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Must-visit wineries in California

Posted by by Bill Belkin, wine and spirits category manager
Thursday, August 9, 2012

When I decided to take 10 days over the 4th of July for a personal “vacation,” there was little doubt about where I would go - wine country! “Wait, that’s your job,” you say. Well, if you could call it work, then yes, I worked over my entire vacation.

I visited about 20 different properties, many for the first time, and it occurred to me it’s my civic duty, as well as my vocational duty, to exhort all who read this and love food and wine to make the trek to wine country very soon!

Certainly in no order of importance or prestige, I visited the following areas of California. And because it’s so hot and humid here, in the interest of word economy and brevity, I will do short fragment associations with the places I visited. If anyone needs or wants to know more, just drop me a note.

In the meantime, kick back, pop something pink (Roses are all the rage) and take in these great wineries for your next trip to California!

Healdsburg, CA:

  • Capture – A special brand for Lunds and Byerly’s. They make less than 3,000 cases for the world each year and we’ll have the incredible Tradition Sauvignon Blanc on our floors during the summer sale, ending August 18.
  • Seghesio – I had a superb luncheon built around six wines Ted Seghesio himself took us through. The Cortina Zinfandel is out of this world!
  • Chalk Hill – This is a must visit on anyone’s wine country tour. The wines have never been better and the Pinot Gris of all things is the wine I bought and had sent back here. We now carry it in our wines and spirits shops!

St. Helena, CA:

  • Barnett Vineyards – Winemaker and friend David Tate is firmly in charge of making some of Napa’s best wines – try the new Donnelly Creek Pinot Noir!
  • Heitz Cellars – Heitz, as in Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet, as in California royalty. Wow is all I can say!
  • Failla Wines – Ehren Jordan (owner of Failla and also a producer of Turley Zinfandel) actually has a love affair with Pinot Noir. Taste any of his single vineyard wines to understand why!

Angwin, CA:

  • Cade Winery – owned by former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and billionaire, Gordon Getty, this is one of only three LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certified wineries in Napa Valley. Everything is made out of something else and the wines are delicious. Oh yea, they own Plumpjack Winery, too! 


Rutherford, CA:

  • Hall Winery – Owned by former U.S. Ambassador to Austria, Kathryn Hall, this showplace makes killer Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a slew of Cabernets from mountain fruit. The art collection there is world class.

Oakville, CA:

  • Kristine Ashe Cellars – Stay tuned for a Lunds and Byerly’s exclusive on this Cabernet. They produce 14 barrels for the entire world. Made by Philippe Melka. A special occasion, wax sealed Cabernet that your friends will covet!

Yountville, CA:

  • Domain Chandon – A tour that was informative and a lunch at Etoile unlike any other I have had. Make a point to visit this place!

Napa, CA:

  • Black Stallion Winery – This place will knock you out. The beauty of the winery and the surrounding grounds are out of this world! Try the Cabernet for a great value, too.
  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – This is the winery that started it all. They won the 1976 Paris tasting over the French Bordeaux! Stag’s still makes three of the best wines in California.

  • Silverado Winery – Sure Walt Disney’s children own the winery, and sure money is no object, but the wines have never tasted better and the Cabernet is a wine we BOGO once a year. Buy it on sale through August 18!

San Anselmo, CA:

  • Textbook Wines – Our exclusive brand of Cabernet and Chardonnay are a product of husband and wife team Jon and Susan Pey.

Stay hydrated, drink wine!

Tags: Must-visit wineries in California

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