Napa, Sonoma and Alexander Valley my favorite Wineries |  Napa and Sonoma Valley, California |  Haven for those who love and enjoy fantastic Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Gris During my first visit to the wine country in the United States, thanks to the expert help and guidance of Linda Viviani and her staff, I managed to visit some of the most amazing wineries and vineyards in the Valley of Napa and Sonoma. This pre/post a fantastic time and stay in San Francisco. I have done wine routes and countries all over the world, from Argentina and Chile to Iran, but I have to say that I was very impressed by the generosity of the wineries we visited and the welcoming even at those small boutique private venues where their own owner greeted us for lunch or drinks. Of course nothing would have been the same without Linda Viviani, expert in the area and member of the Virtuoso Network. Some of my favorites were: DAY 01/ Honig Vineyard and Winery + Round Pond Estate + Sabina + Del Dotto VineyardDAY 02/ Lancaster + Chalk Hill Estate.
Honig Vineyard and Winery. Located in the area of Rutherford. Their tastings feature four wines: Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. (open by appointment only, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm). The cost is $10.00/person. Sustainability is a holistic way of looking at their entire business. A way to do well while doing good. Michael Honig helped to write the Code of Sustainable Practices for the Wine Institute and was instrumental in developing the first sustainable certification for California wineries. Honig in German, means Honey. Honey is surprisingly like wine, and like wine, honey’s flavor is a reflection of the plants where the pollen originated. (
Round Post Estate. Located in the acclaimed Rutherford region of Napa Valley, California, Round Pond is a family-owned and operated estate designed around our world-class vineyards, gardens, and orchards. In an area renowned for the depth and complexity of its wines, the extraordinary artisan gourmet olive oils, vinegars, and limited-production Cabernet Sauvignon wines produced from their family estate reflecting their family’s dedication to crafting the finest specialty food items while working to preserve the natural integrity of this esteemed property. We did the AL FRESCO Lunch/Tasting and between the wines, food and views… was an experience to be shared and recommended. All lunches are by appointment only and available at 12:30pm Monday-Saturday, May-October. Please allow 2 hours for this experience.  $55 per club member, $65 per non-club member.  (
Sabina Vineyards. Located in St. Helena .Sabina Vineyards produces two Cabernet Sauvignons from two different sub-appellations within the Napa Valley. Each wine is crafted to reflect its distinctly different origins. The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on slopes surrounding the Sabina Winery located in St. Helena and the Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend from two expressive vineyards – one from the mountains and the other from a 25-year old valley floor vineyard – located in the Oakville region. We spent a lovely lunch with Susan Sabin – owner where she not only introduced us to Alejandro the winemaker, the winery and art spread all over the vineyard, but also shared the intimacy of her own house. Private tours on a very limited basis, by appointment only. (

Del Dotto Vineyards. The new Del Dotto Estate Winery and Caves on our Estate in St. Helena. The new Caves are lined with Italian marble and ancient tiles. The Venetian chandeliers and mosaic marble floors will bring us back full circle to our family’s origin of Venice, Italy. A must is to do the CAVE Experience, USD 60 per person including a Barrel Experience. An important note, have a car waiting for you at the exit. We tried an average of 17 wines during our visit. I have done a more extensive post on my visit to Del Dotto Vineyard which you can read at (
Lancaster Estate. I have to say that the next two vineyards were my absolute favorites. When I was on the car driving for almost and hour and a half, I was thinking to myself, what are we doing, I came to see NAPA and now you are taking me almost back to San Francisco to Alexander Valley. Well Carlos just SHUT UP. !!!!! I was way wrong. Thank you Linda Viviani. Winery construction was completed in 2001 with the excavation of more than 9,000 square feet of caves. Carved deep into the heart of No Name hill, cellar operations and aging take place under naturally regulated temperatures and humidity. A niche was carved out of the cave’s northern wall to create an underground tasting room, with access reserved for members of the Lancaster Estate Wine Guild. Situated on the narrow and less-traveled roads of southern Alexander Valley, Lancaster Estate recalls the bucolic essence of wine country’s past. The lush composition of our agrarian setting, the harmony between our winery and its surroundings, and the sanctuary of our caves all have to be experienced first hand. We were lucky to have our own Wine and Cheese Private Pairing class hosted by one of their Member and Guest Experience team, you will enjoy local artisan cheeses selected by their winemaker to highlight their four current releases wines. USD 35 per person. (

Chalk Hill  Estate. Chalk Hill is a ruggedly beautiful 1,477 acre estate. Surrounded by heritage oak woodlands and natural riparian streams, a scant 350 vineyard acres meander— a patchwork of 60 different small vineyards, each dedicated to producing distinctive wines of elegance and power. They offer a variety of ways to experience Chalk Hill Estate, but we took the Estate Luncheon Tour, 2 1/2 hours, USD 175 per person. Enjoy a luncheon with friends and family at Chalk Hill Estate. Your experience will begin with a driving tour around the estate. You will then arrive at the Pavilion – a magnificent conservatory offering panoramic views of the Chalk Hill valley. There you will enjoy a decadent meal expertly paired with Chalk Hill wines along with many fresh foods from the culinary garden, prepared by Executive Chef, Didier Ageorges. This is a delightful wine country experience. Available by appointment Monday through Friday. (

> For those interested there will be a OUT IN THE VINEYARD Gay Wine Weekend in celebration of the Pride Month, to benefit the Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network. (June 17th/19th 2011). Contact me for more information. CM

(*) For more information or to book a private tour of the Wineries and Vineyards with full access to them like I did, by the expert hand of Linda Viviani please or call me at Cel. 646.460.6045 | Tel. 212.399.6161 | email @ | You may also follow me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER