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.
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).
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.