THE BEST WINERIES
tasting around a round table in a private room make this a great stop for those looking for a little entertainment with their edu- cation. See p. 72.
Shafer Vineyards (Napa): If you want to taste some of the region’s finest and most coveted wine and enjoy an extremely intimate, informative, and gracious introduction to the real-life workings of a winery and the people behind it, this is your best bet. An added perk is that the Stags Leap winery next door has just renovated its digs, and the tasting area, which hosts up to 10 people at a time, is breathtaking. See p. 56.
Swanson Vineyards & Winery (Rutherford): No other winery offers such a luxurious, relaxed, and fun tasting as this sexy lit- tle reservations-only stop. Join the select few guests at a round table, taste delicious wines, and nibble on bonbons while you make new friends and learn about the famed Rutherford dust. Now that’s living. See p. 64.
IN SONOMA VALLEY
Benziger Family Winery (Glen Ellen): As soon as you arrive here, you’ll know you’re at a family-run winery—in fact, you’ll feel instantly like part of the Benziger clan. This low-volume, high-quality winery offers an exceptional self-guided tour, a 40- minute tram tour through its pastoral grounds, $5 tastings, and many excellent, reasonably priced wines. See p. 127.
Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves (Carneros District): Gloria is the grande dame of Sonoma Valley’s sparkling wine producers. On a sunny day, it’s impossible not to enjoy sipping a glass of brut on the terrace of this palatial estate as you take in the magnificent views of the vineyards and valley below. If you’re unfamiliar with the méthode champenoise, make time for the 30-minute tour, which takes you past the fermenting tanks and the bustling bottling line and into the dark caves brimming with rack after rack of fermenting wine. See p. 122.
Gundlach Bundschu Winery (Sonoma): Gundlach Bundschu is the quintessential Sonoma winery: nonchalant about appear- ance, obsessed with wine. Oenophiles in the know covet GB’s reds, particularly the zinfandels, which are remarkably inexpen- sive for such well-crafted wines. Tours include a trip into the 430-foot cave. GB also has the best picnic grounds in the val- ley. See p. 125.