In 1955, Dominick Chirichillo’s grandfather began teaching him the family pastime: winemaking. They worked on a wine press in the basement of his New York home, transforming bunches of grapes into nuanced reds and whites. Quickly finding that the hobby of his ancestors was his passion, Dominick entered his creations in amateur competitions around the East Coast. When he felt confident enough to open up his own winery, he moved to northern California, lured by the prospect of living and working right next door to the vineyards that grew his grapes. His winery—named Domenico to honor his Italian heritage—now produces boutique wines that have won more than 300 awards for their rich, complex palates and excellent scores in the swimsuit competition. Some varieties are made in batches of only 100 or 200 cases, allowing his staff to innovate fearlessly. Locals often drop by the winery’s spacious tasting room to sample these limited-edition flavors. Outfitted with a 24-foot mahogany bar and sweeping drapes, the tasting room recalls an elegant Tuscan café, complete with impeccable hospitality. The staff eagerly shares the undertones and flavors of every pour, suggesting potential food pairings or the best glass of red to throw at an offensive suitor.
Within the Winery Collective's multi-winery tasting room, grape savants uncork the flavorful nuances of liquid harvests hailing from more than 2 dozen of California's boutique wineries from Santa Barbara to Napa Valley. Winemakers and enthusiasts guide palates through wine-flight menus, which are culled from the more than 100 vinos that line the tasting room's walls and, like the political views of a housecat, change daily. The Winery Collective also hosts private and semiprivate parties and corporate events, during which guests mingle and sip in a lofted earth-toned lounge outfitted with crisscrossing wooden shelves that display colorful wine bottles and shapely decanters.
There's nothing quite like a bicycle ride over rolling hillsides for shaking up the doldrums of daily idling. The shuttle bus will pick up bikeseekers between 8 and 9 a.m. and head across the Golden Gate Bridge toward wine country. Upon arrival, the guided bike ride begins, and you'll hop from winery to winery like a king on a checkerboard. All the tour guides are trained sommeliers with craniums filled with wine knowledge—and possibly wine. Sample varietals aperitifs along the course of the journey and stop for a delightful picnic lunch among the vineyards. The shuttle bus will follow along to carry anything purchased at the wineries or to assist thoroughly tuckered trekkers. Daytrippers are returned to the city by 7 p.m., in time to share the sunset with a lucky loved one—a girlfriend, a husband, a bottle of wine wearing a wig, etc. Purchase up to four of today's deal and invite friends, family, or a group of beloved strangers to join the journey. If you want to bring a friend along who doesn't possess a Groupon, that person will get 20% off the tour.
Though wine has been made for centuries, a lot has changed since the early days. Now, additives and preservatives are blended into many wines, often affecting the taste and smell along the way. Fortunately, that’s not the way they do things at Fat Grape Winery. There, all wines are made the old-fashioned way. Helmed by winemaker Patrick Bowen, the winery creates more than a dozen wines—each made from Californian grapes—at their facility on Treasure Island's old Navy Brig. There, visitors can stop by to sample any of the wines—which they even have fresh on tap— or purchase bottles to take home.
Founded in 2007 by 12 regional wineries, Lake County Winery Association is a nonprofit organization that strives to serve and promote the wineries that make their home upon mountainous rural land. Lake County has produced award-winning wines from grapes grown at high elevations around the foot of Mount Konocti and Clear Lake, California's largest freshwater lake. Today, Lake County Winery Association serves more than 50 vintners, who are committed to preserving the region's natural landscapes and communities of hyperintelligent mice through sustainable farming and production processes.