It has been a few days since I was about to write because it’s July 5th and wine tour season in Napa and Sonoma is in high gear. We toured yesterday with a couple who lives in New York City, Soho actually, and it was a delightful, romantic day. Because it was the holiday, and the nature of the tour, Lahni and I guided it together. So it was two couples exploring wine country, and yes, we got paid for this! Of course, we didn’t drink any wine, although they did, quite happily.
The tour started at the Solage Hotel in Calistoga, that’s northern Napa, and then we headed over the mountains to northern Sonoma and the Russian River Valley. The ride through the mountains is beautiful with towering redwoods and great views of the St Helena Mountain that commands the northern part of the Napa Valley. We passed the Petrified Forest preserve, and then headed through the narrow, winding ways of Mark West, before arriving at River Road, and the Russian River Valley.
To start the day we went to De Loach, on Olivet Lane, and we had a great time. My favorite person there, Judi, so clearly a local, with that wonderful wit and hospitality, has an intimate knowledge of the regions vineyards and wines, and she thoroughly charmed our clients. Meanwhile Lahni, the social media Empress made friends with Carolynn, the wine club and social media manager. Well, there is very little the Lahni loves talking about more than social media and SEO, so they chatted like two old friends, while I walked around and took new photos to update their listing in the Sonoma Winery Tour iPhone App.
Places improve, and DeLoach has transformed the space in front of their tasting room into a lovely garden with some nicely shaded picnic tables, and a signature sculpture in the center. They had taken down the wall that enclosed their courtyard, opening it up to the breezes and sunlight. With the inclusion of some very comfortable chairs and tables it really improved the overall tasting experience. And they did all this without raising their prices. Cool!
From there we scooted over to Ironhorse Vineyards, and our friends enjoyed the outside tasting and the great views of the valley. They also loved the whole list of sparkling wines, and in fact brought some home with them. For lunch we headed up to Healdsburg, home of many great restaurants, but today was a day for a picnic. So we stopped in at the Oakville Market and picked up lunch (The curried chicken salad, on a bed of greens with slivered almonds is my favorite) and headed over to C. Donatiello.
Now here is a little navigation tip. This is a favorite winery of ours for many reasons. But I always seem to approach from the south via the long and winding Westside road. With a car full of people it always seems longer. But this time we back tracked from Ironhorse winery to Guerneville Road, back up Olivet Lane to River Road. Then headed towards Hwy 101, but cut the corner by turning left on Fulton, past Kendall Jackson onto 101 north. Very quickly we were at Oakville Grocery. To get to C. Donatiello we headed south Healdsburg Ave to Westside and quite quickly we were pulling up to that great property. Much easier!
Our friends loved the wines, and Chris Donatiello was there himself pouring and talking with folks. They tend to have a young, pretty team of girls manning the tasting bar who are tremendously knowledgeable about the wines, and wine tasting in general. Our clients talked about what a great time they had with person pouring all the way back (Next time I’m there I am going to thank her). Meanwhile, outside the band was starting up, they have live music every Sunday through the season, starting in the afternoon. While we were there a fair number of locals arrived and filled up the picnic area where we were, down by the pond, in the cooling shade of the redwoods.
After that we headed over the mountains and made one last stop at the Frank Family winery. That wonderful sparkling wine of theirs, so lush and rich tasting, was a wonderful way to finish the day. The fact that I could do the tour with Lahni at my side made the day all the more special. Happy Birthday USA!
Ralph & Lahni de Amicis are authors of the Amicis Winery Guides (Find them on Amazon), and owners of Amicis Tours. They are authors of over twenty books on health, design, business and travel. Their iPhone Apps, The Napa Valley Wine Tour, and The Sonoma Winery Tour are a tour guides approach to these beautiful area, complete with 1000’s of photos and insights. Their articles and products can be found on the sites http://www.amicistours.com and http://www.spaceandtime.com
Call 707-235-2648 for Tours, Books & Seminars Copyright Ralph & Lahni de Amicis 2013 All tasting fees, hours, wine lists, etc are subject to change.