Insider Insights: Five Unique Tasting Experiences

Sarah Fowler, Winemaker at Peju

As winemaker at Peju Napa Valley in Rutherford, Sara Fowler works at ground zero in both culture and terroir of the wine country. In 2007, she led the winery’s efforts to achieve organic certification in the Rutherford Vineyard and she’s currently overseeing sustainable farming in its Persephone and Wappo Vineyards, with the ultimate goal of going organic there. Here, she shares some of her own favorite tasting experiences in the Napa Valley.

1. Domaine Carneros: Sparkling flights and caviar tasting. “I love sparkling wines and Domaine Carneros has crafted a wonderful tasting that brings together two of my favorite things – caviar and bubbles! The Sparkling Wine Sampler offers an Estate Brut Cuvée, a Blanc de Noir, a Brut Rosé, and a Verméil Demi-Sec. And the Flight of Caviar features three varieties of small-batch, American-raised American sturgeon caviar with potato chips, toast points and Cowgirl Creamery crème fraiche.”

2. Liana Estates: Picnic and Bocce. “Like most valley residents, I love bocce, and play on a team in the St. Helena league. It’s the perfect sport, because you can play while still holding a glass of wine! The new Liana Estates winery – launched in late 2016 – offers a wine and culinary experience with a picnic basket, a chilled bottle of wine, a bocce court, and gorgeous Carneros views.”

3. Peju Province Winery: Chef’s food pairing. “At Peju, we have an incredible executive chef, Alex Espinoza, who uses only local organic ingredients and has an awesome palate for crafting small bites that wonderfully complement our wines. You can learn about wine and food pairings, or even get hands-on in the Peju kitchen with the chef.”

4. Conn Creek Winery: Blending seminar. “One of my favorite things about being a winemaker is blending. The synergistic relationship when two wines are brought together is truly incredible. Conn Creek offers a ‘Barrel Blending Experience’ with an overview of Napa Valley AVAs by a wine educator, a guided barrel tasting, tips on blending techniques, a bottle of your own custom blend, and a tasting of current releases – all with views of the estate’s gardens and the Vaca Mountain Range beyond.”

5. Schramsberg Vineyards: A tour of caves with crazy mold and sparkling wine tasting. “Did I mention I love bubbles? Schramsberg Vineyards is the granddaddy of local sparkling wine producers. A tour of its moldy, 125-year-old caves will introduce you to the classic method of producing sparkling wine and end with a tasting of wines from Schramsberg and Davies Vineyards.”

Kirsten Mickelwait is a St. Helena-based writer who has lived and raised her family in the Napa Valley for nearly 20 years.

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