WineCountry Staff: November 2007 Archives

Top Wineries for Extra-Tasting Activities

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These spots serve up unique alternatives to the typical tasting experience.

by Courtney Cochran

Why just sniff and swirl when you can stomp, tour, and take in some art, too? In an effort to offer visitors more than the run-of-the-mill tasting room experience, many wineries are serving up unique alternatives. Read on for the details on how you can take a high-altitude jeep tour, commandeer your very own bocce ball court, or even stomp some grapes during crush.

Because cookie cutter visits are so last year.

Dry Creek: The Zin Tour

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The Dry Creek Appellation of Sonoma County, California produces outstanding Zinfandel worth seeking out. Take a tour of some regional favorites from this picturesque Northern California wine growing region.

If any grape could truly be called Californian, it is the bold and wily Zinfandel. Though its roots harken back to sunny Italy (say most, though its heritage remains a bit murky), Zinfandel has become synonymous with the bright, fruit-forward, come-as-you-are attitude of many California wines.

The How-To Harvest

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Harvest Tales - Part 2

by Robert P. Farmer

It's easy enough to feel like you're part of the wine country harvest simply visiting in the fall. But there are ways to truly be part of the action. Short of pulling up stakes and moving here, you can act like a local by getting involved with one of the many programs designed by wineries to make guests feel right at home. These events and programs don't only take place during harvest, but there's no better time to take advantage.

There are a number of excellent behind-the-scenes programs at wineries throughout wine country and in all of California's various wine regions. They range from full-fledged, yearlong grow-your-own courses to afternoon-length grape stomps. The programs are fun, educational ways to get to know wines first hand.

The Time is Ripe

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There's No Time Like Crush in Wine Country

by Robert P. Farmer

For my money, there's no better time to be in wine country than during harvest. The crush. That's what the locals call it. It's the time of year that the grape growers turn their crop into cash. It's an important time for them. And for the average visitor, it should be just as important - and no less busy, if you want it to be. The trick is to know what to do with your harvest time visit. You can spend day after day traversing the countryside, watching the colors change, and taking in chest-filling breaths of the crisp fall air and not really have any idea of what is really going on at harvest time. Wineries love this time of year and you should too.

Miles and Ryan MacDonnell

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Round Pond Estate

With the unveiling of a beautiful new winery and tasting room this past summer, Round Pond Estate took another step in establishing itself as one of Napa Valley's great young wineries. Guided by the dynamic brother and sister team of Miles and Ryan MacDonnell, Round Pond is a small, family-owned and operated winery located in the heart of the Rutherford winegrowing region. And though the MacDonnell siblings only released their inaugural 2002 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon a few years back, they are far from being the new kids on the block. In fact, Miles and Ryan grew up playing amongst the very same vine rows, where they grow the grapes for their sought-after wines.

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