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Wineries/Tasting Rooms that belong on another planet?

I've always been fascinated with wineries and tasting rooms that have their own little charm. I know in Sonoma there's a couple that resemble castles etc. But i want to go even more weird than that...

Does anyone know of anything?

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  1. It seems that tasting rooms at wineries seem to be the only places where people pay full retail price for wine. When I visit a friend in Paso Robles, we hit a lot of tasting rooms, but he always heads for the local supermarket after we finish to get the wines we liked at much lower prices.

    1. Hey there!

      Thanks for the comment although i'm not too sure you got the gist of the topic here! But no worries. I'm looking for some really weird/architecturally amazing wineries/tasting rooms that people have visited.


      1. Check out some of the lesser known wine regions. One winery that comes to mind is Dobra Zemlja in Amador county. Their tasting room is in their cave.


        1 Reply
        1. re: pamf

          Thanks Pam, this is great!

          I know that there are more trippy wineries out there... Alice in Wonderland-esque, that kind of things. Where the architecture is just out of this world. Its just a case of finding the buggers!

        2. If you are looking for statements of modern architecture, Stryker
          Sonoma in Alexander Valley and Andis Winery in Amador are quite
          distinctive. I assume you are aware of Sterling in Napa, which is accessible by gondolas. It has a great view of Napa Valley. In
          ElDorado, Mt Aukum Winery is at the top of a steep hill and
          is at 2615 ft. It has a great view but the access road is quite twisty and will give you a few frights along the way.

          Many wineries besides Dobra Demjla have wine caves, such as Bella in Dry Creek and Bella Grace in Amador

          1 Reply
          1. re: bclevy

            This is fantastic, thanks so much bclevy!

            I'm a club member at Bella, absolutely love it. I am drawn to their zinf's especially, which I suppose they are known for.

            Here are thee wineries that I found which had weird architectural associations with them; Amosa in Napa, Domecq in Alava and Ceretto's Brunate vineyard in Italy!

          2. Artesa, not out of this world, but worth looking into.

            1 Reply
            1. In Napa, Clos Pegase and Darrioush are rather bizarre architecturally speaking (you either love them or hate them). Del Dotto and Far Niente -- among MANY others -- have caves, while some of the oldest caves are to be found at Schramsberg and Beringer, as is the Rhine House.

              Of course St. George Spirits is inside of a former US Navy fighter jet hangar on the former site of NAS Alameda, and Periscope Cellars is in a former World War II submarine repair facility . . .

              11 Replies
              1. re: zin1953

                Okay, you got me a little bit excited on the St. George Spirits. These are all fantastic, I'm checking each and every single winery out as it comes in.

                I've been to Del Dotto, Dave Del Dotto funnily enough did our tasting. I thought the wine was pretty good although after about 28 barrel tastings in lost track of what I was drinking. He's a very generous person although it seems this is another one of the 'you either love it or hate it' deals.

                He gave me a plate full of cheese and smoked meats to take home for no other reason than I told him i was hungry and asked for a tour of the kitchen, haha!

                I took a picture with him at the very end of the day and we both look like vampires, our teeth are blood soaked red.

                1. re: AidySmith

                  Dave Del Dotto does (virtually) ALL the tastings. His modus operandi is to get the visitor drunk -- oh, I'm sorry; I meant have the visitor lose track of what he or she was drinking . . . I mean, tasting -- and get his credit card number in exchange.

                  1. re: zin1953

                    Haha, thats hilarious.. even so, bet they had a good time. What did you make of the wine?

                    1. re: AidySmith

                      Let's simply say, "Not my style," and leave it at that . . .

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Hehe, okay! I must say, although I do like a good barrel tasting now and again, for me personally, i like being able to look at the bottle and see it be opened interact with it. Wine Tasting is one big experience that goes well beyond just taking a sip of whats in a glass.

                        You utilize all of your senses and intrigue to get the most out of it. There's wine tasting... then there's the art of wine tasting.

                        Just my thoughts...

                        1. re: AidySmith

                          Barrel tastings do not tell you, the consumer, ANYTHING! It is the biggest "sleight-of-hand" in the wine trade. This is not to say it's "rigged," or that it's somehow fake, but the problem is that most consumers -- especially those who rarely if ever taste wine out of barrel (or tank) -- have no clue a) what they are in fact tasting, let alone b) what it actually means.

                          There is enough responsibility for this ________________ (insert epithet here) to go around. Consumers presume it means they are tasting the 2017 Cache Phloe Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon when, in fact, they are not. Winemakers/staff may even say, "This is the 2017 Cache Phloe Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon" when, in fact, it isn't. But it's certainly a convenient shorthand, isn't it?

                          The point is (and we'll continue to use the 2017 Cache Phloe Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as the example) that Cache Phloe Vineyards owns some of their own vineyards, including some Cabernet Sauvignon, and -- like most wineries in California, they also buy some grapes from various growers. And, like most wineries, they keep each vineyard -- and each day's harvest from each vineyard -- separate from each other. In addition (like most wineries), Cache Phloe Vineyards uses different barrels from different coopers (makers), of different origins (e.g.: Limousin, Tronçais, Allier, Oregon, West Cumberland, and a couple of Russian barrels), of different levels of toast (e.g.: light toast, medium, and some medium+; some with toasted heads, some not), and of different ages (some new, some 2nd use, some 3rd use, some 4th use, and some neutral).

                          The final wine -- the wine that goes into bottle and is sold by the winery -- not only is a blend of most (but rarely, if ever, all) of these different days, different vineyards, different barrels . . . but ALSO ends up containing 12 percent Merlot and 8 percent Cabernet Franc.

                          So that one barrel tasted by the consumer -- that one barrel which may or may not have been, in fact, used in the final blend -- CANNOT be representative of the final wine.

                          Can it?

                          1. re: zin1953

                            That was marvelous. I was totally engaged throughout and feel that I've walked away with some valuable knowledge here. Totally bite-size and easy to digest.

                            I completely understand you, its one component of the final product opposed to the final bottle blend. And 90% of the time this will be the "case" [see what I did there? ;)] (unless we're talking about a 100% Zin from a 300 year old vine etc. etc. here).

                            But yeh - thats so funny though because in a tourists mind, the more barrel the better. There's a premium price tag smacked onto barrel tasting like your walking away with something better.

                            1. re: AidySmith

                              AND . . . therefore . . . when a wine critic reviews barrel samples, it is . . . USELESS! ;^)

                              (This is why we never sent in barrel samples, despite repeated requests.)

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Do you write professionally or have your own blog?

                                1. re: AidySmith

                                  While I do not want to publish my CV here, I will say that I wrote (operative word, past tense) for several wine magazines, newspaper columns, and had my own radio show on wines in the Monterey Bay area of California.

                                  But I worked in the wine trade for some 40 years -- writing was always a sideline, and I never wrote about wines/projects I was involved with, unless it was a straight news story (i.e.: factual reportage, with no tasting notes or opinions voiced of any kind -- as in Domaine Jean Deaux won Best of Show at the State Fair, or Chateau Cache Phloe was the wine selected for the White House dinner . . . that sort of thing).

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Gotcha! :)

                                    Well i thoroughly enjoyed reading your above posts, seemed like you were a natural at it so i had to ask ;)

              2. Don't know if they're still doing it but Relic Wine Cellars' tasting is in a small airstream up in Spring Mountain, Napa.

                Quixote Winery, Napa- website may be undergoing change due to recent purchase of winery by Chinese owned firm.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ceekskat

                  Quixote, LOVE it. That's definitely an 'other worldly' winery right there. Thanks ceekskat :)

                2. Several years back when Gary Andrus still owned Archery Summit (in the Willamette Valley) I had the opportunity to not only tour the winery but also to have lunch in their caves. Their wine is a bit too "New World" for my taste, but their facility takes a back seat to no one's. Here's a description from their web site:

                  <Modeled after the subterranean cellars of the Côte d’Or, and hewn from the natural volcanic rock found beneath the estate, our underground caves provide ideal aging conditions for Pinot Noir. Naturally insulated and integral to our unique gravity-flow facility, cave temperatures prevail at 55°F to 59°F throughout the year, with a humidity level below 75%. Here, more than 500 French oak barrels of estate wines mature for up to 18 months, putting the finishing touches on each selection before being bottled.>