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).
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.
Situated in the Railroad Square Historic District, Cellars of Sonoma's quaint storefront gives way to a warm, lofted interior where wines from nine boutique vintners flow. Single tastings or themed flights offer flavorful introductions to a selection of more than 60 bottles. As visitors sidle up to the carved wooden bar, they can sip crisp Pinot Noir with hints of cherry, or try a bright, clear Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of lime, banana, and honeysuckle.
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
Generating 26.5 kilowatts, the solar panels atop Stefano's Solar Powered Pizza convert the sun’s rays into delicious pizza, earning the eatery recognition a Bay Area Green Business. Inside, ovens house pizzas such as the chicken garlic veggie pie or the Mill Valley favorite, known for its pepperoni, mushrooms, italian sausage, and firm handshakes. Calzones and hot sandwiches are sprinkled throughout the menu alongside fresh romaine salads, slices of pesto cheese garlic bread, and sips of wine or draft beer. Stefano's Solar Powered Pizza also helps with fundraising for schools, sports teams, and community organizations.