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.
Incorporating lifting, basic gymnastics, and cardio, CrossFit Absolute bolsters bodies with a broad fitness formula, used in high-intensity locales such as police academies and military special-operations units. Small-group classes contain four to eight participants who boost group mind as they fortify bodies for fitness with squats, sit-ups, push-ups, and heart-pumping pinky crunches. CrossFit promises universal scalability, meaning that loads and intensities of classes may be adjusted to accommodate anyone from a bench-pressing neophyte to a champion heavyweight capable of crushing a brick with a sneeze. CrossFit schedules its svelte-sessions all day Monday–Saturday.
Wind tousles the broad leaves of vines above clusters of grapes the off-black blue of the dusk sky. Frank and Liz Vezér, owners of Vezér Family Vineyard, originally began growing the fruit to help fill the needs of wine producers including Ravenswood and Sin Zin. More than a decade ago, they also began producing their own wines. “One could call it beginner’s luck,” says Touring and Tasting Magazine, “but their award-winning streak has yet to be broken. Every single wine Vezér has produced has won a top award or superior rating. Of most recent note, the 2007 Vezér Cabernet Sauvignon won double gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and a whopping 97 points at a blind tasting at Napa’s Bay Leaf Restaurant.”
The winery adjoins the original Pony Express offices, and one can still almost hear the sound of plodding hooves and hooves frustratedly trying to apply stamps. On a copper-roofed cupola, an equine weathervane twists to face the winds above a sweeping swath of grass that fills with chatter during weddings and other events.
Vezer Stock, the Vezér Family Vineyard's version of Woodstock, will be held at the Blue Victorian Winery on July 13th from 4p.m. to 10 p.m. Attendants are encourage to dress up in their most far out 1969 outfits while they enjoy tunes from the Used Blues Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Band, and Rick Harris & Silverado.
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.