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Traveler’s Story: My Very First Wine Tasting Was In Napa Valley

A sommelier dedicates years to studying the notes and aromas of wines. Europe has dominated the wine conversation for centuries. However, Napa Valley is a formidable contender. It’s the premiere wine region in California. In the early days, Napa Valley was home to only a few wineries. Now, there are more than 400, most of which are family-owned.

Napa Valley is only 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. There were blue skies over Beringer, the oldest, consistently operating winery in California. This historic estate offers tours and tastings for all group sizes. Our wine-tasting adventure was on the veranda of Rhine House.

Photo Credit: Spencer Jones
Photo credit: Spencer Jones

Chardonnay, Merlot and three varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon were featured. We paired these with a charcuterie board of delicious cheeses, meats and fruits. Our wine specialist, Jesus, infused the experience with fun and laughter. He explained how the wines were produced without the monotonous verbiage. He regaled us with stories of his years as a competitive flamenco dancer in Spain.

If you want to enjoy wine like a professional, Visit Napa Valley has suggestions. They advise people to start of by observing the color and clarity. Then, swirl the glass to release the aromas and sniff to prepare your palate. Next, sip and enjoy the complexities. Finally, spit into a “dump bucket,” if you don’t want to get inebriated.

Napa Valley is a worthwhile day trip if you’re based in Northern California. It’s just an hour’s drive from San Francisco, and the rolling hills and vineyards are picturesque. The climate recalls the Mediterranean, and its celebrated grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. If you don’t touch a drop of wine, take advantage of the fine dining, spas and outdoor activities.

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