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WineCountry Holiday Gift Ideas!
For Visitors and Online Shoppers
As the holiday season rapidly approaches, we want to help you get ahead of the shopping curve. Following are some terrific gift ideas for those lucky folks on your holiday shopping list. Some involve wine, some do not, but regardless of whether you will be visiting the wine country before the holidays, here are some useful ideas to help you.
Visit Tasting Rooms
Those special bottles you discover while visiting tasting rooms make great gifts. However, don’t forget to look beyond the bottles! Many tasting rooms are full of unique gift items, things you probably won’t find anywhere else. For instance, Niebaum-Coppola Winery's tasting room and website both offer an incredible array of gift choices. Check out their exclusive Mammarella Pasta line, which includes an Italian Dinner package, complete with wine. Or perhaps consider a delectable Skywalker Ranch Chardonnay for your favorite Star Wars fan? Frequently offered are Artisan olive oils, honeys and salad dressings made according to one-of-a-kind recipes. However, keep your eyes open — the diverse merchandise in tasting rooms often appeals to more visitors than just wine and food aficionados.
If you are visiting the Northern California wine country, we recommend several exceptional shopping centers that offer an eclectic array of marvelous gift items. When in the Napa area, visit Vintage 1870 in Yountville, where the shops are located in a converted historic winery. Downtown Napa, including its mall, is also a great place to shop. In Sonoma County, you can find matchless items in the many boutiques and shops around the Sonoma and Healdsburg Plazas. Here are a couple of uncommon picks in Healdsburg: a large assortment of metal lunchboxes at the Center Street Café & Deli, and artisan crafts at the Farmer’s Market, which runs 9-12 on Saturdays through the end of November.
Gift baskets are a wonderful idea; you can choose varieties from specific types of items you wish to give. At Christie’s Basket Express , the baskets are organized into helpful theme categories, like Italian, Sweets & Treats, Snacks and New Baby. Containing only the finest in Napa Valley gourmet food, wines and specialty items, baskets start at just $20. Another incomparable choice would be a custom basket made by Evelyn of WineStars , who has won Best of Show for Gift Baskets at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair two years running. After consultation, you receive an electronic picture of the basket created from your choices.
Another suggestion is to give the gift of a Wine Club. Shipping quarterly or monthly depending on the winery’s program, your gift will give again and again, usually with an automatic expiration. Of course the recipient must live in a state where shipping wine is legal, but you don’t have to be there! If the person doesn’t love wine, or doesn’t reside in a state to which wine may be shipped, perhaps an artisan cheese club would be the ticket. Check out the distinctive fromage at Cowgirl Creamery , they have several fantastic Cheese Clubs too!
If you have a favorite winery, visit their website. The bigger brands typically offer limited production, vintage select wines. Thus, if you have a friend who loves a particular brand, you may be able to give them something they have never tasted before.
A few of our favorites:
Good luck with your quest for the perfect gifts…and an early wish for Happy Holidays!
Article contributed by Taylor Poff
Editor Pick — 2002 Francis Coppola Director's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Give the Gift of Wine Country all year long!
Available only at the winery or online, this very drinkable wine demonstrates a special focus in Niebaum-Coppola winemaking. Made with select fruit from neighboring Napa vineyards, this wine provides tremendous value. The 100% varietal Cabernet is opaque, yet carries a saturated ruby-garnet color. The wine also offers plush currant flavors, hints of anise and sweet ties to its refined tannins. Comfort food season is here, and this wine is a great match — try it with Beef Bourguignon!
Sutter Home Winery and Tasting Room
Known nationwide for having created the White Zinfandel juggernaut, the offerings from Sutter Home Winery and the Trinchero Family Estates include much more. Conveniently located just south of St. Helena on Highway 29, the Visitor Center might surprise you with its variety of wine, gifts and gourmet foods.
Located in the original Sutter Home Winery, the Center's ambiance emphasizes an expansive history — the winery was founded in 1874, and purchased by the Trinchero Family in 1947. While visiting, enjoy a short stroll through the beautiful gardens surrounding the picturesque 19th Century Victorian family mansion, icon of the brand.
An added benefit to the enjoyment of the renowned Sutter Home White Zinfandel is the Trinchero Family's tremendous commitment in support of Sutter Home for Hope, their Breast Cancer program. A similar wine to recommend is the White Merlot. White Zinfandel is blush colored and softer in flavor as a result of the juice spending less time in contact with the skins after the fruit is crushed. While still somewhat sweet, the Merlot spends a little more time with its skins, developing a somewhat darker color, thickness and richness. The result is a wine with a little more intensity and a dryer finish that is very pleasing.
You will also want to try wines from the Sutter Home Proprietor Series, a line of superior wines available only at the winery or if you join the club. These wines offer richer body and flavors than one typically associates with the brand, but are still in a softer, appealing style. The Pinot Grigio, with its rich flavors, is notable. The Zinfandel and Barbera are made with remarkable fruit from Amador County in the California Sierra Foothills. The spectacular Trinchero Family Wines also offer excellent quality and value.
There are scores of interesting wines offered here, made with different techniques and intensities of flavor. Have you tried something new from the Trinchero Family lately? You should!
Wine Country Featured Destination
Santa Barbara Wine Country — California Wine Country Gem
Just 90 minutes north of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, the remarkable Santa Barbara County wine country begins. In 1962 Pierre Lafond opened the first area winery since prohibition, and today over 50 exceptional wineries offer distict wines with diverse strengths and flavors. Best known for distinctive Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the area includes both cool coastal and warm inland climates, along with a more moderate terroir favored by Rhône varietals like Syrah. A reputation for superior wines and hospitality in this area is building, have you been here lately?
Within Santa Barbara County there are three distinct appellations: Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and the newly designated Santa Rita Hills. In addition, some wineries are conveniently located around the classy seaside city of Santa Barbara. The enticing Los Alamos area between the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valleys is interesting to visit as well.
If you are coming from the south, the city of Santa Barbara deserves your attention first. Summerland Winery, one of the county’s newest wineries, is known for its value-oriented Central Coast line of wines, low production, and single vineyard gems. Santa Barbara Winery is located two blocks from both the beach and from State Street, the city’s premiere shopping district, so there is something for everyone to do while visiting. Along with numerous other Santa Barbara award-winning wines, both dry and sweet late-harvest Rieslings are standouts.
Less than an hour north of Santa Barbara, just off Highway 101, is the La Purisima Wine Tour. Also known as the Lompoc Loop, this is a lovely drive through one of the most unspoiled and scenic areas in the Santa Ynez Valley, and home of the new Santa Rita Hills appellation. Following Santa Rosa Road from Highway 101 and returning on Highway 246 to complete the loop, it includes five appealing wineries. You might also stop to see the historic La Purisima Mission as you follow part of the original El Camino Real, or mission trail of early Spanish California, part of this stunning 34-mile drive.
The loop includes Lafond Winery, where you might taste the 2001 Melville Vineyard Syrah, Double Gold award winner at the California State Fair. Another fascinating stop is Mosby Wines where they produce fine Cal-Italia wines from estate grown fruit, including interesting varietals like Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, Teroldego, and Grappa. A picturesque old Carriage House in the vineyard houses this attractive tasting room.
Discover Winter in the Wine Country
Wine Country Recipe
Brannan Cottage Inn - Apple Oven Pancake
Visit Brannan Cottage Inn and one morning you might be surprised with a delicious, fluffy delight for breakfast — the apple oven pancake. Otherwise, follow the recipe directions below and be your own chef for the day!
Sauté apples, butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; put in two 8"X8" dishes.
Pour batter over apples and bake in 400 º oven ten minutes; remove from oven and add topping; return to oven for 20 minutes. Slice in wedges and garnish with sour cream.
Editor Pick — Patianna 2003 Sauvignon Blanc
Patti Fetzer Burke and her husband Kieran Burke
are producing wine from their Patianna Organic Vineyard, a
126-acre property nestled alongside the Russian River in Mendocino
County. Patianna's inspiration comes from the tenets of biodynamic
farming, the mindfulness of the partners and the traditions
of the Fetzer family. If you have not yet tried this wine —
we recommend that you do! Visit http://www.patianna.com/default.aspx
November 13-14, 2004 – Silver Pass Weekend
Celebrate harvest on the historic Silverado Trail (the "Road Less Traveled"), and discover 13 new-to-you wineries! Each winery will offer free wine tastings, barrel samples, exclusive discounts and food pairings. In addition, a portion of Silver Pass sales will benefit the Child Development Centers of Napa County's School District. Join the fun and contribute to a worthy cause all at the same time.
Participating wineries include: Casa Nuestra Winery & Vineyards, Calistoga Cellars, Andretti Winery, Baldacci Vineyards, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Hagafen Winery, On the Edge Winery, Rustridge Winery, Silver Rose Winery, Summit Lake Winery, Van der Heyeden Winery, William Hill Winery & Zahtila Vineyards. Visit their website to purchase tickets online.
Fee: $30 per person, weekend; $20 Sunday only
December 4-5, 2004 - Holiday in the Vineyards
Celebrate the season by sharing the joy of special wines, crafts, music and more at Holiday in the Vineyards. Hosted by the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, twenty five wineries will open their doors and offer holiday experiences for you and your friends and family. Award-winning wines are offered along with gourmet foods, wrapped gift boxes and delicious holiday treats. Come ring in the season at Livermore Valley Wineries!
Pick — Retzlaff Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2001
What better way to experience the Harvest Season in Napa Valley and Sonoma County than with premier wine from both Robert Mondavi Winery and Kendall Jackson Winery! Begin your day with a Vineyard and Winery tour of Robert Mondavi located right off of Highway 29. Then head over to Kendall Jackson for a reserve tasting.
No day is complete in Napa Valley without sampling some of the finest gourmet cuisine in the country. Greystone Restaurant is an excellent option for either lunch or dinner and features local, seasonal ingredients from the agricultural bounty of California.Top the evening off with the classic Napa Valley Wine Train ride through the scenic countryside of Napa Valley. This culinary adventure will surely delight and be a treat remembered for years to come.
Click here to enter this drawing! (Please note: If you are already subscribed to the newsletter, you are automatically entered in this drawing.)The Winner of this Drawing will be announced on The Winner's Page after December 19, 2004.
(*some restrictions apply)
***No purchase necessary. Must be at least 21 years old to enter. Only one entry per person permitted. Winner will be selected December 19, 2004 by random drawing. Winner will be notified by email. Employees of Freerun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law.