A restored Queen Anne structure in Sonoma wine country, Grape Leaf Inn won NBC11's award for best area bed and breakfast for two consecutive years. Six available guestrooms await visitors, each equipped with a king or queen bed. A bottle of old-vine zinfandel (a $37.50 value), recently liberated from its oaken prison, regales sippers with tales of life on the inside. Downstairs, the speakeasy offers complimentary vine-blood samplings that awaken the unexplainable urge for more, as well as an intimate setting for romantic paper-football games. Excellent breakfasts of local produce and freshly roasted coffee also await visitors. Wineries available for tastings vary based on date of stay.
For over 50 years, Windsor Vineyards has been producing award-winning wines for every occasion. In keeping with its tradition of personally hand-writing custom labels on their wines, today, customers are invited to add their own special message or greeting. Wine clubs grant customers a vine-sourced passport to a world of varietals, shipping bottles throughout the year.
The inspiration behind thumbprint cellars' namesake was a happy accident, albeit a messy one. In his college years, Scott Lindstrom-Dake would bottle his own vintages in his garage and sign them with a pen that his wife and business partner, Erica, bought him. The pen began to leak one night, and in his attempts to stem the flow of golden ink down a bottle, Scott left a thumbprint on its surface. Now more than 20 of the winery’s products showcase the print in a rainbow of colors, recalling the work of Andy Warhol during his short-lived career in criminal justice. At the downtown tasting bar, patrons sidle up to the sine-wave bar for pours of those vintages, pairing them with bites of local cheeses and meats.
Named for the iconic director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery gratifies grape groupies with a wide array of virtuosic vinos. Pirouette your way into the Bottling Ballet Mechanique tour for a chance to examine the winery’s bottling process, which is exactly the same process used to bottle model ships. From the huge barrels of grape soup in which wines are born to the priceless glass containers into which they’re packaged, the 45-minute tour—which takes its name from the way each bottle shimmies and pirouettes down the line—gives guests the chance to see and more fully comprehend how wine comes to take its uniformly bottle-like shape. Visitors also learn the back-stories behind the winery’s labels and take part in a palate-expanding tasting, completing the beautiful circle of libationary life.
Along a winding country road, up an unpaved drive and past Gus a big, friendly, chocolate lab, you’ll find one of the most unpretentious, down-to-earth tasting rooms around. The Pope Valley, one of Napa’s hidden treasures, is home to the Pope Valley Winery. Here you will be treated less like a visitor and more like a friend
Wildflower-filled vases adorn hardwood tables within Savour St. Helena's rouge-tinted tasting room, where servers dish out hard-to-find vinos culled from small wineries. The wine-tasting experience challenges pairs of budding sommeliers to identify subtle floral notes and passive-aggressive tendencies in four samples of premium vino. Tasters also munch muffuletta sandwiches stuffed with capicola and salami before redeeming their $15 credit for bottled vintages such as Areté Wines 2010 sauvignon blanc ($22) or a Houdini 2007 merlot ($32).