6 Great Wine Lists

Where to go and what to buy off six great wine lists

 


With harvest truly getting underway in northern California, up to now it's mostly been early whites and grapes for roses and sparkling wines, masses of enotourists are descending on the northern counties to enjoy them in their glory. While many of us think of wine country as a tourist destination, the truth of the matter is that it is an agricultural/industrial area and these next two months are its peak season.
 
We as tourists like to visit during the harvest for myriad reasons; the energy with everyone moving around determinedly, the smells of grapes and fermenting wine in the air, the romance of the season, the changing colors, and as I've been talking about recently the changing weather and our corresponding dining habits which lets us enjoy the red wines we love so much to their fullest! There is no doubt that this is the best time to be a tourist in northern California's wine country, now it's time to find out where we can find all those great wines to enjoy!

OK, I'm going to cheat a bit here, noting that while we all love Napa and Sonoma there are some other regions producing interesting wine further to the north. The thing is though that the enotourism business has yet to be fully develop in the farther north, though for better or worse it shall. That doesn't mean that a trip to Oregon's or Washington's wine country isn't warranted, it just means that if you go you'll have fewer choices in  Portland and if you’re in Washington, well you have Canlis in Seattle so why would you want to go anywhere else?
 
What follows are obviously personal preferences, though a great value is a great value, like it or not. Menu and wine selections were made from what was displayed September 4, 2013 when this article was researched and should be accurate or at least indicative of what each establishment offers.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,002

    Impressive article. I can use this for my next trip to the west coast. I would like to see more articles like this.

    Sep 09, 2013 at 1:12 PM


  • Just a "small" question: Why did you not mention the Shenandoah Valley (Amador County), just a hop & a skip from Napa and Sonoma??? However, if your intent is to inform persons about good wine regions, etc, why give so much space to Napa and Sonoma that EVERYONE already knows about??? [Personally, I literally grew up with Napa wines in the 50's & 60's. . .However, when they began reading their press clippings, I moved to the Sonoma vintners. . .And, when THEY became a bit too big for their britches, I left them and "discovered" the Amador wineries in the 80's and 90's and I still exploring their fine wines. . .easily the equal of the Napas and Sonomas; and, without the traffic jams; the "elitism;" and, the general commercialism that prevails in Napa; Sonoma; and, now the Central Coast (by virtue of "Sideways"). . .

    And, I find a "friendliness" that is the way it USED to be in Napa and Sonoma! [And, in case, anyone wonders, I have NO ties to any of the wineries in Amador other than I REALLY enjoy the wines; and, like the people I encounter there. . .And, I like to share a "good thing" <smile>

    Sep 09, 2013 at 3:45 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,048

    This is not an article about wine regions, it's an article about wine lists. If you want to share restaurant wine lists that are really outstanding in Amador county, we'd love to add them to the list of restaurants in Napa, Sonoma, Seattle, and the Willamatte Valley that were included in the article.

    Thanks Zinfandel 1. I'll try and keep them coming. And frankly can't wait for my next visits to some of these places!

    Sep 09, 2013 at 5:10 PM


  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,970

    Well, GdP, we cannot wait for your next visit out this way, either!

    Someone will always be disappointed that their fave wine region was left out. Amador is not such a small hop, skip and jump and, keeping in mind that Snooth has a national and international readership, proximity to a city with an airport is one of many considerations that also goes into these articles, I'm sure. One could also make the argument that the Santa Cruz Mountains (Ridge, Rhys, Villa Mount Eden, plus Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos and Village Inn in Woodside) deserve mention, or Monterey/Santa Lucia Highlands, if it's wine country you want.

    As someone who grew up here and traipsed to Napa as a kid behind his wine-enthusiast parents, I agree things have changed. But this is where people go and that's the focus of the article. That said, I've had dinners with winemakers and assistants from Napa wineries, and still have pleasant visits to tasting rooms--you just have to seek out the independents like Smith Madrone, Bell, Chappellet, and the like. As for Sonoma, yes, it's getting more corporatized, but not so much that I'd tell people to stay away. Nope, I'd help them find a good place for a meal and a glass of wine!

    That said, I'm going to be in Napa for a conference on Columbus Day weekend, so I will definitely put this article's recommendations to work.

    Sep 09, 2013 at 7:55 PM


  • Snooth User: Jeff Nott
    589275 10

    One of the most impressive wine lists I have ever come across is at Café Riacci in Palo Alto, CA. When last I was there, I asked for a particular bottle on their list. The server then asked "What year would you like?" I asked " What do you have?" Her response "Every year between 1997 and 2010". Apparently this is the same for most of the wines they carry and it is an extensive list. And the food is fantastic!

    Sep 09, 2013 at 8:50 PM


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