|Explore North America United States California--Northern Napa Valley|
California's Napa Valley produces perhaps the best wines made in America, and in some cases the world. Certain to fulfill your epicurean desires, a visit to the Napa Valley offers not only fine wine but fine dining and fine art. Almost all of the wineries we visited displayed paintings or sculptures, which was an added bonus to the already comfortable ambiance of the area. Our visit was in mid-August when the vines were full with nearly ripe grapes that would soon be harvested and become the excellent wines for which the Napa Valley is renowned.
Although most wine is made from grapes grown on much younger vines, this 100-year-old vine has been preserved at the historic Trefethen winery.
Trefethen winery is one of Napa Valley's oldest, and features the only remaining wooden "gravity flow" system. Upon exiting the winery grounds an idyllic view of nearly endless vineyards reminds you that despite Napa's high-society appeal, it is but humble farmland.
Our next stop was in Yountville at Domain Chandon, famed for its sparkling wines. Abounding with unusual sculpture art throughout the grounds, we encountered this mushroom garden,
Another of the first-rate wineries along CA 29 is Cakebread Cellars in the Oakville/Rutherford area. This pastoral setting is adjacent to the winery.
We had a fabulous tour guide that explained some of the more esoteric aspects of winemaking. Inside the beautiful wood-paneled winery we saw these large stainless steel tanks where the initial fermentation process takes place.
Not far from our last stop, a turn off the main road affords a first look at the impressive Robert Mondavi Winery.
Yet another fine producer, Franciscan, boasts the largest fountain we saw at any of the wineries.
The grounds at Raymond in St. Helena were colorfully decorated with flowers at the entrance,
V. Sattui was perhaps the most picturesque of the wineries we visited. This rustic building was charming from any angle, but particularly the Ivy-covered front.
While at Freemark Abbey we caught a glimpse of this view from the tasting room.
This marble sculpture was one of several seen at Peju Province winery in St. Helena.
The owners of the Clos Pegase winery are avid art collectors. This statue of Bacchus (associated with the gods of wine in Greek and Roman mythology) was along the walkway of the inner courtyard.
At the northern extremes of Napa Valley is the town of Calistoga, where the area around one of only three "Old Faithful" geysers offers more apparent clues to the geology of Napa Valley. Here the rocks and hills bear the evidence of ancient volcanic activity. To the east lie the Palisades range and Mt. St. Helena, to the west the Mayacamas hide Sonoma Valley, another region renowned for wine production. Old Faithful has earned its name by spewing steaming hot water from underground at regular intervals of approximately 40 minutes.
article published 2/12/2002