Above: Durant & Booth
DURANT & BOOTH
With the Dapper Reserve Tasting at Durant & Booth, you’ll taste five limited-production wines, including some rare selections. Each wine is paired with local cheeses and charcuterie from Oakville Grocery.
The tiny wine tasting room is fairly new, having opened just a year ago, but it occupies one of the oldest buildings in Napa, the home of Frederick Durant. Durant and his partner Joseph Booth owned the neighboring Oakville Grocery and offered travelers “refreshments” during Prohibition. Sheriff Jack “The Dapper Deputy” Steckter conveniently turned a blind eye to these questionable activities and so his legend lives on with the tasting named after him.
In addition, Durant & Booth offers art classes inspired by its marbled wine labels. Cost: $40 per person (for the tasting)
Pro Tip: very few wineries offer free tastings, and those that do are not worth your time.
CONN CREEK WINERY
Though this experience isn’t new, it’s not well-known and is a must-do for any self-respecting Cabernet lover. Book the Barrel Blending Experience and you get to play winemaker. In this one-of-a-kind seminar, you taste barrel samples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varietals before blending your own bottle to take home. Should you really fall in love with your wine-making skills, you can order a case of your blend. Cost: $125 per person
It’s no mistake that this chateau has a very French feel. The winery was founded by Claude Taittinger of the famed Champagne-making family. Though the building is not historic (you would never know), it was inspired by the classic eighteenth- century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France—home of Champagne Taittinger.
Tour the grounds, dine on the patio or take a peek at the most fabulous factory ever—the one that bottles the bubbly. Book the Ultimate Chips and Dip Experience and you will get a table with a view and, if you’re lucky, Olga will wait on you and teach you about brut and late disgorged Champagne (Champagne that has been aged longer than usual). The winery is famous for its Le Rêve Blanc de Blanc. You can taste this and if you ask nicely, they’ll even pour you a few extra glasses.
This experience is designed for two guests. It includes three tastes of Domaine Carneros sparkling wines paired by Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, accompanied with gourmet potato chips (they tasted like regular potato chips to me, but when you put caviar on top, who cares?), toast points and crème fraîche. Pro tip: Don’t book any other tastings after this one, trust us. Cost: $350 for two people
HERE TO THERE?
YOU EITHER DRIVE YOURSELF (NOT FUN) OR HIRE A DRIVER. OPTIONS RANGE FROM HIRING A FULLY INSURED DRIVER TO SQUIRE YOU AROUND IN YOUR RENTAL CAR FOR ABOUT $50 PER HOUR TO BOOKING A BESPOKE TOUR IN A JAGUAR COMPLETE WITH PICNIC LUNCH AND AN EXPERT TOUR GUIDE WHO WILL CONSTRUCT THE PERFECT ITINERARY FOR YOU.