For this week’s virtual vacation we are headed to Napa Valley for a virtual wine tour! About a year and a half ago, my husband and I did a wine tour in Temecula, CA which is about an hours drive north from San Diego where I have family. Temecula is still an emerging region into the wine-making arena with approximately 40 wineries. The area started growing with the first vineyards in the 1960’s. The tour was a lot of fun and we had a great day, but my dream wine trip aside from a wine tour in Italy, would be to go to Napa Valley where wine making dates back to the 1850’s.
(Cougar Valley Winery, Temecula, CA)
Napa Valley plays host to over 400 wineries, and is now visited by over 5 million people every year. There are over 43,000 acres of vineyard plot throughout Napa Valley currently.
Our first stop on our Virtual Wine tour is Castello di Amorosa which was opened to the public in April 2007, by 4th generation vintner, Dario Sattui. The vineyards here are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Primitivo, and Sangiovese grapes. For a walking tour of the vineyard, please click here. For 360 degree photos of several areas of the vineyard, click here.
The second stop on our Virtual Wine tour is to Robert Mondavi, a more well known wine that you can purchase at many of your local wine distributors. This winery was established in 1966 and is renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wine in the world, as well as for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes, from which Mr. Mondavi crafted his signature wine, Fume Blanc. Please click here for a virtual video tour of the winery.
The third stop on our wine tour takes us to Inglenook Winery which dates back to 1879 and was founded by a Finnish Sea Captain. Today the winery is now owned by famed movie director, Francis Ford Coppola. Rubicon is the winery's flagship wine and is made from grapes harvested from organically grown vineyards on the winery property. Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah. Please click here for a short video tour of the winery, and click here for 360 degree photos of the winery.
The final stop on our Virtual Wine Tour is to Sterling Vineyards. This vineyard was founded in 1964 with first vintage in 1969. The winery is best known for its Napa Cabernet. Varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon blanc. Sterling Vineyards is a popular destination for tourists, in part for a gondola lift that shuttles visitors from a parking lot to the winery, which sits on a volcanic hill 300 feet above the valley floor. Please click here for a video tour of the winery, and here for 360 degree photos of the winery. Sterling Wines can also be found at many local wine distributors.
Now how about a virtual wine tasting at home? Many of the wineries in Napa Valley are offering virtual wine tasting from home. Please click this link for participating wineries. In addition, many of the wineries are also offering free or reduced shipping during this time. Details can be found on the same link.
Wine.com is offering free virtual wine tastings from winemakers, wine critics, and celebrities. Upcoming celebrity wine tastings include John Legend, French vintner Jean-Charles Boisset, and Lisa Vanderpump.
Wine Tasting Tips
1. Swirl & Sniff- You should absolutely plan to swirl the wine in your glass, and then lower your nose to the rim and inhale deeply before tasting. The swirling action allows oxygen to enter the wine and become more fragrant.
2. Swish & Spit or Swallow - The thought that you should take the wine into your mouth and then spit it out was born out of a necessity to remain sober throughout the entire tasting. But today tastings are generally just two or three ounces, and the chances of intoxication are pretty low. So, take the wine into your mouth, allow it to swish and dance over your tongue as you consider the flavors, and then swallow it. Or spit it out. It’s totally your choice.
3. Build a Budget - The cost of a wine tasting will vary greatly. They can vary anywhere from complimentary to upwards of $50 per experience.
4. Take Notes - It’s unrealistic for anyone to be expected to remember all of the details about five wines considered in such a small window of time so take notes as you go so you can remember what you liked and didn’t like.
You should plan to drink water between the tastings, both to clear your palate as well as to keep you hydrated, as well as to consume small bites. A cheeseboard, crackers, and nuts are usually good choices. They can highlight the flavor of the wine and keep you from feeling woozy.
If you enjoyed this virtual vacation you can take it with you to your next Zoom meeting. Click here to see how to have a piece of Napa in your next virtual meeting.
Here's some fun accessories to up your wine game at home: