This is a subject very close to my heart ... wine. Whenever we travel, I am always looking for interesting wineries that have the following credentials:
1. They make good wine
2. They do comprehensive tastings at a fair price
3. They do food ... preferably a nice lunch
4. They are in a scenic location
On our annual USA visit, I would like to be sure that I have one scheduled ... so, if you have any recommendations, please add them.
At the moment, my favorite (note the US spelling ) is the Williamsburg Winery in Virginia. However, I am happy to check-out any others.
Your recommendations please.
I have mentioned it before but Tobin James, located on CA 46 in Paso Robles has got to be my favorite:
Tasting is free always
Chef roams the place with tasty appertizers for free
Wines from 11 to 150 USD a bottle. Reserves (60 and up) are amazing.
Highest alcohol content of wines on the planet courtesy of their long growing season.
My favorite is "5" a blend of five grapes that retails for $55 a bottle and is worth a lot more than that.
Every one of the 50 US states hasd a winery, at least one. One of the greeat things about wine is that grapes can be grown locally, or imported from elsewhere, but it is the skill of the winemaker that produces an excellent wine. Mike Grigch once told me that teh winemaking trade is an agricultural one, but the blending and aging is a magical tranformation of a simple fruit into an excellent vintage. He's right.
Guys ... thanks for those suggestions. I'll make sure that Tobin James is on our schedule. I was going to do Montelena a few years back (especially after having read the "judgement of Paris" ... I don't think that the French have ever forgiven Spurrier! However, they do like to charge a lot for the tastings.
I think that you have hit on both a plus and a minus on that last post, SSSS. Yup, there are loads of wineries in the USA and that's my problem. I am always tempted to stop in one when passing, but some are nice but not great. I really would like to focus on the great.
If you watched the movie "Sideways," you caught a glimpse of Tobin's saloon like tasting room. Also if Tobey or Lance are there (co-owners) give them a shout out for me! We are one of their select (24,000 member) wine club, the James Gang. No shipping for CA residents, and eight bottles every six months (my HDL is very good thanks mainly to them) for arounf $150 a shipment.
Whilst we get some very good wines in the UK (from outside the UK, of course, most or ours are naff), we struggle to get the better / specialist wines from the USA. Things have improved over the last few years but our local Wine Society only has 11 US reds available. They stock huge volumes from France, though. They are highly regarded and won the 'Direct Wine Merchant of the Year' award this year.
A couple of years ago, I tried getting a case of Twisted Oak shipped to the UK, but they didn't have an export licence? So, I tried getting them to ship it to Hilton Head, where we were going to be on vacation ... they couldn't ship to SC. We eventually managed to agree a location where they could ship it ... Williamsburg, VA. The Marriott staff at Ford Colony were great and held it for our arrival. Unfortunately, my wife was none too pleased to find that we were transporting it back to the UK with us. I tried drinking a few bottles to lighten the load, but then filled the gap with Williamsburg wine.
You guys are definitely lucky to have so many good wineries.
Sleeper - I have no financial interest but know great wine & service when I see it!
I joined so that I can customers for lunch etc.
Ponte Winery is located in the heart of the Temecula Wine Valley. Surrounded
by 300 acres of mature vineyards and by views of rolling hills, we are a short
drive from most of Southern California.
We have farmed our vineyards since 1984, opened our winery in 2003 and have
become the benchmark for great service among Temecula wineries. Our motto is "If
you like it, it's good wine"™ and we invite you to enjoy a day in the country
and come Temecula wine tasting at Ponte.
Vop ... that looks an excellent recommendation, thanks. We shall be staying on Newport Coast in January and Temecula looks within easy driving distance. I'll visit Ponte when we are there.
After Ponte, which ones would you recommend? ... looks like there are many in the Valley.
Unfortunately, we never made it to Ponte. My wife spotted the Mission at San Juan Capistrano on the way to Ponte and we stopped there ... by the time we had completed our visit, it was too late to head for Ponte. The MVCI at Newport Coast was great, so we plan another visit ... this time I'll blindfold my wife