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Gourmand vineyard tasting experiences in Napa and Sonoma


Not way back the cheese and charcuterie board was thought of the gold commonplace for a high-end wine tasting expertise. Immediately, wineries in California’s Napa and Sonoma Counties are bringing wine and meals pairings to a brand new stage, providing multi-course tasting menus in non-public settings embellished with high-quality linens, stemware and bespoke service to showcase premium cuvée wines at their greatest.

All 10 experiences really useful right here function meals and wine however no two are the identical, differing in every part from the fashion to the setting. What they do have in widespread (except for being a marvellous approach to take pleasure in wine nation) is an emphasis on the wine, before everything, and utilizing fastidiously ready meals to boost it.

‘You may get cheese and charcuterie anyplace in wine nation,’ says Hamel Household Wines govt chef Clinton Huntsman. ‘It’s not particular any extra. It’s way more significant to indicate visitors our wines with an expertise that has a real dinner-party really feel.’


View from the Library on the Hamel Household Wines Property Home, Sonoma. Credit score: John Bedell

15401 Sonoma Freeway, Sonoma, CA 95476

Reserve Expertise

Put aside two hours for this go to, which begins with a splash of Hamel’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and a garden-inspired amuse bouche (assume herb and preserved lemon parmesan crisp with ricotta, topped with English pea purée) adopted by a non-public tour of the winery, vineyard and cellar (together with barrel tastings). Vineyard chef Clinton Huntsman’s 4 programs play to the season’s strengths, with dishes corresponding to a poached egg with inexperienced garlic cream, porcini, sunflower and fried onion, or a decadent bacon-wrapped rabbit loin with lentil and watercress. The setting is an opulent, however not stuffy, non-public vineyard library overlooking the grounds, so that you’ll really feel just like the lord and woman of the manor. Out there every day, $150 (£123) per particular person.


The terrace at Gloria Ferrer, close to Massive Bend, Sonoma

23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476

Style on the Terrace

Glowing wines dominate Ferrer’s extra informal five-course expertise, but additionally count on to see a Pinot Noir or two. You’ll be seated on the vineyard’s sunny terrace and taken care of by a wine educator (who additionally tends to different non-public teams having fun with the patio) for this 90-minute expertise. The 5 programs are damaged down right into a major starter (we had prawns stewed with ouzo, tomatoes, fennel and feta) paired with the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs, adopted by a plate that includes three distinctive bites to pair with three further sparklings. The finale includes a demi-sec and dessert fizz. Government chef Raymond Schafer tailors his altering menu to the seasonality of elements and encourages the blending and matching of bites and bubblies. If not on the pairings checklist, make sure to search out a style of Ferrer’s scrumptious Carneros Cuvée bottlings. Out there Thursday-Sunday, $95 (£78) per particular person (most six visitors).


Joseph Phelps tasting rooms, off the Silverado Path, Napa Valley. Credit score: Matt Morris

200 Taplin Street, St Helena, CA 94574

Bountiful Desk

This communal expertise lasts virtually three hours and options seven programs paired with the wide-ranging choices in Phelps’ portfolio of wines with choices from the far Sonoma Coast to Napa Valley. Joseph Phelps was as a lot gourmand as winemaker, and this menu displays that. It’s an intimate expertise (not more than 12 visitors) hosted in a non-public eating room that boasts sweeping winery views. You’ll kick issues off with canapés outdoors on the patio after which progress to the lavishly set desk on your first course (assume Kaluga caviar with corn pudding, parsley emulsion and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc). A parade of dishes and high-quality wines follows – branzino, Thai curry, dry-aged strip loin – narrated by your tasting information who will elaborate on the wines, the pairing and the vineyard historical past. Out there Wednesday-Sunday, $300 (£247) per particular person.


Ram’s Gate, southern Sonoma County. Credit score: Alan Campbell

28700 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476

Seasonal Wine & Meals Expertise

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the celebrities right here, however you’ll additionally see Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc throughout your two-hour, four-course culinary journey. It begins within the courtyard with a welcome glass of wine adopted by a non-public tour that highlights the farming strategies and winemaking philosophy of Ram’s Gate. Government chef Ruby Oliveros dishes up artisanal pairings such because the Property Chardonnay with oyster and wakame in burnt miso consommé with smoked trout roe and crispy rice pearls. Out there Thursday-Monday, $160 (£132) per particular person (max. six visitors per social gathering).


Opus One. Credit score: John Bedell

7900 St Helena Freeway, Oakville, CA 94562

The Artwork of the Desk

Michelin-star sensibilities be part of a gastronomically targeted wine tasting right here. After having fun with canapés and 2010 classic fizz from sister firm Champagne Barons de Rothschild on the vineyard’s rooftop overlook, you might be taken on a tour that ends on the vineyard’s swanky new tasting areas overlooking the vineyards. Tables are artfully appointed with Frette linens, Baccarat crystal and Zalto stemware – even the ground, comprised of Jurassic limestone, has panache. The meal is a four-course ballet that includes library wines from Opus One and a collection of French wines from the Baron Philippe de Rothschild portfolio. Anticipate dishes corresponding to a Dungeness crab salad over an avocado mousse with blood orange, or sport hen crépinette with black trumpet mushroom and Jerusalem artichoke puree. The service, just like the wine, is impeccable, and chef Sara Scott’s delicacies expresses the season with a pitch-perfect stability of acid and salt on the palate. Out there on request, $750 (£616) per particular person.


Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars non-public eating room. Credit score: Bob McClenahan / Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

5766 Silverado Path, Napa, CA 94558

The Cellarius Kitchen Expertise

Wine, storytelling and delicacies come collectively on this extraordinary Cabernet Sauvignon-focused expertise. The setting is in a non-public glass-walled eating room that appears out into the gardens, and the kitchen has a theatrical really feel, separated from the visitors by two outsized glass doorways that open into the eating room. Settle into your plushly padded seat for chef Travis Westrope’s dazzling two-and-a-half-hour tasting menu paired with Stag’s Leap wines. Westrope, who has an encyclopaedic information of the vineyard (ask concerning the Foucault’s pendulum) invitations questions and dialogue from his visitors. Getting into the kitchen is inspired; take photos of the preparation and really enter into the culinary expertise. Pairings are impressed, corresponding to a rosehip tea-steamed Loch Duart salmon with ocean microgreens and shiso alongside a Fay Cabernet Sauvignon. Out there Saturdays and Sundays, $245 (£201) per particular person.


Spherical Pond Property terrace eating. Credit score: Briana Marie Images

875 Rutherford Street, Rutherford, CA 94573

Il Pranzo

Spherical Pond’s govt chef Fernando Arias has entry to ample seasonal fodder for his four-course tasting menu by working virtually solely with the vineyard’s 1.2ha of gardens. The pairing journey begins within the vineyard backyard, the place you may rise up shut and private with the very produce you might be about to take pleasure in. After the backyard tour, you may go for a non-public desk on the terrace (which boasts 360° winery views) or within the eating room. Anticipate the sudden, as Arias relishes the unorthodox, corresponding to his Lyonnaise salad that showcases farm eggs poached in a sauce of brown butter and farm olive oil, paired with Spherical Pond’s daring Proprietary Left Financial institution pink. Says Arias: ‘With the gardens and the wines now we have, I really feel invincible!’ Out there Thursday- Sunday, $225 (£185) per particular person (max. six visitors).


Hess-Persson: the artwork of chocolate and wine

4411 Redwood Street, Napa, CA 94558

Wine & Chocolate Expertise

Chocolate and wine lovers ought to ebook this two-hour interactive expertise with Hess-Persson vineyard’s in-house chocolatier Jason Collins. You’ll discover flavours as you create your personal chocolate bar. Afterwards, sit down and uncover tips on how to pair wine and chocolate with a tasting that includes truffles created by Collins. Out there Friday- Monday (not each month – verify web site), $160 (£132) per particular person.


Pairing choices at Darioush. Credit score: Alexander Rubin Images

4240 Silverado Path, Napa, CA 94558

By Invitation Solely

The vineyard’s imposing column-lined entrance units a regal tone for this shared tasting expertise. It begins with a luxurious begin within the vineyard library (clad with a draped velvet ceiling), the place you’ll take pleasure in a glass of the Darioush Sauvignon Blanc. A brief tour, led by your vineyard host, leads the way in which to proprietor Darioush Khaledi’s non-public underground cellar the place the chef waits, presenting a desk bedecked with 4 dishes. All the programs and wines are supplied without delay to permit visitors to experiment with the pairings. Umami is central to this tasting, for the wines and delicacies alike. Native mushrooms with parmesan foam or a mesquite-grilled ribeye are paired with a collection of Darioush’s Cabernet-focused wines, together with its unique Darius II Cabernet Sauvignon, often solely obtainable on allocation. Out there Wednesday- Sunday, $150 (£123) per particular person.


Lynmar Property. Credit score: Karen Schmautz

3909 Frei Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Collectors Lunch Pairing

Quiet little Lynmar Property is a jewel-box setting nestled in one of the crucial vibrant winery and vineyard gardens in Sonoma. Take your seat at a non-public desk overlooking the buzzing botanical splendour and let a bunch information you thru an elevated four-course lunch ready by property chef David Frakes. Frakes does a marvellous job of bringing Lynmar’s dainty however highly effective Pinot Noir wines into focus with pairings corresponding to grilled lamb with Israeli couscous, rose harissa labneh and braised torpedo onions. A lot of the menu options wine and meals grown on the property. Out there Thursday-Sunday, $200 (£164) per particular person (max. six visitors).


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