California Dreaming

Tips for visiting vineyards, from a Roswell pro

I’m not having a glass of wine. I’m having SIX. It’s called a “tasting” and it’s classy. 

I often get asked by friends and customers to help plan their trips to Napa Valley. This is something I love to do. Here are a few tips and tricks I am pleased to pass along.

First, plan ahead! Nearly all wineries require advance reservations. Give yourself plenty of time at each winery and don’t try to pack too many wineries into a day…three is ideal.

Plan each day in a relatively small radius so you don’t spend a lot of time in the car. For instance, focus one day in the southern regions of Carneros, Coombsville and Oak Knoll. Spend another day in the mid-valley regions of Stags Leap, Oakville, and Rutherford. Then plan a third day visiting the northern regions of St. Helena and Calistoga.

Most important: aways get a driver or plan to Uber.

Finally, if you have the time, take a day away from the wineries. Enjoy a scenic hike, visit the hot springs in Calistoga, get a massage at one of the world-class hotels or just wander around downtown Napa, St. Helena or Yountville.

The management team from Deep Roots recently took a trip to Napa Valley. It was so much fun showing them my old stomping grounds while experiencing world-class wines and cuisine! Any time of year is ideal to visit Napa. Spring is full of hope with bud break symbolizing a new vintage. During summer, the vineyards are green and bursting with fruit. Fall is a busy time with harvest underway and an abundance of harvest parties. The winter months are more relaxing with fewer visitors in the Valley. I particularly love this season when mustard is growing between the vines.

Harvest Season in Russian River Valley is my favorite time of year! Located in northern Sonoma County, this area is well known for beautiful vineyards, majestic redwoods and the river that flows through it. This cool climate region experiences morning fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean and warm, sunny afternoons during summer and early fall. Russian River Valley is famous for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and sparkling wines. If you visit, make sure to take a break from wine tasting to hike, float down the river and visit the famous Russian River Brewing to have a cold Pliny.

Be sure to visit the beautiful terrace tasting room at Booker Vineyards in Paso Robles. Paso is the fastest-growing wine region in California with over 300 wineries. Located just a few miles inland from the Central Coast, with miles of lush rolling hills, it has a super laid-back and relaxing vibe. My favorite time to visit Paso is spring and early fall as the summers can get really hot! Paso is famous for Syrah and Rhône-style wines. I particularly enjoy the white Rhône blends being produced in this region. For beer lovers, there are many great craft breweries.

During a recent trip to Santa Barbara, we took a drive up the coast to Santa Ynez Valley. One of our stops was Stolpman Vineyards in Ballard Canyon. We took a ride through the vineyards with Peter Stolpman as he told the story of his family business. This region experiences a wide diurnal swing (temperature change). Foggy mornings can begin at 40 degrees and get as high as 90+ during the afternoon. This is ideal growing conditions for Syrah which is the noble grape in this region, but producers are also making other amazing Rhône and Italian varietals here.

But first, visit Deep Roots Wine Market & Tasting Room
Plum Tree Village, 1055 Canton St, #100 

Dana Gurela owns Deep Roots Wine Market & Tasting Room. She developed a passion for wine after her first visit to Napa in 2009. When Dana and her husband Todd moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012, she turned that passion into an obsession. She went to wine school and began working in wineries. The name Deep Roots recognizes the vines' struggle to survive in the vineyard and the connection to family here in Georgia.

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