MIX IT UP There’s a new wine-based aperitif on the block.
Sonoma’s Jardesca, just launched by Marin-based master mixologist Duggan McDonnell, is a balanced blend
of sweet and dry white wines (including Viognier from
Alexander Valley) and an eau de vie — double distilled
and brightened with 10 different botanicals, among them
California bay, pink peppercorn and grapefruit. Drink it
chilled, over ice, with a sprig of your herb of choice —
mint, basil, lemon verbena or thyme works well. S. T.
1 Raymond Vineyards (Saint Helena) Enjoy a barrel tasting program that lets
you experience the difference
between wines still maturing in
tightly grained French oak and
make side-by-side comparisons
with their finished counterparts
from earlier vintages. Barrel
tastings are available daily. Tours
are $30 per person. 707.963.3141,
2 Ladera Vineyards (Ang win) The new barrel
tasting experience includes a tour
of the 1886 ghost winery (a winery
built bet ween 1860 and 1900) and
then an in-depth barrel education,
wherein you’ll learn what role
the different barrel types play in
enhancing the overall flavor and
structure of wine. After the tour,
enjoy tasting four current-release
wines. Available daily by appointment. Tours are $45 per person.
3Del Dotto Vineyards (St. Helena/Napa) The Estate
Tour and Barrel Tasting program
in the St. Helena location’s Venetian
Cave lets guests taste eight wines
directly from the barrel to better
appreciate the differences bet ween
wines produced in oak from different forests, including side-by-side
comparisons. After exiting the
caves, enjoy house-made nibbles.
Barrel tastings are available
daily. Tours are $60 per person.
To really gain an understanding of the essentials of winemaking, ditch the tasting room for the
barrel room. Here are three places where you can learn what happens after the harvest. S. T.
TOP DIGS Travel +
Leisure — the magazine widely accepted
as the authority on just
that — has awarded
two wine country
lodging options top
honors. Auberge du
Soleil (top) in Rutherford comes in at No.
12 (just under Marin’s
Cavallo Point Lodge
at No. 11), and Yountville’s Bardessono Hotel and Spa (bottom)
grabs the No. 21 spot
in T+L’s annual readers’ choice awards for
top resorts in the continental United States.