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BEST OVERALL WINERY & BEST TASTING ROOM - MacRostie Winery & Vineyards, Healdsburg: Founded in 1987, MacRostie Winery & Vineyards won two awards this year: best overall winery, which they tied with Schramsberg Vineyards in Napa Valley, and best tasting room. Producing chardonnay and pinot noir, MacRostie opened their new Russian River Valley tasting room, deemed the "Estate House" in 2015. (Courtesy photo)
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Open by appointment only, the MacRostie Estate House features indoor and outdoor seatings, all with views of the surrounding vineyards and valleys. Tasting experiences include various flight options and an elevated tasting ($75) that includes a tour of the property followed by a food and wine pairing of single designate wines, locally sourced small bites, including cheeses and chocolate. (Courtesy photo)
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BEST OVERALL WINERY - Schramsberg Vineyards, Calistoga: The historic sparkling wine house, Schramsberg Vineyards, tied MacRostie in the title for best overall winery. Tours ($70) educate guests on not only the history of the property, which has been producing sparkling wine since the 19th-century, but also on the sparkling winemaking processes. Tours include a visit to the caves followed by a tasting of sparkling, with still wine and food pairing options. Appointment only. (Courtesy photo)
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BEST WINE CAVE - Palmaz Vineyards, Napa: Family owned and operated, Palmaz Vineyards won best cave for their 18-story (yes, 18 stories high) wine cave designed in the Bauhaus architectural style. A self-described "subterranean winery," Palmaz makes their cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, riesling and other wines through an eco-friendly gravity flow method in the caves. It looks like something out of a science fiction novel. Tastings start at $100 and are appointment only. (Courtesy photo)
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BEST LABEL DESIGN - Blackbird Vineyards, Napa: Blackbird Vineyards go beyond the wine lifestyle, they're also big proponents of design and fine art being a part of daily life. Hence, their award for best label design. Their labels feature blackbirds flying into the sky, with their signature Bordeaux blend, Arise, displaying blackbirds on a line representing the notes of the Beatles iconic "Blackbird" ("Blackbird singing in the dead of night"). (Courtesy photo)
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MOST ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY - Benziger Family Winery, Glen Ellen: It's no surprise that Benziger Family Winery wins in the most environmentally friendly category. A leader in eco-friendly wine production and farming, Benziger Family Winery is a must-visit for visitors interested in organic wine, green farming practices, and nature. In 2000, the winery became biodynamic, which is the highest level of organic certification. Guests explore the property on a 45-minute tram tour, learning about eco-friendly winemaking practices followed by a tasting. Tastings start at $20. (Courtesy photo)
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MOST INSTAGRAM FRIENDLY - Raymond Vineyards, Saint Helena: Friends, family and couples have been flocking to Raymond Vineyards to not only taste wine, but to also shoot colorful Instagram photos on the winery's sprawling property, earning the winery the title of most Instagram friendly. Whether shooting selfies with goats in the educational Theater of Nature, lounging in the sexy Red Room, or snapping group photos at the outdoor living room, complete with plastic furniture and self-friendly photo frames, it is no wonder why Raymond earned this award. Tastings start at $25. (Photo @chebby2)
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BEST NEW WINERY - Lokoya, Saint Helena: Founded in 1995, it wasn't until November 2016 that Lokoya opened their Spring Mountain tasting room. The upper echelon of Jackson Family Wines portfolio, Lokoya's tasting room is located in a 50-year-old stone and concrete building that has been renovated with contemporary lighting, design and an outdoor patio. By appointment only, their wines average $375 a bottle.
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BEST WINERY TOUR - Chappellet Winery, Saint Helena: The iconic Chappellet Winery wins best winery tour for the tour that takes place at their Pritchard Hill estate. Tours may include visit to their one-of-a-kind pyramid shape winery, a walking tour of their estate vineyards, including views of Lake Hennessey, and a tasting in their barrel room. Tastings start at $40. By appointment.
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BEST PET FRIENDLY WINERY - St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery, Rutherford: Napa Valley's St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery takes home the award for best pet friendly winery. CEO Emma Swain's love for dogs has helped create a welcoming environment for wine lovers to bring their fur babies. The property is dog friendly, with an outdoor patio and stroll-worthy gardens. The tasting room offers dog treats and they sell winery branded bandanas to outfit your pups. Tastings start at $35. By appointment.
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BEST WINE EDUCATOR - Alan Arnopole, Peju Province Winery, Rutherford: A legend in his own right, tasting room associate Alan Arnopole of Peju Province Winery wins the award for best wine educator. Also known as the "Yodel Meister," the multi-talented Arnopole entertains guests with Monty Python-esque wine themed humor, songs, jokes and even rapping. He's been working with Peju since 1995, at the age of 48. Aside from selling wine, he also sells his own CDs at the tasting room, which he has sold over 5,000 copies to guests.
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BEST WINE & FOOD PAIRING - Hamel Family Wines, Sonoma: In a land where wine and food go hand in hand, Hamel Family Wines is named for offering the best wine and food pairing in Wine Country. Various levels of tastings are offered, including an estate experience with wines paired with small bites, or a custom experience which includes a multi-course, meal worthy pairing created by the Hamel Family's estate chef. The food is sourced locally and seasonally, including using produce from their onsite, organic and biodynamic farm.
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BEST TRANSPORTATION COMPANY - Pure Luxury Transportation: Drinking and driving is one of the biggest faux pas one can make when wine tasting and therefore, Pure Luxury Transportation has no shortage of customers who seek their services. Voted best transportation company, Pure Luxury's fleet includes limousines, sedans, buses, vans and more. All tastings kick off with a bottle of bubbles en route to the first winery and they offer tours throughout Napa & Sonoma counties.
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BEST FESTIVAL - BottleRock Napa Valley, Napa: The annual festival, BottleRock, takes the award for best festival in Wine Country. The three day festival features international music acts (the 2017 lineup included the Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, and Maroon 5) paired with local foods, wine, beer and more - even spa treatments. On the culinary stage, attendees can watch celebrity chefs team up with musicians to prepare gourmet food, like Martha Stewart with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
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