The owners of Harvest Wine Tours have visited more than 150 wineries and chosen their favorites to introduce to visitors and locals alike. To make vineyard-hopping a seamless process, they design flexible self-guided tours, each of which outline the grand, lesser-known, and small boutique wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Each guide includes a map and detailed explanation for each winery’s selection that covers quality, ambiance, and special services, as well as a suggested order for visits.
In addition to the standard tour, Harvest Wine Tours also offers a VIP experience, during which two of the chosen wineries welcome visitors with perks that can include double tastings, reserve or library wine tastings, or a special tasting in the barrel room. The staff also designs custom tours from a questionnaire, where customers can describe their preferred grape varietals and the importance of a good, strong jawline on a winemaker.
With more than 15 years in business, FastFrame’s Napa Valley location helps enhance fond memories with a variety of framing and photo-related services. Bring in prints or negatives from your backpacking trip through high school and have the photos conveniently imprisoned on CD ($10) or DVD ($15) or reproduce reminiscences sized from 4"x6" to 18"x24" ($5–$44) with photo-printing services. Restoration services ($10–$98) will reverse the age of old photos, repair damage to records, and add bright hues to images that predate the invention of color. Napa Valley FastFrame’s fine custom and ready-made framery (prices vary widely) is available to encase an abundance of items, including pictures, instruments, and 13-foot anaconda skins. Owner and certified picture framer Fred Cooper and his expert framers are happy to guide clients through copious selections of inspired custom framing that follows decorative and classical designs.
Napa Valley is California's epicenter of wine, and there's a definite local pride in all things grape. Signs posted along roads urge drivers to stop, taste, and experience private-label wines. The culinary scene has also risen to prominence, with chefs like Thomas Keller spearheading a haute-cuisine movement. Though hundreds of thousands of people visit each year, Napa still cultivates a small-town feel. There are a handful of big-name restaurants in downtown Napa that might have limos parked out front, but there are still plenty of eclectic, hole-in-the wall eateries serving vegan fare or barbecue.
With the number of wine shops and tasting rooms in the historic Sonoma Plaza, it's easy to become overwhelmed. That's where Sonoma on the Spot comes in. After determining your wine and tour preferences, the company will design a personalized roster of tastings and tour stops that highlight Sonoma County's best wines while veering toward the varietals you like best. Tours are led by wine educators from the Carneros Wine Alliance who maintain personal relationships with many of the Plaza's wine rooms, a perk that helps their customers snag special tastings and other extras that might not usually be extended to the public. Of course, no tasting would be complete without a bite to eat—each experience includes a complementary chocolate or cheese pairing.
Ramekins offers cooking classes from award-winning chefs in a beautiful, European-style villa in the heart of wine country. During each three-hour cooking class, up to 12 fledgling gourmands prepare and eat a multicourse meal under the careful tutelage of a crack team of expert chefs using essential culinary techniques, such as meat seasoning, soup simmering, and chopping thrown tomatoes cleanly in twain.