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Warming Up in Wine Country

Wine country in winter doesn't have to be frosty and unwelcoming


So what if everyone says skiing is THE thing to do this time of year? You’re an individual. You chart your own course. And so, naturally, you hit the tasting rooms while your buddies are hitting the slopes. After all, it’s practically as cold in wine country as it is in Tahoe.

Problem is, you look a little strange in your North Face parka and fleece cap while sidling up to the wine bar.

So, how do you deal with the elements when tasting during the cool months? It’s simple: go where the heat is. Read on for a list of the coziest spots to warm up in wine country, whether it be over hot toddies in Healdsburg or a roaring bonfire at a hidden away but welcoming mountain resort.

So you can keep on tasting, but lose the marshmallow man jacket.

This old house
Escape the elements with a tasting of some of Beringer Vineyard’s top-flight wines at the historic Rhine House. The elaborate 17-room mansion features breathtaking stained-glass windows and interior wood paneling and may just be the coziest tasting setting in Napa Valley. Guests are encouraged to explore adjacent rooms of the house - which dates to 1884 - while sipping on the good stuff. Linger in the grand old house as long as you like; stay long enough and you may just forget about the chill outside.
Beringer Vineyards, 2000 Main Street, St. Helena, CA (707) 963-8989

Hot toddies in Healdsburg
Cocktail guru Scott Beattie over at Cyrus Restaurant (proud owner of two Michelin stars!) in Healdsburg mixes a mean Hot Buttered Rum when the temperature drops in Sonoma County. Made using – as usual – only the best ingredients, Beattie’s Buttered Rum is not only piping hot, it’s also given added depth by the addition of local Charbay Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum. I can already feel the temperature rising.
Cyrus, 29 North Street, Healdsburg, CA (707) 433-3311

Bonfire of the winos
Okay, so it’s not exactly a bonfire, but the fireplace at the bar at Auberge du Soleil can generate some serious heat during the winter months. Take a break from tasting room hopping and indulge in an Irish coffee and soul-warming sit beside the fire at this premier wine country resort. With sweeping views of the Napa Valley below and award-winning cuisine, the spot might just lure you in for a warm meal as well.
Auberge du Soleil, 180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, CA (707) 963-1211

An artful escape
There’s nothing like a gorgeous drive to get your mind off the chill. Crank up the heater and head west from Highway 29 outside Napa to the Hess Collection, a gorgeous winery and gallery located about 15 minutes up the hill. With its celebrated art collection and frequent wine and food pairing seminars, there’s a wealth of indoor activity to be had at Hess that’ll have you warmed up in no time. Best yet, it’s all housed in a warmly lit space that’s the ultimate antidote to the chill outdoors. As Paris would say, that’s hot.
The Hess Collection, 4411 Redwood Road Napa, CA (707) 244-1144