Tag Archives: Wine

Big Wines on Small Change

Grand Oz Wine Husch Vineyards

We even got a taste of this limited edition bottle during our free tasting at Husch Vineyards

It didn’t take us long to spend the money we saved passing up pricey Napa Valley wine tastings. While we left Napa without purchasing even a single bottle, we didn’t come away empty-handed in another of California’s great wine regions.

The Anderson Valley is more off the beaten path than Napa and Sonoma, further north and harder to reach but well worth the effort. In fact, the effort is part of the fun. Driving from the coastal town of Mendocino we followed a beautifully winding, redwood-lined road that was as much a joy to drive as it was breathtaking to observe.

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Authentically Out of Place and Time

Castello di Amorosa, Napa Valley, California

Castello di Amorosa

The world is better for eccentrics; the artists, entertainers, scientists and imaginers who see things no one before ever did and, by virtue of their vision, take the world in a direction it never previously knew existed. Eccentricity is also the reason you can tour an authentic 12th-century Tuscan castle in California’s Napa Valley.

Quibblers will no doubt deem the previous sentence a non sequitur. A Tuscan castle cannot, by definition, exist in California. Nor can this particular castle, completed in 2007, be described as 12th century. Yet, in important ways, it is both those things, and authentically so.

So what gives?

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Wine Country Beyond Wine

Bar Closed Sign

Sticker shock greeted us on our third and most recent visit to the Napa Valley. We remember when tasting rooms were economical places to discover wine. These days they can quickly become a budget buster, with tastings running about $20 a pop for a few thin pours. Now it’s often cheaper to bypass the samplings altogether and just buy a bottle instead.

The good news is that California wine country isn’t exclusively about the wine. Many vineyards are also competing for tourist attention by building lavish grounds and offering other attractions that are often completely gratis.

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Wine Country in the City

Deep Sea Winery Tasting Room, Santa Barbara

Wine and waves at the Deep Sea Tasting Room in Santa Barbara, CA

We needed to make up some ground. We were in California, the country’s top wine-producing state, for two months before sampling even a single locally-produced vintage. That changed in Santa Barbara, on the Central Coast, where some of the regions winemakers have made tasting their merchandise as easy as taking a stroll through town.

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