Friday, April 3, 2009
I've probably been to Napa a half dozen times over the years and Sonoma another few times. Whenever I put together an itinerary, I spend way too much time thinking about it. Similarly as when faced with a massive wine list at a restaurant, I want to take in all the options and make the perfect decision.
It's tough making use of anecdotal advice in this space. A lot of people have a great tasting experience to tell you about, but often the experience was great because of who they were with, who they know at the winery, or a connection they have that enabled them to get in. Further complicating things is that everyone has different criteria as to what they're looking for in a wine tasting experience.
Here's what I'm looking for in a winery visit:
- The winery should be small, but they need to be big enough to have a tasting room. If they don't have a license to pour their wines, it can be a great experience but it won't be a tasting room that anyone can visit.
- It's great when you can meet with the head person in charge. For me, nothing beats the experience of discussing a wine with the person who understands every aspect of the brand.
- I like catching rising stars better than established producers. For me, they're a more interesting story.
- I like value.
- I'd like to see the wines highly rated by Wine Spectator. It's not that I need permission from Spectator to like a wine, but it's nice to have a 3rd party assessment of the wines that I can refer to prior to visiting.
- They should have wine available for purchase. Some wineries are so mailing-list-only that there's really nothing you can taste that you can purchase.
- I recently visited Cliff Lede Vineyards.
- I also visited Lewelling Vineyards, which I would put on par with Buehler. An excellent small vineyard to visit in Napa.
What are you looking for in a tasting experience? What are some of your favorite tasting rooms?