Wine Tasting in Napa

This was our first trip to Napa and after reading several tips on wine tasting etiquettes on various blogs and books, we decided on two different wineries for a more complete experience.

The view of the valley

When reserving a spot for wine tasting at the winery, you will need to be familiar with these terms…

Wine Bar Tasting: The most common wine tasting experience where you step up to the bar and the list of wines is displayed. For $10 – $40, you have the option of tasting a good selection, and perhaps a library or reserve wine for a bit more $.

Sit Down Tasting: Requires an appointment and may be a slightly higher fee. You will likely be seated in a wine tasting room, and are poured a selection of wines by the host. This is often a good choice since you can learn the unique characteristics of each wine and savor them in a relaxed setting.

Walk Around Tasting: A combination of a tour and tastings. The host walks you around the winery to pour the first round and explain the wine making process. Then you’re moved to another place within the winery to sample the next wine and so on…

Barrel Tasting: This is often included as part of the tour and the guide takes a special siphon placed into a hole at the top of a barrel to extract tasting samples of  a maturing wine.

So, lets start this tour 🙂

Regusci Winery  – Ranch Tasting ($25/person – Sit Down Tasting) 
Napa1 - 1 (4)
And we’re here!

The oldest family Ranch in Napa Valley’s renowned Stags Leap District; this winery offered a laid back setting with beautiful views of the valley.

Napa - 1 (1)
Colorful flowers against the lush winery

And rows of grapes…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Look at that view!

We were seated in their tasting room, which was a mix of modern and rustic.

Yes, those bottles were just for display!

We tasted a mix of reds (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and whites (Chardonnay) – 4 wine tastings are included in the Ranch Tasting.

And wrapped up our visit with a stroll in their beautiful gardens  planted with lemon and olive trees, and lots of bright flowers!

One last pic of this view!

Next, we needed to eat some food before we stop for another tasting :). It’s never a good idea to go drinking on an empty stomach – so make sure that you eat a good breakfast and space out the tastings with meals!

Travigne Restaurant – St. Helena
Who’s ready to eat?

TraVigne is a northern italian restaurant located in the heart of Napa valley’s historic St. Helena. The drive here was beautiful and made for a quintessential wine country experience.

The courtyard setting at the back offers a really nice spot for outdoor seating

The restaurant has a quaint old-world charm and a tree-lined courtyard for beautiful outdoor seating. It tends to get really hot, really quick, so bear that in mind when you take a seat outdoors!

The food was absolutely delicious; fresh hand-made mozzarella, rabbit ragu pappardelle and the rosemary pizzetta with fresh roasted garlic- heaven!

Waiting eagerly for our meal!

The meal was finally polished off with an espresso and we were off to our next stop…

Castello di Amorosa – Vineyard Tour & Tasting ($33/person – Walk Around Tasting)

This definitely requires a reservation ahead of time since it’s one of the more “touristy” wineries and tends to get crowded in the afternoons.

Driving to the vineyard

Castello di Amorosa is the only authentic medieval (13th-century) Italian Tuscan castle and winery built in America, and has been in business since April 2007. The winery was built by Dario Sattui, a successful Italian winemaker and entrepreneur, who began construction in 1994. The result of this marathon project is definitely worth a tour as it transports you to true medieval times; complete with a torture chamber and secret tunnels filled with wine!

Napa1 - 1 (8)
A true Italian castle requires you to cross the moat!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
8,000 tons of hand-chiseled stones were brought in from Europe
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The courtyard mimics a real medieval castle

The castle also has an enormous Great Hall with 2-story replica of Tuscan frescoes painted by (real) Italian artists and a 500-year old fireplace.

Napa 12
The great hall with Italian frescoes
Napa13
Sure feels good to be King for a day!

The winery/castle also includes a dungeon and torture chamber, a medieval church and arguably the single most impressive wine barrel room in the U.S. (connected with long tunnels stored with wine).

Napa1 - 1 (13)
Dungeons and wines!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The enormous wine cellar

The wine cellar has impressive ancient Roman cross-vaulted ceilings (this room can also be rented for private events).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Largest collection of stored wines

The guide/host led us to the cellar for a barrel tasting, and then finally to one of the several tasting rooms where we sampled a good selection of wines.

Castello di Amorosa wines are made and sold only at the winery with no distribution to stores or restaurants.  Visitors taste from a wide selection that is truly noteworthy, and if you pay a bit extra, you can also taste the Il Barone, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon which received 94 points from leading international wine critics!

You can purchase wines directly from the winery and they ship the bottles to you; or you can become a member of the wine club and get some discount (read more here).

Don’t pass the opportunity to roam around a little more (after the tour) to admire the views of the valley…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The drought is starting to affect Napa…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
And maybe one last stroll
Napa1 - 1 (16)
The castle even has its own meadows with sheep!!

And just like that…our trip to Napa is towards its end! We can officially wrap up our wine tasting experience and get ready for Monterey and Big Sur 🙂

Goodbye Napa and hope to see you soon! ❤

Napa - 1
The orange hue against vineyards

Thanks for reading!

xo, – A&A

Thanks for reading!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s