Winery Adventure: Schramsberg Vineyards, Calistoga
“There are few tasting experiences, even in the Napa Valley, that rival the one at Calistoga’s Schramsberg Vineyards, a historic estate tucked into the densely forested slopes of Diamond Mountain, home to the oldest hillside vineyards in the valley. The Victorian house, the restored barn, the candlelit caves and that world-class bubbly are unparalleled.
“Wear comfortable shoes, because the majority of your 75-minute tour will take place on foot. During the tour, a knowledgeable guide shares the rich history of Schramsberg and its 125-year-old caves, which were dug by Chinese laborers in the late 1800s and house as many as 2.7 million bottles, which age two to 10 years before release. Bring a sweater, too. It’s gorgeous but chilly in there.
“You’ll learn the classic method of producing sparkling wine and end with a tasting of Schramsberg wines while learning the incredible role the Domaine has played in world history. The Blanc de Blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 ‘Toast to Peace’ with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai, and ever since, Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official state functions by every U.S. presidential administration.
“The details: a 75-minute educational cave tour and tasting of four to five wines with a group of 12-14; reservations required. Want more? Sign up for Camp Schramsberg, a three-day, hands-on sparkling wine camp that include tastings, meals, riddling lessons, tours, seminars and a sabering session.
“The sips: The 2010 Blanc de Blancs is crisp with aromas of green apple and lemon tart, while the 2009 Blanc de Noirs, at 87 percent pinot noir, is ripe and concentrated with a long finish. Our favorite remains the 2009 Brut Rose for its complexity and dense red fruit aromas. Truly royal.”
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