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Domaine Carneros, Napa: Every visit to Napa Valley should begin with bubbles. Founded by the Taittinger family of Champagne fame, Domaine Carneros produces French-style sparklers from sustainably grown estate vineyards. Take in the vineyard views from a table on the patio - you'll feel like you've been transported to a French countryside chateau.
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Domaine Carneros, tasting experience: Lovebirds longing for luxury can opt for the Sparkling Suite experience ($500 per person), which includes a tasting on a private balcony overlooking vineyards - no doubt, you won't forget your first taste of Napa. Reservations required, tastings start at $30 per person. 800-716-BRUT, 1240 Duhig Rd., Napa, domainecarneros.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Schramsberg, Calistoga: Founded in 1862, Schramsberg is one of the oldest sparkling wine producers in California. The historic property was purchased by Jack and Jamie Davies in 1965 and is now listed as a California Historical Landmark, complete with a Victorian mansion and caves. Shortly after buying the winery, the Davies made their first vintage of Blanc de Blancs - the first commercial use of chardonnay in a sparkling wine made in the United States.
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Schramsberg, tasting experience: Tasting experiences are educational, starting with a tour of the historic property and caves followed by a selection of seated sparkling tastings and food pairings. Visitors can also taste cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, ensuring that even non-bubbleheads will be satisfied. By appointment only, tastings start at $70. 800-877-3623, 1400 Schramsberg Rd, Calistoga, schramsberg.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Artesa, Napa: Both locals and visitors to wine country tout the views and vino at Artesa, where the hillside tasting room and winery overlooks 350 acres of vineyards. Opened in 1991 by the Codorníu Raventós, a Spanish winemaking family, Artesa offers estate-grown, sustainably made chardonnay and pinot noir crafted by winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper.
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Artesa, tasting experience: After snapping selfies at the impressive entrance fountains, settle into a tasting at the modern Mediterranean tasting bar, or reserve ahead for seating on the patio, which offers 360-degree views - on a clear day you can see San Francisco. Channel the Spanish influence with a tapas wine pairing, which starts with Artesa's limited-production sparkling wine. Reservations recommended, tastings start at $35. 707-224-1668, 1345 Henry Rd., Napa, artesawinery.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Beaulieu Vineyard, Rutherford: In French, beau lieu means "beautiful place," and that is what the de Latour family named their Rutherford property upon setting eyes on it in 1900. One of the oldest wineries in California, Beaulieu Vineyard (or simply "BV") is a must-visit for wine lovers seeking a touch of heritage with their estate cabernet.
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Beaulieu Vineyard, tasting experience: Guests can sip BV Bordeaux at the historic winery's redwood tasting bar or on the patio. Personalized tastings of BV's most coveted wines, including big cabernets served in magnum bottles, are also available. The reservation-only experience starts with a tour of the winery where their most collectible, age-worthy wines are made. Reservations recommended, tastings start at $20. 800-373-5896, 1960 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, bvwines.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Beringer, St. Helena: The first and only winery to have both a red and a white wine named #1 Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator, Beringer has been crafting wines for over 141 years, making it the oldest continually operating California winery. If that isn't enough to convince you to visit, the gardens and the stately Victorian-era tasting rooms, housed in the Beringer family's former home - the Rhine House - should seal the deal.
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Beringer, tasting experience: Reserve ahead for a pairing on the porch of the Rhine House, featuring artisan cheeses paired with Beringer's most iconic chardonnay, cabernet and red blends. The winery also offers a cave tour of the historic hand-carved tunnels and winery; the tour includes a tasting of three wines. Reservations recommended, tastings start at $25. 707-257-5771, 2000 Main St., St. Helena, beringer.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga: It’s no surprise that some refer to Dario Sattui, a 4th generation vintner and the man behind Castello di Amorosa, as a modern-day Don Quixote. Some twenty years ago, Sattui began a 15-year quest to build a medieval-style Tuscan castle in Napa Valley as a place to showcase his wines. The result: a 107 room, 8 level, 136,000 square feet castle complete with drawbridge, secret passageways, torture chamber — and tasting rooms.
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Castello di Amorosa, tasting experience: After touring the property, taste through the Castello's vast selection of Italian-varietal wines - the stars of the show are the reds, including their super Tuscan, Sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. Tastings start at $30. 707-967-6272, 4045 St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga, castellodiamorosa.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Charles Krug, St. Helena: The name "Charles Krug" might not be as familiar as "Mondavi" but if it wasn't for this historic winery, the Mondavi name might not be as synonymous with fine wine as it now is. Immigrants from Italy, the Mondavi family took over this winery in 1943 and never looked back. Step into the historic estate and into the redwood barrel room - it's one of the most selfie-worthy spots in California.
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Charles Krug, tasting experience: Sit down for a formal tasting of Krug's sauvignon blancs, chardonnays and cabernets, while a friendly host shares the story of the winery. Or buy a bottle and pick up a charcuterie plate or a wood-fired pizza from the Cucina di Rosa, an onsite salumeria and pizza kitchen that pays tribute to Rosa Mondavi, the matriarch of the Mondavi family. Tastings start at $45. 707-967-2229, 2800 Main St., St. Helena, charleskrug.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Chateau Montelena, Calistoga: We can thank Chateau Montelena, founded in 1882, for putting California wine on the international wine map. Yes, there once was a time when American wine was the laughing stock of France and its wine producing neighbors. But that all changed when Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay won the famous Paris Tasting. Today, the winery continues to produce delicious accessible wines, including their legendary chardonnay and collectible cabernet sauvignon.
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Chateau Montelena, tasting experience: Visit the, which was built in a dramatic English Gothic-style, for a splash of wine (don't miss the sleeper, the Zinfandel) and wander the Chateau's beautiful Chinese garden, lake and vineyards, glass in hand. Tastings start at $30. 707-942-5105, 1429 Tubbs Ln., Calistoga, montelena.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Duckhorn, St. Helena: Wine drinkers flock to Napa Valley for cabernet sauvignon, but true wine lovers also seek out merlot and the best place to taste the resurgence of the ruby red is at Duckhorn Vineyards. Duckhorn merlots have been named "wine of the year" "merlot of the year" and "just plain darn delicious" by major publications (including Sonoma Magazine) time and time again, so you don't want to miss a taste while in Napa Valley.
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Duckhorn, tasting experience: The unpretentious tasting room at Duckhorn is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Make a reservation on the veranda for a tasting of whites and reds, and splurge on a charcuterie plate - a good excuse to linger. Don't miss the famous Three Palms Vineyards Merlot - trust us, you won't regret it. Tastings start at $40. 707-963-7108, 1000 Lodi Ln., St. Helena, duckhorn.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Far Niente, Oakville: Another Napa Valley landmark, Far Niente was founded in 1885 by John Benson, who made his money in the California gold rush. Another fun fact: Benson's uncle was famous American Impressionist Winslow Homer. The historic building, surrounded by 13-acres of landscaped gardens, is located next to a hillside with 40,000 square-feet of caves that age the winery's award-winning cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.
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Far Niente, tasting experience: Make a reservation for the 90-minute tour and tasting experience. The tasting ends with Dolce, a lauded late harvest wine. Don't miss a chance to see the oldest bottle of wine in California, an 1886 Far Niente Sweet Muscat, which the winery proudly displays. Tastings start at $80. 707-944-2861, appointment only, farniente.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Hall Napa Valley, St. Helena: One of the amazing things about Napa Valley is the diversity of wine tasting experiences available here: one minute you're sipping sparkling wine in a 100-year-old wine cave, the next you're tasting bold red blends surrounded by contemporary art. At Hall, pair eco-friendly wines with fine art - the winery is the brainchild of Kathryn Walt Hall (philanthropist and former Ambassador to Austria) and her husband, Craig.
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Hall Napa Valley, tasting experience: Explore Hall's St. Helena property with a tour of the innovative production facilities, which will impress any techie, and the organic gardens where you can pluck a fresh tomato to tickle your palate. Then belly up to the tasting bar for a tasting of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, or settle into a private tasting in a room adorned with art and surrounded by vineyards. And don't forget to snap a selfie with Bunny Foo-Foo. Tastings start at $40. 707-967-2626, 401 St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena, hallwines.com.
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Inglenook, Rutherford: Founded in 1879, Inglenook was the go-to wine for the American elite - including presidents - by the turn of the century. Today, Inglenook wines are among the most collected in the country. The winery was purchased by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola in 1975 with profits from The Godfather films. Dress up and charge your phone for pictures - the property itself looks like a movie set.
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Inglenook, tasting experience: Tour the property, glass in hand, during the Experience Tasting which includes visits to the caves, the vineyards and one of the oldest winemaking facilities in the country, featuring huge redwood barrels. End the experience with a seated tasting of Inglenook's cellar-worthy wines paired with artisan cheese. Don't miss the gift shop and the filmmaking memorabilia from Coppola's personal collection Tastings start at $45. 707-968-1161, appointment only, inglenook.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville: Robert Mondavi founded his namesake winery in 1966, planting cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. His first vintage created a culture around wine in America which in turn generated new winemaking processes, innovative technology and, most importantly, the widespread celebration of fine wine and food.
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Robert Mondavi, tasting experience: Wander through the famous To Kalon Vineyard, while sipping Mondavi's signature Fumé Blanc, checking out the art, snapping selfies in front of vineyard views and tasting food from the winery's award-winning culinary program. Try a walk-in tasting at the bar, or opt for a reservation-only lunch, which includes a tour and a gourmet picnic lunch in the gardens. Tastings start at $25. 888-766-6328, 7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville, robertmondaviwinery.com.
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Silver Oak, Oakville: You can't dine at an American steakhouse without seeing Silver Oak on the wine list. The winery was founded in the late 1960s with one goal: to make cabernet sauvignon aged exclusively in American White Oak. If you're a whiskey enthusiast, you've tasted the magic already - rich and complex flavors that make for age-worthy spirits. At Silver Oak, it's all about "forest to barrel to glass."
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Silver Oak, tasting experience: Observe the winemaking process in a glass-enclosed cellar while you sip cab in a modern tasting room built from hand-quarried limestone. If you have a pinot lover in your company, opt for a tasting that features both Silver Oak's cabernet and pinot from Silver Oak's sister property, Twomey. Tastings start at $30. 707-942-7022, 915 Oakville Cross Rd., Oakville, silveroak.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Stags' Leap, Napa: Stags' Leap has produced hearty wines for some 100 years that showcase the diversity of its namesake Napa wine district. This is a great first-time winery for those looking to impress - founder Horace Chase built the fanciful Manor House for his wife Minnie in 1890. The stone house features a Juliet balcony, a perfect sneak-a-kiss-spot, and a castle-like turret that is fit for a queen (in fact, the Queen of Portugal once visited). In the mid-20th century, the property was a hot spot for Hollywood elite.
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Stags' Leap, tasting experience: The winery produces 90+ point cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, merlot and chardonnay that will impress your partner as much as the scenery will - ask for a patio tasting if the weather allows. Tastings start at $65. 707-257-5790, appointment only, stagsleap.com. (Courtesy photo)
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Starmont Winery and Vineyards, Napa: One of the newer wineries in Napa Valley, Starmont is a great spot for newbie wine enthusiasts seeking to expand their palate without intimidation. The winery, part of the Merryvale brand, is geared toward Millennials with its modern style, contemporary furnishings, dog-friendly outdoor lounge, and a wide selection of wines that are reasonably priced and palate-friendly.
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Starmont Winery and Vineyards, tasting experience: Located on the site of the historic Stanly Ranch, which was planted with grapes in 1872, you still get a taste of the history of the region as you check out the vineyards, listen to hip music and sip sustainable rosé and cabernet. It's a casual scene where you can lounge without pressure and, if you're lucky, a food truck will be onsite for a snack. The winery is also bike friendly, if you find yourself exploring the Carneros area on two wheels. Tastings start at $25. 707-252-8001, 1451 Stanly Lane, Napa, starmontwinery.com.
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