St. Helena Wine Tasting Itinerary

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DSC02806, Beringer Vineyards, Napa Valley, Cal...

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By Courtney Cochran

ST.HELENA, CA – Wine may be what brings us to wine country, but it’s not the only show going on when it comes to things to do amongst the vines.  Read on for an itinerary focused on activities in and around St. Helena that promise more than your average swirling and sipping experience – one we’re sure you’ll remember long after the day’s done.

History Lesson: Beringer 
Start you day north of St. Helena at Napa Valley’s oldest continuously operating winery, Beringer.  Designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, the 19th Century Rhine House (fashioned after the family’s impressive old German home at Mainz-on-the-Rhine, natch) encompasses the tasting room and is a marvel of ornate Victorian architecture.  Choose from one of three tours (30 minutes to 90 minutes in length, including a family tour) to learn about the spot’s vibrant winemaking history, or explore the estate’s beautifully landscaped grounds on your own with a glass of wine in hand.
(707) 963-4812 * 2000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574
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Picnic Chic: V. Sattui
After your history lesson at Beringer, head just a few minutes south to enjoy an alfresco dining experience at Napa favorite V. Sattui.   Encompassing an impressive Italian marketplace and deli alongside its tasting room, V. Sattui pairs superb wines with 2 ½ acres of tree-shaded grounds for picnicking.  Visitors in the spring, summer and fall can look forward to the likes of wood-fired pizzas, BBQ fare and a mozzarella bar on-site, as well as specialty oil, vinegar and mustard sampling on weekends and holidays.  
Bonus après-lunch activity: Work off your meal with a gratis self-guided tour of the winery’s stone buildings, underground cellars and museum.  
 (707) 963-7774 * 1111 White Lane St. Helena, CA 94574

Merryvale 1

Image by pvsbond via Flickr

Seminar Studies: Merryvale
Hop in your car after lunch for the brief drive to Merryvale, another historic spot that was the first winery built in Napa after Prohibition.  Hopefully you’ve saved room for snacking, because you won’t want to miss the spot’s renowned weekend Wine & Cheese Experience.  Let sommelier Shawn Dougherty show you his stuff as he walks you through a pairing of Merryvale wines and five local artisan cheeses, highlighting the affinity of the cheeses with specific varietals.  And don’t forget to consult the winery’s Calendar of Events for not-to-be-missed quarterly Barrel Tastings, which feature food pairings and live entertainment throughout the afternoon matched with Merryvale’s award-winning wines ‘thieved’ from French oak barrels.
(707) 963-7777 * 1000 Main Street St. Helena, CA 94574

Ghost Tour: Hall Winery
Another short drive brings you to Hall Winery, a St. Helena powerhouse gaining renown for its rich, complex Cabernets as well as its soon-to-be-completed, $100 million Frank Gehry-designed winery (how ’bout them apples?).  The new facility – slated to open this year – incorporates the site’s historic 1885 winery, founded by a New England sea captain, as the focal point of its design.  Known as a “ghost winery” because of its colorful pre-Prohibition past, Hall offers a popular “ghost tour” consisting of barrel tasting in its circa-1885 winery and a guided tasting of current releases in the Architectural Gallery, home to an exhibit of Gehry’s models and blueprints for the new winery.  Cool.
(707) 967-2620 * 401 St. Helena Highway South St. Helena, CA 94574
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