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Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards - Top 5 Reasons to Visit

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If your Napa Valley travels have yet to include a visit to Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards in St. Helena, then see our top 5 reasons for making this winery part your Napa tour and wine tasting itinerary.

1. Beautiful Vineyard Views. Relax with a glass of wine outside and breathe in the beauty that surrounds you.

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2. Friendly, Fun and Knowledgeable Wine Staff. Josh happens to be our favorite and you can SEE why, but we hear great things about Dawn too!

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A Winemaking Stroll Down Bennett Lane

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By Robert P. Farmer

bennettLaneWinery3.jpgAlthough it was the birthplace of Wine Country as we know it today, Calistoga is often overlooked among the visiting public. Or, more accurately, it's not overlooked so much as it is not quite reached. Snuggled into the northernmost region of the Napa Valley, Calistoga frequently proves just a bit too far up along the lengthy, easily sidetracked winery trail of the Valley. Too bad. Because some of Napa's true gems await the tenacious traveler with the stamina - or planning foresight - to alight upon Calistoga.

One such gem is Bennett Lane, situated near the edge of the Mayacamas Mountains. Bennett Lane is not one of the household names associated with Napa Valley, but the still-young winery has quickly garnered a reputation as serious producer - earning especially high recognition for its cabernet sauvignon and for its tasty everyday varietal appropriately called Maximus. The vision of owners Randy and Lisa Lynch, Bennett Lane typifies the potential for high-caliber cab grown in the northern stretches of the valley - where warm summer sun and volcanic soil give the fruit a compelling intensity. Bennett Lane's winemaker, Grant Hermann, grew up in the area and learned at an early age the importance of sourcing local fruit and attention to detail when aiming for the sort of quality that he has achieved at Bennett Lane. His efforts have not gone unnoticed. In less than half a decade, more than a dozen Bennett Lane wines have earned 90-point scores from Wine Spectator, and the publication has twice given the Maximus Vintage its "outstanding value" recognition.

At the Calistoga Wine Stop

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calistogaWineStop.jpgCALISTOGA, CA - At Calistoga Wine Stop, you aren't just another wine taster among a sea of others. Here, you receive personalized wine service and recommendations. Need a wine pairing suggestion for dinner tonight? Want a wine for everyday consumption? Not sure what wine to get for a special occasion? Whatever your wine needs - Calistoga Wine Shop has you covered!

The Pelter family has owned this shop for over 20 years; they have worked in the wine industry and have a wealth of knowledge to share with you. Through personal relationships, Tom and Tammy Pelter have sought out wines you most likely could not book a tasting with at the winery,  let alone find on grocery store shelves. These hand-selected wines from Napa and Sonoma producers off the beaten path with limited production are something special.

Wine Tasting in Calistoga, CA

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All "four" one and one "four" all. We've got four winery recommendation stops for your wine tasting itinerary in Calistoga! All boast gorgeous views and grounds, some really good wines, and will make for one memorable visit to Napa Valley Wine Country.

bennettLaneWinery2.jpgBennett Lane Winery
If you haven't heard of or tried Maximus, here's your chance to. Bennett Lane made a splash on the wine scene a few years back with this varietal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Not only does it taste great, it's priced at only $35 a bottle - quite a steal! Stop by their tasting room for a taste and glimpse into the world of wine-making. Tasting fees are only $10 per person.  Bennett Lane also offers offer a more hands-on experience with their "Varietals Fruit Flavor" program where one you learn will learn in more depth the wine-making process, an aromatics lesson, and a custom blending session. See the site for more details.

castelloDiAmorosa.jpgCastello di Amorosa
It's become one of the most popular attractions in the valley. One is sure to fall in love with this 13th century Tuscan style castle with the "romance of Italy and the wines of Napa". Guests and visitors agree - a tour is not to be missed. They include a tour led by a Castle guide, a barrel tasting, and complimentary tasting of current releases and range from $31 - $41/per person. Tastings alone range from $16 to $26 per person. Advance reservations are highly encouraged as the winery can get quite crowded throughout the day. And who wouldn't want to attend a party, gala, or other festivities at such an amazing winery. Be sure to check out their calendar for events held year round.

History & Hospitality High Notes: Silverado Vineyards

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silveradovineyards.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Silverado Vineyards is akin to a fine racehorse that's been groomed for performance since arriving in this world:  Not only is the precedent-setting winery still turning heads after more than 25 years on the Napa wine scene, it's staying ahead of the pack with a host of hospitality and sustainability initiatives that honor both its storied past and promising future.

Heritage High Marks
In "The Silverado Squatters" (1880), famed Scottish scribe Robert Louis Stevenson notes that "the beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also 'prospects,'" an apt observation given the valley's storied past as a mining community.  As Wine Country readers well know, vinous pursuits - rather than mining - are the main event today in Napa, a detail that's abundantly clear at Silverado Vineyards' beautifully articulated hilltop winery and hospitality center.

Napa Itinerary: Napa Adjacent

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domainetat.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

When staying in Napa, consider visiting these nearby wineries that are easily accessible to day-trippers.  Whether located within city limits or in the hills and winding canyons just further afield, they make great options for those looking to remain down-valley during their Wine Country stay.  

Napa Itinerary: Silverado Trail South

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blackstallion.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

When staying in Napa proper - an excellent jumping-off point for exploring the valley, not to mention a city booming with activity thanks to a host of recent improvements - it's easy to explore nearby wineries on the Silverado Trail.   Four of our fav Trail producers located just outside the city are detailed below - so you can quickly plan your trip and make the most of your Wine Country time.  

Yountville Tasting Itinerary

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By Courtney Cochran

bubbly.jpgYountville has never been hotter, and - fittingly - visitors to this popular Wine Country hamlet have never had better options when it comes to things to do. In this spirit, read on for a wine tasting itinerary starring four of the town's top vinous haunts; we're sure you'll find plenty more reasons to call this a hot spot once you've tasted its best in red, white and bubbly.

Yountville: Taste In Town

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wineTasting.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

You'll be hard pressed to find a cuter - or more gastronomically gifted - town than Yountville. With its myriad hotels, spas, restaurants and retail shops right within a several-block radius, it's a self-contained Wine Country hamlet literally tailor-made for tourism. Now, with the addition of Maisonry, Yountville packs more appeal than ever before.

St. Helena Wine Tasting Itinerary

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DSC02806, Beringer Vineyards, Napa Valley, Cal...

Image by jimg944 via Flickr

By Courtney Cochran

ST.HELENA, CA - Wine may be what brings us to wine country, but it's not the only show going on when it comes to things to do amongst the vines.  Read on for an itinerary focused on activities in and around St. Helena that promise more than your average swirling and sipping experience - one we're sure you'll remember long after the day's done.

History Lesson: Beringer 
Start you day north of St. Helena at Napa Valley's oldest continuously operating winery, Beringer.  Designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, the 19th Century Rhine House (fashioned after the family's impressive old German home at Mainz-on-the-Rhine, natch) encompasses the tasting room and is a marvel of ornate Victorian architecture.  Choose from one of three tours (30 minutes to 90 minutes in length, including a family tour) to learn about the spot's vibrant winemaking history, or explore the estate's beautifully landscaped grounds on your own with a glass of wine in hand.
(707) 963-4812 * 2000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574
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2 for 1 Wine Tasting Offers

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Wine and cheese tasting @ Strewn Winery

Image by Vincent Ma via Flickr

NAPA VALLEY, CA - The cost of wine tasting in Napa Valley can easily add up if you're not careful. Before you know it, you've gone to 3 wineries and may have spent close to $80 if not more for one couple. Those tasting fees don't include purchasing any of the fabulous wine you've been tasting either.

So, be a smart Napa Valley wine taster this year. See the list of wineries below who offer 2 for 1 wine tasting offers year-round. Print and present to tasting room staff on your next visit to their winery.

Need to find out where all of these wineries are located? Use our handy Napa Valley printable map to plot your wine tasting course!
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Wine Country Itinerary: Yountville

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By Robert Farmer

It is arguably the most power packed handful of square miles in California's Wine Country. Yountville: a tiny town along Hwy. 29, can be driven through in a matter of a couple minutes. But at a more leisurely pace, it can take a week to soak it all in. What a week that would be--filled with hours of wine tasting, spa time, and long casual dinners in some of the nation's best restaurants.

Yountville is home to several charming inns and a few world-class resorts. It boasts six Michelin stars among its dozen or so globally famous restaurants. And it's all contained within a few blocks radius. Yet in spite of its highly charged wine-and-dine reputation, Yountville manages to retain its slow-paced rural charm--never feeling too far from the roots that were planted in 1855, when George Calvert Yount laid out the city's plan and put the first grapes in the ground.

So it's not surprising that while many visitors are drawn to Yountville because it is home to Thomas Keller's French Laundry and his more casual Bouchon, still as many arrive to take in the joie de vivre of Wine Country as it can only be found in a town chock full of shops, boutiques and purveyors of the good life.

The town is in the throes of a master plan improvement, which will ultimately add a series of new hotels, spas, and of course restaurants--effectively jamming even more into its already packed four square-mile radius. And through December, the city and its surroundings come aglow during its 20th annual Festival of Lights, a series of celebrations and holiday-themed events.

Wine Country Itinerary: Calistoga

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By Robert P. Farmer

Part geological wonder, part destination to for the good life, Calistoga is one of the most popular regions of California's Wine Country. It first built up steam as a destination in the 1880s, when travelers made their way to the northern end of the Napa Valley to soak in the warm, sulfuric waters of the many area hot springs. In its later life, visitors grew fonder of the excellent cabernets and chardonnays being produced in the region. Today's Calistoga combines the best of all worlds, and throws in for good measure a great collection of excellent resorts and restaurants.

For a classic therapeutic experience, visit Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort, or Indian Springs Resort & Spa. Notable luxury resorts include the beautiful and secluded Calistoga Ranch, and the chicly appointed Solage Resort & Spa. When hunger strikes, check out the ever-inventive Wappo Bar & Bistro, or the dependable comfort of Brannan's Grill.

Most Calistoga wineries offer tours, many are lengthy, informational tours well worth carving out an afternoon for. Prices for the tastings vary, but are typically between $5 and $15.

Wine Country Itinerary - Stags Leap

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By Robert P. Farmer

NAPA VALLEY, CA - In a Valley that is home to many famous regions, Stags Leap jumps out. Located near the eastern center of Napa Valley, the Stags Leap district is bisected by the Silverado Trail. Among Napa Valley's great regions for Cabernet, Stags Leap is known for wineries that produce cabs with a heralded reputation--famously described as an "iron fist in a velvet glove." The cabs are given their strength and subtlety from the volcanic soil, the moderate climate, and by the able hand of the many vintners who produce wines here. Local lore has it that the region is named for a horse that leapt across the craggy palisades to escape pursuing hunters. You will no doubt find much easier going on your hunt for fine wines.

Napa Valley Wine Tasting Itinerary

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napaItinerary.jpgHave friends visiting and need a tried and true Napa Valley wine tasting itinerary?  Don't spend hours researching online or connecting dots on the map. Download the trip below and let the fun begin!

Stop 1 - Alpha Omega
It's fitting that this is the first wine tasting stop on the itinerary given its name.  Alpha Omega makes some really good wines. Of particular note is the Proprietary Red which has the smooth yet complexity of a slightly aged Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chardonnay is light and refreshing for any white's fans. Their Late Harvest is just plain delicious, but they are currently out of stock!  After tasting, go around back (or front depending on your internal gps) and revel in the gorgeous view of their pool with sprawling vineyards as backdrop.
Tasting Room: 1155 Mee Ln St Helena Hwy; Open daily 11 am - 6pm
Tasting Fees: $10/person

Wine Tasting Itinerary: Carneros

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carneros.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

CARNEROS, CA - The Carneros American Viticultural Area (AVA) - also referred to as Los Carneros AVA - offers a cool microclimate ideally suited to Pinot Noir and sparkling wine production and a surprisingly mellow vibe when compared to Nor Cal's wine country's more highly trafficked areas. The only AVA to straddle both Napa and Sonoma counties, Carneros is cooled by marine breezes from the nearby San Pablo Bay and counts more than three dozen wineries among its bucolic rolling hills. And since it's an easy commute from San Francisco - travelers can be tasting within an hour of leaving the foggy city - Carneros is an ideal destination for day trippers.

The Merlot Lovers Tour of Napa Valley

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Though Cab may reign supreme in Napa these days, Merlot has always been a member of the royal family--though somewhat in exile these days. But tastes are a fickle thing, and those who know the true beauty of a silky, carefully crafted Merlot aren't slaves to fashion, or the whims of Hollywood.

For those who remain true to great Napa Merlots, this is a wonderful time to taste the grape that steadfastly refuses to slink away quietly while others have their moment in the sun. In fact, 2002, according to published reports was one of the best years ever for Napa Merlot, with several top wines receiving stellar scores and launching a quiet renaissance of this noble grape.

Take a special varietal-inspired tour of Napa's best Merlot producers, located primarily along the Silverado Trail, but dipping into Rutherford, as well.

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