When relatives and friends are headed to town, it’s likely that you will be called on to play tour guide. Do you have your itinerary in hand?
If the answer is no, remember that you live in paradise, with classy sparklers in your own backyard that rival the quality of French Champagne. Share a slice of the good life by taking your loved ones on a Wine Country sparkling tour.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 sparkling wine houses in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties and have pinpointed the key “sense of place” for each so you’ll have the best experience possible while on the property.
Your guests will be knocking on your door soon, so there’s no time to spare. Peruse the list and make your plan.
We start the loop in Sebastopol and work our way east through Sonoma and Napa, than head north through the Napa Valley and west to Healdsburg and Guerneville. You can start at any point along the way, and if you’d like to add two destination wineries in Mendocino County, plan a sidetrip to Philo in the beautiful Anderson Valley.
Iron Horse Vineyards
Sense of Place — The boutique feel of this family operation makes the experience especially charming. “You can look all the way across Sonoma County to Mt. St. Helena, with the vineyards spilling out at your feet,” said partner/CEO Joy Sterling.
Not-to-be-missed — The mini-dosage tasting will show you how sparklers are finished by adding additional wine. As Sterling explains, “It’s amazing how less than one percent of the contents of the bottle can so dramatically change the style of the wines … much like seasoning in cooking.”
Boost Your Wine IQ — The 2000 Brut LD (Late Disgorged) has been aging for 14 years, and you can get a taste of this elegant, refined sparkler in the tasting room.
ironhorsevineyards.com, 9786 Ross Station Road, Sebastopol, (707) 887-1507.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
Sense of Place — The architecture of this winery was inspired by a classic Catalan farmhouse, revealing Gloria Ferrer’s lineage with the Ferrer family of Spain. The property offers views of vineyards and of San Pablo Bay.
Not-to-be-Missed — The remodeled Visitors Center is the starting point for tours that feature the underground caves as well as food and wine pairing.
Boost Your Wine IQ — In partnership with UC Davis, Gloria Ferrer spearheaded the first and most definitive clonal research trials on pinot noir and chardonnay clones from Champagne, France. You can learn more about this on the tour.
gloriaferrer.com, 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, (707) 933-1917.
Napa/Sonoma County Line
Sense of Place — This house of bubbly is an ornate French chateau with gorgeous views that reach deep into the Carneros region. On chilly days there’s usually a fire in the tasting room.
Not-to-be-Missed — The elegant style of the sparklers are what head winemaker Eileen Crane likens to “Audrey Hepburn in a little black dress.”
Boost Your Wine IQ — The flagship sparkler here is Le Reve, which means “The Dream” in French.
domaincarneros.com, 1240 Duhig Road, just off Highway 12 between Napa and Sonoma, (707) 257-0101.
Mumm’s historic wooden buildings are nestled into the hillside among native California oaks. The view from the back patio is of vineyards and the Mayacamas Mountains. The goal was for the winery to blend into the surroundings