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annies@amsinclv.com

Napa Valley: Wineries, Hotels, Dining & Shopping


ON A NAPA MISSION

My mission is to bring Napa to Las Vegas. Join me as I give you some of the highlights of this wonderful and nearby piece of paradise.

In the last year, I have visited over two dozen small, mostly family-owned vineyards, including Aonair Wine, Alpha Omega, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Fontinella Vineyards, O’Brien Estate and Porter Family Vineyards. I’ve also spent time visiting the larger, better-known wineries such as Pine Ridge, Beringer and Hess. Large or small, each of these wineries showcase their own unique wines. Some are surrounded by lush gardens and vineyards and few even have their own incredible caves.

As a larger winery, the Hess family art collection spreads through three levels adjacent to the tasting room, overlooking the vineyards. This gallery is definitely worth seeing and the road trip to get there is breathtaking.

The smaller wineries also have their charms. The crowds are limited and you receive personal attention from a wine host. On a lucky day, you could meet the wine maker or even the owner. While I was there, I met Charles Hendricks, wine maker for James Cole Winery and four other wineries including his own, Hope & Grace Wines. My friend bought a large bottle of wine for his son’s wedding, which Hendricks graciously autographed. Altogether, it was a very memorable moment and gave us a chance to chat about wine and wineries with a very knowledgeable person.

Another one of Napa’ best-kept secrets is a winery just four miles from the downtown riverfront. The Porter Family Vineyards is located in the Coombsville region of Napa with a fantastic view of the valley. This awe-inspiring family estate includes 17,000 square feet of caves, which is used to host tours and tastings and to do their wine making on the premises. Visit the website at porterfamilyvineyards.com to preview this outstanding winery and put it on your must- see list when you visit Napa.

As you plan your trip, pick up a guidebook once you get there or email me at annies@amsinclv.com for suggestion or two.

NAPA VALLEY WINE EXCURSIONS

Many of the most remarkable winery experiences– barrel tastings, tours in the vineyards, and meeting with the winemakers and winery owners are hidden gems off the beaten path, nestled in the Napa Valley roads and hillsides.

Napa Valley Wine Excursions owner Paul Bailey offers a unique wine tour experience for you that only a Napa native can provide. Constant and unending attention to detail coupled with first-hand knowledge of wine country; Bailey provides unforgettable tastings and tours you simply may not stumble upon on your own. Bailey takes exceptional pride in providing guests with memorable photos, unique and extraordinary visits to vineyards and wineries.

Don’t hesitate to contact Paul Bailey at: 707.363.1397 or paul@nvwineexcursions.com

THE NAPA RIVER INN

Nestled into the heart of Downtown Napa, the Napa River Inn stands out as an upscale boutique hotel. Surrounded by the valley’s world- renowned vineyards, beautiful scenery, excellent restaurants, and favorable climate, the inn sits snugly along the banks of the Napa River.

Fine dining, shopping, entertainment and relaxing spa treatments are all within walking distance. Hiking, biking, golfing, balloon rides and amazing wineries are all an easy drive.

The Napa River Inn has 66 rooms, many with fireplaces, river views and balconies. It has two restaurants, night club, spa and a gift shop.

Napa River Inn
500 Main St.
Napa, CA 94559
877.251.8500
Napariverinn.com

O’BRIEN ESTATE WINERY

O’Brien Estate Winery owners Bart and Barb O’Brien’s romantic dream came true when they purchased their winery in 2000. The winery and vineyard spans 40 acres with stunning views of the Oak Knoll district. The winery plants Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes, all estate-grown. Grapes are hand-harvested and crushed in small batches and the wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in new French oak barrels. Then, estate winemaker David Yorgensen bottles them with a state- of-the-art Italian bottling system right in the tasting room. The winery welcomes visitors for an unforgettable private tour and tasting of their award-winning wines in their backyard sanctuary.

For more information, visit obrienestate.com.

NAPA GENERAL STORE

Napa General Store has been delivering world- class customer service for over a decade, and it’s no wonder discerning shoppers head to the Napa General Store to see the latest in local art, jewelry, gifts, furniture and home furnishings. They are focused on their clients and giving them a memorable experience. Need help with a special gift? Shipping? Gift-wrapped? Napa General Store provides all of this and more. Located in the historic Napa Mill, Napa General Store is the go to spot for those in pursuit of quality and originality. Shopping daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dining in café 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wine tasting and sales in wine bar 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

540 Main Street
Napa’s Riverfront
Napa, CA 94559
NapaGeneralStore.com
707.259.0762

A GOOD LIFE IN WINEMAKING, 38 YEARS STRONG

Las Vegas Woman magazine is presenting a new series, dedicated specifically to the art and magic of Napa Valley.

When Alison Doran started her career in 1973, she was among the very first women in the industry. Her father owned a winery in Napa’s Alexander Valley and brought in Andre Tcheellistcheff as a consultant. Doran began to work alongside him, and soon they developed a strong connection over their shared commitment to creating fine wines from California grapes. Tcheellistcheff became an important mentor and arranged a life-changing position for Doran as a “cellar rat” in Alsace, France.

When she returned, she earned a degree in fermentation science for the University of California, Davis and began working for the Firestone Vineyard, famous for its estate-bottle wines. She spent several years at Firestone adding to her education and experience, starting as a lab technician and advancing to bottling supervisor, cellar master and, finally, to winemaker. Today, Doran lives on the family vineyard with her husband and two sons and works as a winemaker with a select group of clients just as passionate about fine wines. These include Crane Family Vineyards, Hill Family Estate, Romeo Vineyards and Cellars and her own winery, Hoot Owl Creek.

When she talks about the Napa Valley and its wines, Doran has a few important things to say. She feels strongly that a wine should taste where it’s from. This concept in wines is called terroir and often differentiates the products of small wineries from that of large commercial ones, which must blend grapes from several growers to achieve a uniform and consistent product. As a winemaker for wineries focused on terroir, it is Doran’s task to balance the wine and bring out its best features. She works with the unique flavor profile generated by the interaction of soil and weather, the specific grapes and winemaking technique to create truly distinctive and memorable Napa wines.

Doran also has some advice for people who are interested in learning more about fine wines. She encourages people to come to Napa and visit some of its many wineries. Bring a notebook, write what you like and watch a crush or two. Understanding how a wine you like is made will increase your enjoyment and appreciation of it. Join a tasting group and compare notes. Once you know what you like, consider joining a wine club. Many excellent wines are available through clubs and many
wineries depend on these memberships. Doran also reminds us that you need to allow plenty of time for the great pleasure of becoming educated about the variety of fine wines produced in the Napa Valley.

Over the course of her pioneering career, Doran has seen many changes in the industry, but says the greatest challenge is simply the year-to-year difference in the grapes. “No two years are ever the same and it is experience that really helps. I love the whole process, determining whether to press early or late, the tastings, the fermentation decisions, all of it. To me, the most fun part of what I do is watching the wine unfold and tell me what it wants to be.” For Doran, winemaking is a mixture of art and science that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

“Alison has taught me so much about winemaking. She’s methodical and yet in perfect harmony with Mother Nature. Her grace and patience allow her to produce the best wines from the best grapes year after year,” said Ryan Hill of the Hill Family Estate.

Alison Doran is known as the wine doctor by many in the industry for her ability to create consistently excellent wines.