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Napa/Sonoma Adventures: Wineries and more

We recently went to Napa/Sonoma and had a wonderful time. We attended a great cooking class and visited some amazing wineries. If you want to experience something different, visit Corison, Somnium, and Chappellet.  It's advisable to make your reservations in advance, especially during high season, rather than driving around and searching for a place to visit at the last minute.

Corison Winery, founded in 1987, is between Rutherford and St. Helena. It has three vineyards, all on gravelly loam, the soils that helped make Napa Valley famous.

During our tour and tasting at Corison, my wife and I were fortuitously the last reservation of the day: awesome! We had a library tasting of Cathy's Cabernet Sauvignon from 2019, 2018, 2017, and 1999. This gave us an idea of how these wines mature over 20+ years (very well). Cathy Corison was the head winemaker at Chappellet Winery through the 80s before venturing out on her own. Like many other wineries in Napa, the top wines are reserved for club members, and there are only about 200 cases per year in Corison's case. Her vines are over 50 years old, producing lower yields, high-quality, concentrated fruit, and not surprisingly, great wines.

As a bonus, she uses sustainable practices and is now certified organic.

Click on individual pictures to enlarge.

Steel tanks for production, Vineyard, Barrel Room, and also a great collection of wines

Somnium Winery

("Dream" in Latin) Danica Patrick (yes, that Danica Patrick) owns this winery. The difference with Danica is that she didn't just put her name on the bottle and move on. She is very much involved in the winery, and her staff is fantastic. The vineyard is small, about 24 acres on Howell Mountain, known for its volcanic soil. Her flagship wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Cab Franc. We have been members here for two years now and have no regrets. Our tasting started with 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016. I apologize for not getting enough pictures. Since 2019, Somnium has also been certified organic as well. Their lovely tasting room (see below) is located right on the main road in "downtown" Calistoga-by appointment only. Make sure you talk to Natalie, She is excellent!

Just finding Chappellet Winery is an experience unto itself. Be forewarned: the entrance is not marked! Our GPS took us to the boat dock across from the road. Once you see the dock, it's the road with the small sign for Pritchard Hill. This winery has a long history from 1967 when they built the large Winery/Barrel room. Over the years, they have made extensive upgrades, making it even more impressive in person. We made reservations for the Signature tasting, which features a tour and a tasting of some of their top wines. These were exceptional (The vintages we tried were from 2020, 2014, 2013, 2010, and 2009.) I have to say that this was the most amazing experience of the week. From the warm greetings from multiple people (despite our late arrival) to the introduction to our Ambassador Peter. He had two glasses of Chenin Blanc waiting for us, everything was perfect. We had a tour of the facilities, walked through the vineyards, and were escorted to a private table in the barrel room with heat from under the table (it is an aging room after all) - it was awesome! Our names were even printed on our menus, which was a great personal touch. Peter was kind, thoughtful, and filled with incredible knowledge. Pretty cool, right?" Peter pulling the latest signature vintage for us

This is just a tiny portion of the winery/ Barrel room

What a delightful experience.

To conclude, we visit Napa and Sonoma with a specific purpose. We usually plan our trip between January and February to avoid crowds and have a more personalized experience. However, weekends can be quite busy. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the wineries during our Sonoma visit, so I won't be including them. But, during our next visit in July (hot and crowded) for a Wine dinner at Hartford Family Winery, I will focus more on Sonoma and write an article about it specifically.


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