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Highlights of Napa Valley Tasting Tour


 I had been to Napa Valley before, but in early September I “really” went to Napa.

Wow.  What an amazing place.  I had no idea.

My earlier trips were related to business or visits with friends.  This time we went to “taste” wine and that we did.  From morning to night.


What I didn’t know was that almost five million people a year visit this narrow but scenic area north of San Francisco with the same intention.  There are over 400 hundred wineries there so finding good stuff to sip is not a problem.

I learned some other things.

First, there are wine tastings and then there are WINE TASTINGS.  We went with friends and they set it all up.  The Wine Tastings in capital letters are private tastings, set up ahead of time where one is in a small group and  you really take it seriously.  We found several times that the guests around the table owned or ran restaurants or wine shops and they knew wine.

Mostly I kept my mouth shut, except to sip the lovely wines,  of course, and  enjoyed the conversation and the venues.


 Let’s talk about the venues.  We went to some that were fabulous.  I loved the Shafer Vineyards where a hip contemporary tasting room, expansive view of the vineyards and captivating art captured my attention.   Could move in there.

 And Hess Selects, where the Swiss billionaire owner built a three story very cool gallery to house his extensive art collections, including the famous Burning Typewriter.  Tastings could be enjoyed under a grape arbor near a wonderful pond.   I headed for the eye level pond to try to capture the gold fish and blooms.



Champagne was sipped at Mumms, outdoors but then we meandered on in to view Ansel Adams originals.  I also loved Joseph Phelps Winery, where we sat on  a high terrace overlooking the vineyards, watching the small trucks and people beginning the fall harvest.

 I was truly amazed with the Castello di Amorosa……. Our friends, said, “You are going to love this.  We’r e going to a Castle for a lunch time food and wine pairing.”  I looked it up and it boasted something like 107 rooms.  Man, my little design blogger head started spinning. I’m visualizing all  those rooms–fabrics, furniture and art.  Whew.  I’m going to be in heaven.


Well, imagine my surprise to find that 87 o f those underground “rooms” contained,

ta da, barrels of wine.  Of course.  Duh.

I did enjoy meandering through them, seeing the huge banquet style party/tasting room and even the painting on the doors in the Ladies Room.    They  offer a “Proposal Packages” for young couples.  And I laughed at the tower—built to look like Sonoma County  had attacked and torn down part of it.  How funny.


We got on their Club list and are now getting invited to their parties–like one coming up for Halloween.  Hey, at some point we might go…..could be a hoot.  As Jack says,  “It’s the best fake thing I’ve ever toured.”  If you don’t have time to go to Italy, check  out The Castle di Amorosa.


Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Oct 19, 2012 Reply

    Nice piece Susan. Pictures are great!

    • posted by
      Oct 20, 2012 Reply

      Thanks, Georgia. It was a great experience.

  2. posted by
    Oct 20, 2012 Reply

    Sue, great job showing that Napa Valley has MUCH more to offer than just standing around a bar tasting wine!

    • posted by
      Oct 21, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Kathy, We loved touring Napa with you and Bob. Great experience. Thank you.

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