Seven Beautiful California Wineries
There are few travel experiences that marry all of the senses like visiting a winery– the complexity of flavor and aroma in every tasting glass, the tranquil scenery, the sounds of the vineyards. Just like the vast varieties in wine itself, the soul of each California winery can’t be boiled down to one catch-all description. The following is our list of some of the most beautiful wineries in the acclaimed Napa and Sonoma Valleys, each with their own unique focus, ranging from art to nature conservation.
No list of must-see wineries would be complete without the Donum Estate. The winery was born out of two of founder Anne Moller-Racke’s greatest passions: art and wine. The estate is filled with incredible art and sculptures by world-renowned artists such as Ai Wei Wei and Keith Haring, Richard Hudson, Zhan Wang and Yue Minjun. Strolling the picturesque vineyard and taking in the art and the wine is sure to stoke your passion for both.
Gorgeous natural views? Check. A sprawling, pastoral estate? Check. Warm, wooden interiors, inviting tasting spaces and the world-class wine to make it all worth it? Check, check and check. Nestled in wooded foothills with less than 10% of the land under vine, the rugged Promontory sits amongst rocky outcroppings secluded in the Oakville canyon. Enjoy one of Promontory’s famous Cabernet blends while gazing out at the rolling hills of Napa Valley that stretch out below you, and soak in the flavors of wine shaped by the whims of the land.
Fantesca may be best known for it’s superstar cult winemaker Heidi Barrett, but one thing visitors are sure to remember is the idyllic backdrop of their wine-tasting. Set atop a ridge line above the valley, Fantesca is quintessential Napa in private style. The rolling vineyards drop off to views of the nearby Napa hills, yet secluded atop the property you’ll feel in a world all to yourself. A tasting here, coupled with a visit to their iconic cliffside cellar, will stand as a highlight of any Napa Valley road trip.
Only 150 of Kenzo Estate’s 3,800 acres are planted, protecting the serene natural elements of the undisturbed landscape surrounding the vineyard. Spring fed reservoirs, untouched forests, and roaming wildlife just beyond sight infuse the property with a sense of Yūgen, a Japanese concept on the profundity and subtlety of natural beauty. This Japanese sensibility is present all over the estate, founded by business mogul Kenzo Tsujimoto. With impeccable wine by Heidi Barrett, and the 1-star Michelin restaurant in downtown Napa, Tsujimoto spared no expense or effort to make Kenzo Estate one of the region’s best names in wine.
Brothers Andrew and Adam Mariani place a great emphasis on their Sonoma vineyard’s natural beauty. Scribe focuses on getting visitors out of the traditional tasting room and into the environment that produces their incredible wines. Tastes are held in the gardens and picnics are held beneath the boughs of trees, both with great views of the vines and palms that line the property. The brothers’ philosophy is a connection between people and place, and their wines the agent for that connective experience. With such an outstanding location, Scribe is certainly a place worth connecting to.
Flowers Winery embraces the beauty of the far west Sonoma Coast and creates wine with a true sense of place. Located less than two miles away from the Pacific Ocean, yet standing at high levels of elevation, the drastic contrasts of the Flowers location makes it more than scenically stunning… it’s also what impresses their wine with its unique character. The stark hillside exposures, fog-filled mornings and sunny days combine to create risky, yet rewarding, conditions for vineyards. The winery uses biodynamic and organic practices, working with the elements rather than against them.
This family-friendly, small-batch vineyard in the Sonoma Hills is the perfect spot for those who’d like to appreciate some outstanding wine without leaving the kids behind. Beyond the yearly excitement of the annual Grape Stomp event, there’s corn hole and even a scavenger hunt available for the kids (acorns and corks being a few items on the hunt list). The property, with its valley-wide vistas and 1870s-era agricultural buildings carries a sense of history. It’s been home to many different ventures, from a dairy farm to a prune orchard to a rural retreat with a stagecoach stop. Based on the belief that wine is best enjoyed with good food, Belden Barns has always closely partnered with Kibo Farm, a small, family farm that supplies many of the premier restaurants in the area.
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