Good Wines + Fantastic Grounds
- The Dive Sep 28, 2007 05:11 PM
Okay, I'm not a "grounds" person. I'm not a big producer person. And I'm not really a Napa person. But I need to take a group of six to some wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valley (not Dry Creek/Russian River/Etc. -- I have that covered) for a couple of days, one of whom is not a wine-drinker, but is a garden-lover. What places sacrifice the quality of the wines the least in the pursuit of those perfect grounds?
Stags' Leap Winery (not to be confused with Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, which I've never been to, so cannot comment) has beautiful grounds, but they only book private tastings. They're only allowed to have 50 visitors per week or something like that, so you should call and see if you can snag a reservation. Their Manor House (where they do the tastings) is historic and gorgeous.
Chateau Montelena in calistoga has the most lovely gardens... and very nice wines; make an appointment in advance.
Second Matanzas Creek on Bennet Valley Road. We have had three or four picnics there, often with a bottle of their sauvignon blanc. Sometimes there are fawn grazing on the grounds, and the lavendar fields are pretty serious. It is usually really hot in summer (still can't resist a Fourth of July picnic there), but if you're visiting now or in winter, that won't be an issue. Also Armida on Westside Road (which is full of tiny, wonderful wineries) has lovely views.
Bartholomew Park in Sonoma ("Bart Park") is one of the most beautiful spots in the entire region. Their wine, sold only at the winery, is quite good. The view is lovely, and their are picnic tables available. This place is not to be missed.
In the Russian River area, the view from the picture window in the Gary Farrell tasting room (which is at a high elevation, over the Valley) is magnificent. It is a boutique pinot house with a great reputation. Nearby, Hop Kiln is a historic property on a lovely spot, as well.
Frog's Leap, in Napa, will tour their organic gardens after a tasting of terrific wines, all biodynamic and organic.
There is NO garden in the area to match Ferrari-Carano in Sonoma. You may feel you are in Versailles, as you walk through these gardens, next to a gorgeous winery with a beautiful view of the Valley behind it. Some of their wines are medal-winners.