Unique Tasting Experiences to Wow Your Senses!

Jan. 21, 2019 | by Daryl Burch

With the volume of wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma – over 600, last I checked – many visitors are looking for unique tasting experiences that you can’t get just anywhere. We’ve compiled a short list of the most memorable tasting experiences that are sure to “Wow!” all of your senses.

Sequoia Grove Chef’s Table Experience

OK. You’ve tasted a lot of wines. But have you ever tasted wines prepared with a 5-course luncheon in the round? Ya, me neither!

In September, Innkeeper Kathy and I got to experience a most unique luncheon presented by the resident chefs of Sequoia Grove Vineyards. With a custom menu designed to show off each wine, Chef Britny prepared each dish with precision and care.

We started the event in the vines with a glass of their 2015 Haire Vineyard Chardonnay paired with an Herbed Arancini. Lightly fried in olive oil and spiked with Pecorino, Tarragon, Chives,  Basil Pesto and Pine nuts. This was a nice send off for our palettes while our host introduced us to the 5 Bordeaux clones.

A short stroll later, we were introduced to their new Chef’s Table Events Room, with tables in the round for seating up to 16. The cedar-lined vaulted ceiling along with the custom art touches are a feast for the eyes as well.

Our host steps us through the remaining four courses, explaining Chef’s thoughts behind the flavors paired with each wine. We devoured our courses of Rock Cod on Beluga Lentils paired with their 2014 Tonella Vineyard Cabernet Franc.

Then supped angelic pillows of Ricotta Gnocchi on Veggie Bolognese, Heirloom Tomato Marinara, Roasted Mushrooms, and Shaved Pecorino Romano. This played nicely with the 2014 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

To further tantalize our taste buds, our fourth course was “Duck Three Ways” – expertly roasted duck breast, alongside Duck Confit, and Duck “Chicharron” (quick-fried duck skin) – Holy Wow! On a bed of Toasted Farro with a Currant & Hazelnut Gremolatta, this made the 2013 Henry Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon really sing!

The peice de resistance was the Cabernet Braised Short Rib on Kohlrabi Soubise and Cabernet Demiglace – elegant and rich, but not over the top. What sold Kathy and me was the “pearled” Summer Squash in Brown Butter. Chef confessed to having a few boxes of “severely disfigured” squash in the kitchen. The result was tender, flavorful pearls of veg. The richness and depth of the dish accentuated the layers of flavor in their 2013 Cambium.

The 2-hour spectacle will leave you contently satiated and your palette piqued. And at $95 per person, your wallet won’t be empty. …unless you grab cases of their wines to take home.

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Palmaz Vineyards Cave Winery Tour and Tasting

Nestled inside a hill on the east side of Napa, Palmaz Vineyards is a 4-story, gravity-fed winery that has been quietly making their exquisite wines off-the-beaten path, out of site, most literally. The tour takes you through this amazing facility that is 100% under ground. 

I don’t want to give away too much about the tour, so as to not spoil your amazement. I’ll just say Dr. Palmaz is primarily an inventor (creator of the heart stint). And as such has lent his inquisitive eye to all aspects of the wine making process. This 90-minute tour is like being guided through the Starship Enterprise of wineries. (Yes, I just compared a winery to a space ship.)

After exploring all levels and wonders of this amazing facility, you are seated at a table in one of their cave-offices with floor-to-ceiling windows where your view overlooks the Coombsville AVA and the Napa Country Club.

For the “tasting” portion of this event, you are presented 5 of their signature wines each paired with single-bite hors d’ouvres to match the flavors of the wine. They do a solid job at being creative with their food as well as their wine.

This tour is $100 per person. And so worth the experience!

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Jarvis Estate Cave Winery Tour

The Jarvis Estate Cave Tour is another unique experience in that it is a 45,000 square foot under ground winery, complete with a water fall, stream, and a ballroom with 40 foot ceilings that can host parties up to 600 guests!

This tour is about 90 minutes and is $100 per person. Ask your innkeeper to set up your tasting.

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These are just a couple adventures to be had in Napa Valley. Just remember our innkeepers can make reservations for you for any of these great wine country tasting experiences. And we’ll have the lights on, the fireplace roaring, and some sherry and fresh chocolate chip cookies at the ready to cap off your perfect day of tasting!

-DAB