February 2013 “Best of the Best” Wineries
With our first Napa Valley visit of the year now in the books, I wanted to share a quick recap on just some of the incredible wine, food and experiences. We were thrilled to benefit from sunny, 70-degree temperatures, which are pretty unusual for wine country during this time of year. The stunning, mustard yellow vineyards were even more beautiful than I remember.
We stayed at the lovely Solage Calistoga resort, which allowed for much-needed relaxation. I was even able to keep up with my Spinning classes at their indoor/outdoor fitness facility and will likely never get enough of their one-of-a-kind pool area or Solbar restaurant.
During the daytime, we filled our itinerary with a great mix of new and favorite wineries.
By the Numbers
Days in Napa Valley: 6
Miles driven in the Valley: 309
Wineries visited: 22
Wines tried during tastings: 125 (not including wine ordered at dinner)
Oysters ordered: 48
Orders of bread pudding for dessert: 3
Pounds gained: TBD
Best of the Best: Wineries
We had so many great tastings, but five wineries jumped out as the “Best of the Best” this visit for their overall experience and top-to-bottom offering of solid, high-quality wine. For those considering a trip to Napa Valley, I would certainly recommend these stops:
- Shafer Vineyards – This was our second visit to Shafer and equally wonderful. Nestled in the Stags Leap hillside, the winery has an amazing view – especially from its 12-person tasting room. It’s tough to beat their magnificent line-up; we loved everything. As an added benefit, we were fortunate to meet John Shafer, who entered the winery as we were finishing the tasting.
- Dunn Vineyards – While we’ve enjoyed Dunn Cabernets before, this was our first time at the winery on Howell Mountain. Randy Dunn’s daughter, Christina, was our host and was extremely warm and welcoming. After a tour of the family’s property and cave, we were able to taste three wines over great conversation. Randy also popped in after finishing up some work outside. We always love these opportunities to meet the faces behind such iconic labels! It goes without saying, but the wines are stellar.
- Kelly Fleming – We planned this second visit to Kelly Fleming because we simply can’t get enough of her Cabernet, “Big Pour” red
blend and Sauvignon Blanc. If I could build a house from the ground, up, I would ask Kelly to design it. Her rustic-modern Calistoga winery has to be my favorite from an architecture and interior design standpoint. I even envy the small accents throughout the space. On this occasion, Kelly’s daughter, Colleen served as our host and I was blown away by her friendliness, knowledge and passion for wine. A nice treat was the ability to taste their 2010 Rose and a cheese plate paired to the wines.
- Larkmead Vineyards – Larkmead, in Calistoga, is and will likely always be our favorite place to go. It just feels like “home.” There’s something about the story of its amusing history (tied to the Coit family from San Francisco), the hosts who greet us at the door, the serene view and top-notch wines. I could sit out back sipping wine on their red rocking chairs all day!
- Lamborn Family Vineyards – I would label this as our best new find. Lamborn, on Howell Mountain, was recommended to us by a friend and proved to be another unique experience. Tastings are held at the home of Mike and Terry Lamborn and, on this particular day, we were able to sit out back to sip on their porch. This couple really couldn’t be any more down-to-earth or accommodating. We enjoyed their 2009 Zinfandel, as well as the 2005 and 2008 Cabernets. (Wines are made by the famed Heidi Barrett.)
More “Best of the Best” to come. Up next: wines and restaurants.