Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sideways: Napa Edition

Cuvaison Winery Patio

In planning my trip to Napa numerous people told me they only go to Sonoma to avoid the massive crowds of tourists and families. However, we didn't have much of a choice as to where we went because we were attending a rehearsal dinner and wedding. Below are my favorite places we visited in Napa, and I do believe there are ways to avoid the crazy crowds, such as:

- Mainly go to wineries that are appointment only
- Avoid the really large, well-known wineries
- Go to wineries off the main streets


Swanson is a French-New Orleans inspired winery with a fun decor. Our host was very nice and greeted us as we entered. The courtyard had a bench where we were able to enjoy the wines outside.

My Favorite: 2005 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon, $75 per bottle (only available for direct purchase)

Darioush is a Persian estate that is both a tasting room, event hall and home. The tastings were the most expensive we found, but they didn't scrimp on the experience. It was like having a concierge, with a detailed book of restaurants, Voss water and pistachios available while you taste.

My Favorite: 2006 Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, $80 per bottle (available in numerous fine restaurants)

Cuvaison is in the Carneros region, which is closer to the water and cooler. This is the ideal region for Pinot Noir in Napa. It is a modern building set amongst rolling hills and has an amazing patio and view.

My Favorite: 2006 Block F5 Pinot Noir, $45 per bottle (only available for direct purchase)

Photography by Stephanie Littlefield