Harvest 2012 in Napa and Sonoma!

Lauren hard at work!

Greetings from sunny California!  Our very own Lauren has spent the last week taking in all that harvest has to offer in Napa and Sonoma.  Reynold’s Family Winery put her to work for a few days staining barrels and helping with the harvest, but she’s snuck in a little wine tasting and eating as well.  After all, it’s research and quality control, right?

Crush is a magical time, with winemakers and vineyard managers watching and waiting for just the right time to call for all hands on deck to harvest.  The smell in the air is like nothing else, especially in the Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king.  All that deep, dark fruit being crushed and fermented means that the scent of dark berries like blueberries and blackberries permeates the air, event through your car’s vents!

The Napa Valley, and increasingly Sonoma, has become synonymous with great food, and this gorgeous plate from Angele in downtown Napa shows exactly why!

A plate worthy of a closeup at Angele in downtown Napa

We’ve always been impressed with the consistent high quality of Elizabeth Spencer wines, and they seem to be keeping it up!

“quality control” at Elizabeth Spencer

At Cade on beautiful Howell Mountain, the grapes are just coming in.  Look at that stately barrel room!  What a fantastic place to taste.

 
Honig is another winery that has long had dedicated fans in the store, and Lauren even got a chance to taste their rose.  It may not quite feel like rose weather here, but the temperatures in Napa have been toasty!

  

The quaint, yet artsy town of Healdsburg in Sonoma is home to world-class restaurants as well as Iron Horse, one of our favorite producers of domestic sparkling wine.  Their tasting room is really more like a tasting shack, as it’s open to the outside.  All you have to do is belly up to the rustic wooden bar, grab a glass, and turn around to take in the breathtaking view of their estate vineyards that roll out beneath you.  It’s a must-see if you’re in the area.

 
Iron Horse also gave an informative tour that helps explain the traditional Champagne method for making sparkling wine.  When you’re looking at diagrams in a book, it can be a little baffling, but seeing the equipment helps the process become clear.

 

Girard was another highlight, and Lauren assures us that the Petite Sirah and Russian River Chardonnay are as good as ever!

What are your favorite stops in Napa and Sonoma?  Do you have to have a big, juicy burger at Gott’s Roadside?  Do you prefer the main drag on Highway 29, or do you like to sleuth out unknown spots?  Let us know!

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