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Wine Tasting in Yountville

Boasting some of the best wineries and restaurants in America, tourists flock to the Napa Valley to experience its rustic elegance. Among the small towns that comprise the valley, Yountville is quickly gaining the reputation as one of the premier destinations.

Founded by George Yount in 1836, Yountville is one of Napa’s most storied towns. Its rich history has provided the building blocks for the success of this bustling community. The combination of fine dining and premium wineries make Yountville a hallmark of the Napa Valley.

The most vital landmark in Yountville is also one of the oldest wineries in the Napa Valley. Built in 1870 by San Francisco native Gottlieb Groezinger, Vintage 1870 is now one of the main attractions in Yountville. Today, Vintage 1870 is the central part of an upscale shopping center, which includes high end clothing, galleries, jewelry, fine dining and wine tasting. The Vintage 1870 shopping center is truly a playground for those who delight in the finer things in life.

The selection of fine dining in Yountville can prove irresistible to even the most reserved of individuals. At the top of the fine dining chain in Yountville is Thomas Keller’s French Laundry. The French Laundry is regarded by many in the restaurant industry as the best in America. In fact, it was really designated, “the best restaurant in the world,” by Restaurant Magazine in 2003.

If you are able to get yourself on the three month waiting list, be prepared take out a second mortgage to pay the bill. Aside from the price, dining at the French Laundry is pleasure of all senses. The ambiance is unbeatable, the service is impeccable, and the food is a masterpiece of culinary perfection.

Although the French Laundry is the crux of Yountville’s restaurant community, there are many others that have brilliant food and service for reasonable prices. Of these, the crème de la crème include Bouchon, Brix Restaurant, Napa Valley Grille, Hurley’s, Bocconcini Cantinetta, Bistro Jeanty, and the Restaurant at Domaine Chandon.

Even by Napa Valley standards, the fine dining of Yountville is unbeatable. But wine is what makes this small town go round. The restaurants in Yountville would not be as successful as they are without the influx of tourists that the wineries bring in. As one of the first regions in the Napa Valley to produce wine, Yountville is a fantastic place to take wine tours.

Located in the heart of the Napa Valley, Yountville enjoys a long, methodical growing season. The weather is moderated by the coastal fog that creeps along the valley floor from the San Pablo Bay. By mid day, the fog burns off, leaving the vineyards exposed to the vibrant rays of the sun. This sun expose makes Yountville well suited for growing Bordeaux varietals.

It is no surprise that the majority of acreage planted in Yountville is Cabernet Sauvignon. These grapes produce restrained Cabs that are not only approachable in their youth, but are brilliant when paired with food. They can typically be loved earlier than their northern counterparts.

When deciding which wineries to visit in Yountville, it is vital to prioritize your trip around what you want to experience. In my opinion, you cannot go incorrect with Cliff Lede Winery. A narrow strip of land just off Highway 29 is home to the winery. The gorgeous views from their vineyards pale in comparison to their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you do not get a chance to visit this up and coming winery, there are several others that produce a wide variety of premium quality wines. Among these, Domaine Chandon produces fine sparkling wines in the tradition of Ancient World Champagne houses. Their property includes a gorgeous vineyard, chateau style winery and restaurant.

Domaine Chandon features a wide array of tours to please all of your senses. Their services ranges from their complementary tour to the all inclusive “Epicurean Experience,” which includes chef selected food and wine pairings along with dinner reservations at their restaurant after the tour.

The tours at Domaine Chandon epitomize the town of Yountville, and provide the visitor the opportunity to delight in the finer aspects of wine and food. With the number of quality restaurants and wineries in such a small region, Yountville should be at the top of your list when visiting the Napa Valley.

Ben Bicais lives in the Napa Valley and is the author of several articles about Yountville Wineries



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