I know, I know there are a bajillion other wine regions in the world equally as fabulous as Napa Valley but come on, it's just gorgeous up there! I had the chance to meet with a few really special wineries and hang out at some cool new wine bars. Happy to share my top three!
1) Trinchero Family Estates, St. Helena
It's impossible to overstate the value of having a personal connection anywhere and most especially at a winery. I could not be more effusive in my positive comments about the staff and the whole experience at Trinchero Family Estates. From the beautiful, newly renovated tasting room to the extra touch of a free cheese plate and a bottle of wine, every moment at Trinchero was peaceful, fun, and kind of just like a big sunny, wine hug. Thank you all for your hospitality!
2) Wente Vineyards, Livermore
It surprised me to learn how many of my wine-drinking friends had not heard of Wente Vineyards, especially since this is a brand you can often find in large grocery stories. I can only chock it up to the fact that this remarkable place is in Livermore, not Napa or Sonoma, and so it requires making a whole separate trip to go visit it. They are in the midst of their amazing summer concert series featuring names like Diana Krall and Alanis Morisette. I had the chance to meet with the President of Wente, Amy Hoopes, who was incredibly gracious, arranging a full tasting even though the tasting room was shut at the time I was there. This vineyard has a lot of history, and there was a lot of synergy between their philosophy and ours. Both unassuming and dedicated to the importance of specificity, Wente crafts wines that represent the five generations of family history and a true sense of dedication to learning what their customers want.
3) The Saint, St. Helena
Open only a month when I stopped in, you'd have thought this wine bar had been around for decades. The two gentlemen behind the bar seemed so at ease in the space – one of them told me it was his first day on the job but I would never have known that – and it felt almost like an English country manor of sorts. Previously a bank, the space was cavernous, in a good way, with the original vault door a slightly imposing though beautiful decorative addition. I really appreciated that their wine list wandered beyond the region in which it's situated. I went for a South African Chenin Blanc, but I could have made a veritable trip around the world had I had the time. The only thing I'd encourage them to do is quickly update the website with their wine menu so that you can see their wonderful selections!