We had a great day today. We started with champagne, then had some wine, then olive oil and more wine and finished with beer (at least Don had the beer). Do not worry – this was over the course of 7 hours, so we were fine. Warning for you…not quite history, but the next few paragraphs will have a lot of information on wine making and the wineries, so if it is not your cup of tea, skip to the pictures.
We visited the Beringer Vineyards (first picture) in St. Helena which is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley. The buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first California winery to offer public tours after Prohibition’s repeal. Since it was quite early we did not imbibe, but we did enjoy seeing the winery.
Our next stop was Korbel Winery (makers of the most popular champagne in the U.S.) in Guerenville (next 4 pictures). Korbel was founded in 1882 by three Czechosolovak brothers named Korbel. They came to California for the Gold Rush, but it took three years to sail from New York to San Francisco, so they missed it. They started by making cigar boxes and ultimately made wine and champagne. They are allowed to call their product champagne even though it is not from the Champagne region in France because the original wine maker learned in France and was “blessed” as following the méthode champenoise. They also make brandy and still wines. We left with a bottle of pink champagne and a dessert wine that was described as “pecan pie in a bottle” – which is an accurate description.
For the wine we went to Kendall-Jackson Vineyards Estate in Santa Rosa (last 3 pictures) because Leslie was excited that she got to keep the glass after the tasting. This is a family owned winery started in 1982 by a San Francisco attorney Jess Jackson and his wife Jane Kendall. They have a beautiful garden around their wine tasting building. We spent more time walking around the garden than tasting the wine, but do not worry, we left with a bottle.
Since we were close to Healdsburg we went to a very small winery and olive oil company called DaVero. They were the first people to import olive trees to the US in the 20th Century and sparked California’s olive oil renaissance. They produce what is widely regarded as one the world’s best olive oils. We had to try more wine to try the olive oils – it was a plot. The wines were very good and we got quite the education as we were the only people and the host was a wine maker with a viticulture degree from Cornell.
Our last stop was Bear Republic Brewing Co. in Healdsburg so Don could try one of their local beers. He had a very “hoppy” beer called Racer 5 which Leslie said smelled very much like dirt (she thinks all beer tastes like dirt so that is not surprising).