touring Napa Valley Wineries

Touring Napa Valley Wineries

With almost perfect soil more than 400 wineries throughout Napa Valley, it is no wonder that this is one of the most popular vacations spots in all of California.  Napa allows you to not only see how and where wine is made but most vineyards will allow you to sample a vintage or two.  Tourism has become such a big business here that aside from wine tours you can expect some pretty luxurious accommodation, spa treatments and delightful restaurant with unforgettable meals.

Before You Head to Napa

Before you plan your trip to Napa Valley the most important thing to decide is what time of year you want to take the trip.  Most tourists flock to the region in the summer, be prepared for crowds and long wait times at the various vineyards.  The ideal time to come to Napa is from September to November, you can watch the grapes being harvested and the wine being made.

Choosing the wineries you want to visit

You are going to have to plan ahead of time the wineries that you want to visit.  Here are some of the more popular ones that you should add to your “must see” list.  Start with Beringer Vineyards (founded in 1876 by two German immigrants), Inglenook Winery (Previosly known as Coppola, or Niebaum Coppola), Domaine Chandon (One of themost visited winery in Napa Valley), Robert Mondavi (Napa’s first commercial winery), Castello di Amorosa, C.Sattui Winer, Cakebread (a lesser known but one of the best boutiques in Napa ), Frog’s Leap, St. Supery, Regusci, Hall, Frank Family and so on.   Touring the wineries can be expensive after a bit, you might want to think about going with a group or finding some discount coupons before you book your trip.

Other things to do during your trip

Try the wine train, it is hands down one of the most popular tourist attractions in Napa.  You can travel in a fully furnished dining car serving you some delectable local cuisine and great wine.  Even if you tour the individual wineries later the train gives you a unique perspective on the wine industry in Napa Valley.  While you’re visiting the valley take the opportunity to pamper and indulge yourself in some of the most luxurious spas in the country.  Try a mud bath, pamper yourself with a facial mask and lastly don’t forget a relaxing massage.

The Wine Regions of France

The Wine Regions of France

France, the country where the climate, soil, terrain and grapes have created some of the most incredible wines in the entire world.  The wineries in France are virtually unsurpassed in excellence and wine is deeply entrenched in French culture.

The Wine Regions of France

There are seven acknowledged wine regions in France; Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Provence, the Rhone Valley and the Loire Valley.  Every one of these regions offers up something slightly different.  So let’s have a look at some of the more popular and well known regions and why those wines are so special.

  1. Champagne

That authentic glass of bubbly you use to celebrate the New Year or any other special occasion only comes from this region of France, otherwise you just have sparkling wine.  Located east of Paris this is where you will find the likes of Krug, Dom Perignon and Moet et Chandon.  Several vineyards will allow you to visit and taste the offerings.

  1. Burgundy

Found in the eastern valley there are lots of smaller vineyard that  make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Visit Beaune, where you can find the Burgundy Wine Museum and plenty of wineries will to give you a tour and a taste of their wares.  Well worth the trip.

  1. The Rhone Valley

The Rhone Valley has a warmer climate and it brings delicious varieties of red grapes including Grenache and Viognier.  The wines from the Rhone Valley are more affordable but still incredibly good.  The Upper Rhone has fewer wineries but they are still superb and the hospitality at these vineyards is incredible.  If you are on a wine tour you need to make a stop here.

  1. Bordeaux

Some of the finest wines in the world come from the Bordeaux region, mostly reds that come from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes.  Wines from Bordeaux are described as nuanced and delicate.  Wines from this region include Mouton Rothschild and are on the higher end of price.

Wine is so deeply entrenched in French culture that you will find good wines all across the country, from the Loire Valley to the Champagne region.  There is nothing like sitting in a sidewalk café on the left bank sipping some exquisite French wine and watching the people go by.  Touring some of the wineries throughout the country is like stepping back in time and watching a tradition that goes back to the Roman times.

French Wine and French Food

French Wine and French Food

If you truly want to delight your palate then the combination of French food paired with a decadent French wine is just what you’re looking for.  Pairing wine and food is a bit of an art.  Traditionally we have been told to combine red wine with red meat and white with white that’s a bit out of date.  There is more flexibility today not to mention the varieties of French wines on the market.

To Mirror or to Contrast

Some wines are extremely rich and they pair well with a simple meal without to many overwhelming flavors, the reverse works as well you can have a very rich French meal that requires just a simple wine to complement it.   This is contrasting your food and wine.

When both are light, that is when you can have the food and wine mirror each other.  The thought is that the richness of the wine should be directly proportional to the heaviness of the food.  This is mirroring your wine and food.  Be careful, you could end up buying an expensive bottle of French wine that tastes bitter when you are trying to have a romantic evening.

Dinner with Friends

Having friends over for dinner then do as the French do, begin with a heavier white that blends with a seafood appetizer.  Try some sparkling wines or something that really is mildly flavored.  Then when dinner rolls around try serving a sweeter red wine with the main meal.  Not too sweet, this isn’t dessert but something that blends with the savory flavors of the meal.  There is an old tradition that says you should end the evening with the same color French wine that you began with, ignore this, it only limits your choices and why would you want that.
More casual settings like afternoon get togethers where you are just serving some light snacks, then you want some sparkling wines.  White wine would work far better than a heavy red, but a rose would work too.

Red Wine with Red Meat

The old rule of red wine with red meat is outdated and it was never as strict as most people think.  The color of French wine you choose should depend more on how the meat is cooked and whether is there is a sauce.  For example Chicken Provencal has a rich tomato sauce and red wine works much better.

There are so many varieties of French wine that are delicious, throw convention out the window and find the wines that you love!