USA, Alaska’s fishing boats harvested 3,233 million pounds of pollock, 891 million pounds of salmon, 722 million pounds of cod, 88 million pounds of crab and beyond in the 2014-2015 fishing season alone.

A state completely devoid of farmed fish, every piece of seafood you eat in (and from) Alaska is sustainable: The Last Frontier’s 34,000 miles of coastline are responsibly managed with permits and licenses to prevent overfishing and ensure healthy fish populations year after year, which makes sense, when so much of the local economy is dependent on healthy ocean systems — more than 31,580 fisherman (this includes women, it’s a bucket term) run Alaska’s 8,600 commercial fishing vessels.

The only state with sustainable fishing literally written into its constitution, Alaska has never had a seafood species on the endangered list, and everything you enjoy from the oceans here is completely natural.

Eager to procure your own catch of the day? Book a deep sea fishing trip with ProFish-n-Sea Charters out of Seward. Crew members provide all the equipment and guidance you need to help catch halibut, rockfish or salmon on half-day or full-day trips. Keep what you catch and take advantage of ProFish’s free filleting services so you can eat the dinner you lured directly out of Resurrection Bay. If you prefer to show off your catch back home, head to Captain Jack’s for sport fish processing, meaning your fish will be vacuum packed, flash frozen and shipped overnight to the destination of your choice.

Whether you’re going for the DIY fresh catch or prefer seafood prepared by the pros, Alaska is full of restaurants, markets and cafes where you can eat local salmon, halibut, crab and much, much more.

Flip through the photos above to see Alaska's seafood destinations from Denali to Homer. Thanks to the state’s vastness, you’ll have to save Juneau and the southeast for another trip.

Plus, pair your fresh catch with a cold pint at Alaska's craft breweries below.


The Best Things to Do in Napa and Sonoma, According to Locals

How to get the most out of a long weekend in California wine country.

The following is an excerpt from Wildsam&aposs latest book, WILDSAM Napa & Sonomawhich leads travelers into the heart of California&aposs wine country with guidance from trusted locals and wine experts. Check recommended venues for COVID-19 updates before visiting.

When it comes to Northern California wine, ancient earth-building intersects with the latest marketing trends. Behind bold-face reputations and a glossy surface lies a true farming culture stitched from hard work, generational knowledge and expert craft. While editing our new book about Napa & Sonoma, we looked for destinations that embodied the region&aposs roots and the deep pursuit of wine.  

The beauty of Napa and Sonoma counties is that you can visit many times over and never experience the region (or the wine) the same way twice. You can define your personal favorite spots, and craft your own schedule. For the first-time explorer, we took some of our must-visit destinations and created a three-day-weekend itinerary for anyone seeking a deeper sense of place and the stories of interesting people behind the vines.

Day 1: The Yountville Ride

Before moving into open spaces toward the coast, start with exploring the cities&apos centers. To see real Napa at its most vivid, hop on two wheels or explore on foot through the Napa Valley Vine Trail. This section covers 12.5 miles through the city of Napa&aposs working-class roots, into the tumble of verdant vineyards that line Highway 29 until reaching Yountville&aposs luxe center. Rent rides from Napa Valley Bike Tours in downtown Napa, then cruise a couple blocks to La Esperanza Tacosਏor exceptional handmade street food. Just a block away, the Vine Trail picks up next to St. Clair Brown Brewery and Winery, a handy early hydration stop and rare crossover: Elaine St. Clair stakes a claim as the nation&aposs only woman working as both winemaker and brewmaster. Pedal alongside the tracks of industrial Napa, eyes peeled for murals.

The trail straightens out at the scenic Oak Knoll section, where wine country&aposs bucolic fantasy quickly percolates into the small-town reality. To your right, iconic wineries (Ashes & Diamondsਊnd Trefethen) dot Highway 29 to your left, rows of vines serrate the valley floor. As Ashes & Diamonds founder Kashy Khaledi says, "The winery is a reaction to what Napa Valley became. It&aposs also a love letter to what it was." Pull off at Elyse Winery, a disarming setting for small-production zins and cabs from serious heritage vineyards. As the oak-shaded route bends into Yountville, pass the French Laundry Gardens, and wind up on Washington Street, Yountville&aposs epicenter of the good life. Stop at Jean-Charles Boisset&aposs rococo Atelier Fine Foodsਏor outrageous luxuries (caviar, foie gras) and Bouchon Bakeryਏor coveted macarons.

Put your name in at Ciccio, Yountville&aposs Italian charmer. Its repurposed market building boasts vintage Italian movie posters and handwritten butcher paper menus for a festive, unpretentious evening. Drink a negroni while you wait on Neapolitan pizza and crispy-skinned whole branzino. Too late to bike back? No problem𠄿or a $20 fee, return your bike to Napa Valley Bike Tours&apos Yountville outpost, then call for your chariot (which may just be an Uber but could well feel like a chariot by now).

Day 2: The Carneros Point-to-Point

Foggy bay breezes create a cooler climate perfect for pinot and chardonnay𠅊nd a welcome break from Napa Valley&aposs spicier heat. For a satisfying arc, drive west to east from the Sonoma County side. On Highway 21, visit Cornerstone Sonoma, where Sunset magazine&aposs test gardens grow amid boutiques and tasting rooms. Angelo&aposs Wine Country Deli (spot the rooftop cow) can supply a classic sandwich.

Heading eastbound on Highway 12 to Denmark Street, take increasingly bucolic turns to find a double-whammy of winery neighbors. Tastemaking Scribe Winery serves farm-to-table snacks and terroir explorations at its sublime hacienda, a 19th-century estate once left to ruin (and turkey farming), now an idyll in the breezes of the Petaluma Gap. Next door, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, the oldest continuously family-owned winery in California, provides a perfectly unfussy experience on lush, sprawling grounds. On Fremont Drive, sop it all up with a crucial second lunch at Lou&aposs Luncheonette, a gourmet Southern roadside diner, before jumping back on the 12. 

Cross the Napa County line to find agrarian-chic Hudson Ranch and Vineyards: hikes through plus farmlands and wine picnics. Nearby, browse the di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, a collection and sculpture garden featuring modern Northern Californian artists.

We land at Carneros Resort & Spaਏor a dose of choose-your-own-unwind, from booking a hilltop poolside cabana to a simple hangout by the fireplace at the outdoor pavilion for a post-road cocktail (your call). Live music. Bocce. All things good and true.


I’m Naomi.
Travel Blogger from the Netherlands.

Past trips: Lebanon, Wales, Argentina, and Iceland.
Next up: Staying Home. Please use my blog as inspiration for your next trip and travel responsible.

Find out more about me, here. Check out my web stories too!


Watch the video: MIA AMBER DAVIS (December 2021).