Diners seated in what used to be the Frasinetti's east cellar sate themselves on handcrafted Italian lunch and dinner dishes, surrounded by huge vats evoking the 112-year-old winery’s storied past. Dinners commence with starters such as crostini slathered in grilled brie and red-pepper chutney ($10) or steamed clams in white-wine sauce ($9). Next, certified non-android servers bring out entrees such as seafood manicotti, a mix of salmon, scallops, and crab packed in pasta ($15). Pine-nut-gorgonzola butter adds a zesty twist to the 12-ounce center-cut prime rib ($25), and the regal Atlantic salmon rests on a bed of mushroom risotto ($19), like an eccentric rice baron.
The Scribner family has been a fixture of the Sacramento River Delta since 1893, when George Washington Scribner settled along the river bend that would eventually bear his name. Five generations since the fertile soil first beckoned the patriarch, the family is still putting the original barn to good use—now as a tasting room where the Scribners' award-winning wines get the attention and ambiance they deserve. The family’s alluring adult beverages reach their palate-pleasing potential thanks to the expertise of 50-year winemaker William Ghiglieri, who helps the Scribners maintain their century-old legacy. Visitors can rent out the vineyard for private events, lending a convivial elegance to such get-togethers as corporate parties, bridal showers, or pet goldfish funerals.
Woodbridge Winery's tastings and tours enroll ordinary laymen in a day course that unleashes the close-kept secrets of liquefied grapes. Tipplers start off in the Woodbridge tasting room, where they can sample a rotating quartet of wines typically not available in stores as smiling sommeliers guide untutored taste buds around every flavor note. After a boxed lunch of sandwiches and chips, curious quaffers follow experienced vine wranglers on a one-hour tour of the winery grounds. Like a peek behind the curtain of a magician’s workshop or a trip into the depths of a Wonkaian lollipop mine, the visit includes a look at the pressing operation and the red barrel-aging room.
Boasting a bevy of organic wines within its solar-powered vineyard, The Lucas Winery welcomes wine enthusiasts to train their palates with taste-toning sips of chardonnay, zinfandel, cabernet, and rosé. Over the course of the 45-minute tasting, guests will swirl glasses, waft wine, and elegantly tipple a minimum of five sippables (a $10 value per person).
The Sierra Nevada Mountains don’t just make for beautiful vistas—their lower slopes also play host to some of the region’s best grapes. Winery by the Creek and Charles B. Mitchell Vineyards, nestled in the foothills, harvests the vines and transforms them into nuanced, award winning varietals, such as Black Muscat. The winery plays host to a slew of other regional wines as well, including Splashdown’s Zinfandels and Charles B. Mitchell’s award-winning grand reserve. As Dionysian evangelists, the winery’s staff hosts tasting events, many of which are held on the patio by the creek that overlooks the mountains. For a peek behind the scenes, you can spelunk into the onsite wine cave where the wines are aged. There, you can sip their way through candle-lit futures tastings, sampling up-and-coming wines right from the barrel.
An enormous redwood wine tank stands at the heart of Oak Ridge Winery. At one point it held 50,000 gallons of zinfandel, but these days the barrel echoes with laughter and clinking wine glasses. Inside, at a red-brick bar top, winemaker Rudy Maggio and his partners Don and Rocky Reynolds introduce customers to the flavors in their hand-crafted wines.
To craft their specialties, the trio carefully tends aisles of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc grapes. However, they take particular pride in their 120-year-old zinfandel vines, which have gnarled, weatherworn features and no patience for kids these days. The wines of these grapes—including Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel and OZV—consistently take medals at international wine competitions.