Located in the heart of Sonoma Valley, St. Francis has a talented wine-making team that focuses on producing high-quality varietals from hand-harvested grapes. Its two wine clubs give you the opportunity to sample new wines that are not available in retail stores and restaurants, while the Visitor Center offers a fantastic view of the mountains and vineyards (it can also be booked for weddings and other family functions). A knowledgeable staff is at hand to guide you through the intricate details of wine-making.
Safari West is a 400-acre (162-hectare) sanctuary in the center of the wine country, where exotic mammals and birds reside. Started as a private facility, the preserve is now open to the public and conducts tours and field trips for those interested. Attracting over 60,000 people annually, Safari West is dedicated to the preservation of species and conducts interaction with students and educational programs. Tent cabins and other lodging is provided for those who wish to stay at the reserve. Amenities on-site include swimming pool, restaurant, and massages.
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens was the abode of American horticulturist, Luther Burbank. This historical landmark can be explored by the visitors and variety of tours are on offer. His gardens, the museum and greenhouse are a must-visit for all who are interested in horticulture.
The Schramsberg winery was established way back in the year 1862 by German immigrants, and a century later it became the first winery in America to attempt the production of sparkling wines. Today, it produces eight varietals of sparkling wine—they are made primarily from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes and all of them are bottle-fermented. For a taste, you can visit this historic winery by appointment.
The Castello di Amorosa, located in Calistoga, is truly one of the most unique wineries in Napa Valley. This genuine castle took 14 years to build and opened in 2007. The castle has many features that make it truly unique, including a moat, a drawbridge, a chapel and even a torture chamber, complete with authentic instruments of inflicting pain like the iron maiden. Other than the exquisite craftsmanship, the castle offers several different wine tasting packages, although they do not have a winery on site. Visitors can also take horse-drawn carriage tours of the estate and attend church services in the castle.
The name "old faithful" is most closely associated with the Yellowstone Park geyser, but it is actually used to describe any geyser that erupts on a regular schedule. Boiling hot water shoots 60 feet (18.3 meters) into the crystal blue sky, while spectators gather casually around and witness this natural spectacle. Also don't miss the fascinating exhibit on geyser eruptions and earthquake predictions.
The vineyards in Sonoma are lush and extensive, and Domaine Saint George is no exception—it capitalizes on the natural richness of the area by cultivating top-notch grapes, the flavor of which is sure to cheer up many a barbecue or dinner party. The winery has been around for a long time, so expect quality produce. Boasting an excellent cellar, it takes utmost care in the preservation and blending of the varietals. Saint George has won enough Barrel Reserve Awards to fill up a keg, so fix up a date and let the wines flow!
A small winery located in the Bennett Valley, Sable Ridge introduces a minimum of four new wines in the market every year, and has been the proud recipient of several awards since 1998. Grapes grown in Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Sonoma Valley are bottled to produce a number of varietals, including "rich and balanced Zinfandels" that top the list of Sable Ridge's hand-crafted wines. You can buy their wines both online and from various restaurants and retail shops in California.
Organic farming and wine-making is the hallmark of Helena View Johnston Vineyards. What started off as just appreciation for good wine has grown into a winery of exceptional Bordeaux Red varieties. The winery and tasting rooms are tucked into full grown trees with a cave built in for the storage and maturing of wines. The winery also buys top quality fruits from the neighboring farms to make its signature wines. You'll need to call ahead for a tour.
1998 Stony Hill White Riesling leaves a distinct tang of melon and apricot with each sip. Another vintage treasure of Stony Hill Vineyard is the 1996 Stony Hill Chardonnay that imparts a unique toasty taste with every sip mingled with a bit of apple and pear. Their wines are produced by crushing the grapes in oak cooperage and then left to age in oak barrels. This is something that helps in producing fine and aptly flavored wines. They say 'balanced' is the way to be.
The father-son duo of the Merlo family work together to produce varietals of Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Syrah, Moscato, and Cabernet Franc. Located on the Dry Creek Valley Appellation, the 200-acre (81-hectare) estate not only grows its own grapes, but also sells the fruit to other wineries. Wine barrel tastings are hosted for visitors to the place, while other events like Winemaker dinner, have its own fan base.
If Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sound like music to your ears, a visit to the Freeman Vineyard and Winery in the charming Russian River Valley town of Sebastopol awaits you. The brainchild of Ken and Akiko Freeman, this family-run winery is among the finest in the area, and the wines produced here are full-bodied and can go with haute cuisines. Check the website for more information.