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A Day in the Life: Ram's Gate Winery, Sonoma: For those who would like to be a gentleman/woman vintner for a day, "A Day in the Life" at Ram's Gate Winery starts with a bit of "light work," which, depending on the season, may include pruning vines or grape picking. Next, guests get to hang with the head gardener while gathering ingredients for a farm-to-table meal prepared by executive chef Taylr Benham... (continued next slide)
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After a splash of sparkling wine, A Day in the Life guests venture to the apiary with an expert beekeeper for some honey tasting and to learn about the symbiotic relationship between the garden and bees. Next is a five-course lunch, prepared with ingredients from the garden and paired with Ram's Gate chardonnay and pinot noir. The day ends with a trip to the cellar together with winemaker Jeff Gaffner, who guides a tasting of wine straight from the barrels. $295 per person. Two weeks' advance notice required.
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In Pursuit of Pinot Noir: Kosta Browne, Sebastopol: Kosta Browne, producer of some of the world's most highly coveted pinot noirs, has partnered with Hotel Healdsburg and Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen to create In Pursuit of Pinot Noir, a rare opportunity to explore Kosta Browne's offerings. (The winery, which produces small lot pinot with waitlists of up to five years, is not open to the public)... (continued next slide)
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The In Pursuit of Pinot package includes a two-night stay at Hotel Healdsburg, complete with breakfast and valet parking, a reserve tour and tasting at Kosta Browne's winery in Sebastopol, and a multi-course tasting menu, designed by executive chef Scott Romano and paired with Kosta Brown wines. Package starts at $1,149.
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Enoteca Experience: Signorello Estate, Napa: Small production, estate wines are the speciality at Signorello Estate. The appointment only winery produces allotment only cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay that are among some of the highest scoring in Wine Country. The winery's three hour Enotoca Experience starts with a chauffeured tour of Signorello's 100-acre property... (continued next slide)
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After the tour, Enoteca Experience guests settle in for a five course gourmet wine and food pairing created by the winery's estate chef, Michael Pryor. The menu uses meats from Snake River Farms, producer of American Waygu steak - basically the Lamborghini of meats. Recent menus include local salmon, lobster & grits, and Waygu eye of ribeye, the latter which is paired with Signorello's Padrone, a cabernet sauvignon that averages $170 a bottle. $175 per person.
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Tour the Terroir: Gary Farrell Winery, Copain & Arista, Healdsburg: Three notable pinot noir and chardonnay producers have teamed up for the Westside-Eastside Road Terroir Tour in the Russian River Valley. The day begins with a single vineyard flight at Copain, which specializes in cool climate chardonnay, pinot noir and syrah from Anderson Valley. The tasting takes place in Copain's hillside tasting room and is followed by a locally-sourced lunch... (continued next slide)
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Next stop on Tour the Terroir is the newly renovated Gary Farrell Winery, where guests taste through a special flight of current and library single vineyard designate chardonnay and pinot noir in the winery's private salon. The final stop on the tour is Arista Winery, where a private tasting is offered on the mezzanine overlooking one of the sustainably-farmed estate vineyards. Arista's chardonnay and pinot noirs are paired with small bites prepared by the winery's executive chef. $200 per person.
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Bountiful Table: Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Napa: Food was just as important to living the good life for Joseph Phelps as the wine produced at his namesake winery. He hosted get togethers with friends (including famed chef Alice Waters) and family frequently. Today, his love for food is carried on by a culinary team, including his granddaughter, Allie Phelps, that pairs Phelps' wines with a multi-course lunch using seasonal ingredients during the Bountiful Table experience... (continued next slide)
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The three hour Bountiful Table experience offers guests the opportunity to explore Joseph Phelps wines from Napa and Sonoma counties. The visit starts with passed canapés on the terrace, overlooking estate vineyards, followed by lunch, which includes a pairing with Joseph Phelps iconic Insignia Bordeaux blend. Recent lunch menus included Morro Bay oysters, foie gras tortellini, and Liberty Farms duck with Australian truffles. $275 per person.
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Become a Cult Winemaker: Round Pond Estate, Rutherford: Creator of cult cabernet sauvignons Secret Garden, The Vow and The Scholar's Gate (the latter which averages $225), Round Pond's Gravel Series offers cab-fanatics a chance to experience cabernet production up close and personal with winemaker Jaime Dowell. Activities vary depending on the time of the year... (continued next slide)
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During spring, Gravel Series guests experience the blending process, creating their own custom blend alongside Dowell: in the summer, they tour the vineyards and learn about different vineyard farming practices. In the fall, guests participate in the harvest process, picking the fruit and helping out at the crush pad. Lunch is served on Round Pond's winery terrace, with produce and cheese sourced from Napa Valley and paired with cult wines. $800 per person, $2,200 per person for all three seasons.
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A Futuristic Tasting: Davis Estates, Calistoga: Cave tours are a standard in Wine Country, but Davis Estates' Cave Tour is like something out of a science fiction novel. Guests first tour the estate vineyards, then walk through the Howard Backen designed winery and into 11,000 square feet of caves. The tasting takes place in the Phase V Cellarium. To enter, guests must use an infrared vein scanner, which unlocks four-ton double doors that reveal a 24-foot tall glass and steel enclosed octagon, also designed by Backen.
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The Phase V Cellarium, which looks like something out of Star Trek, is temperature controlled so Cave Tour guests can sip wine without being chilled by the cellar temperature outside. Guests are guided through a tasting of the Phase V wine series, created by Phillippe Melka. Only about 200 cases are made of the wine per vintage. The wines, which include petite sirah and cabernet sauvignon which retail for $105 and $185, respectively. The wines are paired with seasonal food pairings created by the winery chef. $250 per person.
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Get the Key to the Castle: Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga: Castello di Amorosa offers the priciest tasting experience on this list - their luxury experiences start at $950 and top off at $20,000. The latter, the Diamante Experience, starts with a private car picking up guests in the Bay Area, followed by a two-night stay at a Napa Valley hotel. Winery owner Dario Sattui and President Georg Salzner present guests with a key to the castle at the drawbridge followed by a private tour with their on-site sommelier, including a barrel tasting with winemaker Brooks Painter... (continued next slide)
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The Diamante Experience continues with guests making their own wine blend, a taste of library wines and a private, catered lunch. A photographer follows along, documenting the experience to be presented to guests in a leather-bound book. Guests leave the castle with a box of chocolates, 12 Rene Gabriel-Glas wine glasses, olive oils, 15 Montecristo cigars, tickets to their annual winemaker dinner, a wine club membership, and the icing on a cake: a barrel (288 bottles) of cabernet sauvignon, branded with the guests' name, as well as an empty barrel to take home. $20,000 per couple.