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Aug 18, 2009 03:46 PM

Prettiest and most picturesque winery?

Hi. Relatives will be visiting in Sept. Though foodies, they are not really into wine. So we want to take them to the prettiest, most picturesque, winery in Wine Country.

Do people have any recommendations?


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  1. I have heard that Far Niente has the nicest grounds. Perhaps someone could chime in if they'd recommend it considering the $50 price tag for a tour and tasting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mari

      Far Niente is among the most beautiful wineries in America. It's my top choice for beauty: the grounds, the gardening, the old stone winery, the lake, the mindblowing vintage car collection. The wines are excellent across the board. Elegance, finesse, balance -- top flight.

      Here are some others that may be of interest:

      Nickel & Nickel -- lovely old barns, pastoral setting; excellent single-vineyard reds and whites. Sister winery of Far Niente.

      Spring Mountain Vineyards -- stunning. centered around the mansion called Miravalle, which was the Falcon Crest House. Beautiful grounds as well. Wonderful wines.

      Quixote -- designed by Viennese artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, wild

      Schramsberg -- beautiful country setting for this sparkling wine house, which makes some of the best bubbly in America. Stunning caves, just like a trip to France.
      Do not miss.

      Artesa -- modern, bermed into the hill, designed by Domingo Triay, OK wine

      Quixote -- designed by Viennese artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, wild

      Frog's Leap -- lovely, gracious, Victorian revival architecture, great people, good wine.

      Pride Mountain -- unbeatable view from the picnic area. Extremely good wines.

      Clos Pegase -- post-modern architecture by Michael Graves, so-so wines

      Trefethen -- beautiful older winery, on a large compound with a series of distinctive buildings (all a dusty rose color). Classy. Wonderful gardens and grounds. Superior wine.

      Hall Winery -- I'm referring to the second location up in the eastern hills above Rutherford, not the location on Highway 29. This is an amazing setting with a spectactular view, artwork, veranda, dining room (don't miss the chandelier). OK wines.

    2. Besides a 107 room castle does Castello di Amarosa have anything to recommend it?

      2 Replies
      1. re: wolfe

        Castello di Amarosa - ugh. Not at all pretty - IMO just plain dumb.

        1. re: Mariana in Baja

          <<Besides a 107 room castle does Castello di Amarosa have anything to recommend it?>>

          No. It's a steep ticket for the fake castle: $25 weekdays, $35 on weekends. The wines are probably the worst wines I've ever had at a winery.

      2. My three favorites are:

        Hartford Family Winery,
        Lynmar Winery, and
        Arista Winery

        These are all in Sonoma (or thereabouts). I don't think there is anything "pretty" in Napa.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Paul H

          Do you mean "artesa" or "Arista"? Artesa is stunning; wines-hit and miss. It's across the hiway from domaine carneros (also very pretty) and near the DiRosa preserve, an amazing art destination. adam

          1. re: adamshoe

            Arista. The Japanese garden is really special.

            1. re: adamshoe

              i agree that Artesa is a gorgeous spot, and not typical of the other wineries, design-wise. I used to like their Pinots very much . . .

            2. re: Paul H

              Sonoma is fine too (anywhere in Wine country). I will keep an eye on reports, and soon start planning my visit(s). I will report in mid September or so, after my visit(s).

              Thanks to everyone for their recs (keep them coming!)

              1. re: D Hound

                Since wine isn't your primary goal here, you might consider Jordan in Healdsburg. I think you can tour by appointment. It's basically a French chateau perched on the top of the hill overlooking the valley. Stunning views.

            3. If they are art lovers, Clos Pegase has an amazing collection of art in the winery and also scultpures in the vineyard. The caves are amazing and the owner, jan shrem, is a serious art collector. Last I knew, tours were free.

              A friend who lives in the area (she's a sommelier) was married at Quintessa and I heard it is just gorgeous. I have never been myself though. According to their website, tours are by appointment only and tastings are $45.

              1. My usual tourist guide routine would include one of the following.

                -- Buena Vista in Sonoma, as the oldest winery in the state, has a charmingly antique look to it. It's in a very pretty setting, right outside the the wonderful historic town of Sonoma. Roaming around town makes for a bonus side trip.

                -- Benziger Family winery in Glen Ellen gives tram tours of the vinyards and explanations of their green farming philosophy. Folks with an agricultural interest will like this. Just up the road is the historic Jack London park, for a bonus side excursion.

                -- Sterling Vinyards at Calistoga is an ultra mod facility scenically planted on top of a hill. The main attraction is riding in the arial tram swinging over the picturesque Napa Valley carrying you up to the winery. Calistoga makes a nice side trip, and you may want to enjoy one of their hot springs spa offerings.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Sharuf

                  It's hard to beat Buena Vista. It's lovely and a place of real history rather than a contrived tourist attraction. Plus Sonoma Valley is not as wildly overrun with tourists as Napa Valley.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I third Buena Vista. Maybe not so much pretty as charming and what one would expect a real winery to be rather than the pre-fab touristy feel of so many places.