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Napa, CA

 

Navigating Napa

Fodor’s Northern California, 14th edition

CALIFORNIA makes 90 per cent of all American wine and its best-known region is the Napa Valley, starting in the town of Napa about 75 kilometres northeast of San Francisco. The 14th edition of Fodor’s Northern California has eight pages on wine tasting in Napa (and neighbouring Sonoma) valley, full of useful tips and recommendations.

Because Napa has become so well-known a brand, its wineries are among the nation’s most-visited, and owners have gone to considerable trouble in many cases to make the experience memorable—and profitable. “In the past few years,” the guidebook notes, “tasting fees have skyrocketed. Most Napa wineries charge $25 or $30 to taste a few wines, though $40, $50, or even $75 fees aren’t unheard of.” A winery tour may be free, but with a charge if you then want to try the products. “If you’ve paid a fee for the tour—generally from $20 to $40—your wine tasting is usually included.”

Among the Napa Valley wineries the guidebook recommends are (as you head north from Napa) Cliff Lede Vineyards (www.cliffledevineyards.com)—“efficient, high-tech winery” with vineyard blocks named for Grateful Dead songs; Far Niente (www.farniente.com)—“one of Napa’s most beautiful properties”; Silver Oak (www.silveroak.com)—whose tasting room is reclaimed stone “from a 19th-century Kansas flour mill”; Frog’s Leap (www.frogsleap.com)—“if you’re a novice, the tour here is a fun way to begin your education”; Hall St. Helena (www.hallwines.com)—“the Cabernet Sauvignons…are works of art”; and Joseph Phelps Vineyards (www.josephphelps.com)—“90-minute tastings as thoughtfully conceived as the wines.”

In most cases, a visit to these wineries requires advance booking.

 

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