Dominic Foppoli and Whitney Opperman first crossed paths in a vineyard, becoming friends after learning they each had a family history of winemaking. Their love of fermented grapes eventually sparked the idea of crafting a new line of wines that would satisfy their own standards, those of their family, and those of their friends. By combining the centuries of winemaking knowledge passed down through their families, Dominic and Whitney crafted a collection of zinfandels, pinot noirs, and bordeaux varietals that live up to those standards. While zinfandels are their main production, Dom Whitney Wines also produces a limited amount of pinot grigio.
Vine Tastings ripens appetites with a full menu of boutique Sonoma County wines and small appetizer plates for pairing and singular enjoyment. The friendly wine bar carries anywhere from eight to 10 different vino vintages from small local wineries, available by the flight, glass, or bottle. Guests can sip, swish, or slam dunk a variety of inebriating grape derivatives, such as the Branham 2007 chardonnay from Russian River Valley ($8 per glass), the Deux Amis 2007 pinot noir from Donnelly Creek Vineyards and Anderson Valley ($7 per glass), and the Et Cetera 2008 Sonoma County merlot ($6 per glass), or choose any three 2-ounce tastings for $10. Pair tipples with delicious charcuterie plates, or cheeses.
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.
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.
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).
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