As far as this LA Travel Diva Examiner is concerned any US winery is worth sampling, especially those that produce big buttery Chardonnays. But of course there are other choices and TripAdvisor® , the world's largest travel site*, released its choices for top 10 winery tours in the United States today in an emailed press release. The survey was based on the reviews and opinions from the site’s readers and reviewers and include:
- Pride Mountain Vineyards , St. Helena, California—I can dig it. This is definitely one of Napa’s top brands. The winery is a great site perched 2,000 feet above the Valley floor on 235-acres of grape-rich land. After visiting the production facility, the 90-minute experience concludes in the 23,000 square-foot cave where each barrel is aged to perfection. A TripAdvisor traveler commented, "Our tour was informative, relaxed, and fun!" Tours operate six days a week with a $15 fee; advance reservations required.
- Hendry Ranch Wines , Napa, California—Another Diva approved pick, this family-owned and run 114-acre ranch is about 10 miles northwest of Napa. It offers a two and a half hour tour led by owner George Hendry, who gives an in-depth lesson into the art and science behind the bottle. "Hendry Vineyards was a fantastically informative experience," commented a TripAdvisor traveler. Tours operate daily with a $40 fee; advance reservations required.
- Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard , Peconic, New York—Not familiar with this one but sounds interesting. It’s located on the North Fork of Long Island where aspiring viticulturists are treated to an intimate tour. You can learn the unique growing conditions of Long Island grapes before sampling the aromatic beverages including merlot, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay. A TripAdvisor traveler said, "I learned more on this tour than in any other I have taken." Tours are offered Saturday and Sunday with a $25 fee; advance reservations required.
- Frog's Leap Winery , Rutherford, California—Ah love this organic winery which is smack in the heart of the Napa Valley where it turns out early 60,000 cases of good grapes each year. During a 90-minute tour you are offered four different varietals to sip while strolling through the gardens and the historic Red Barn production facility. One TripAdvisor traveler commented, "This was a fantastic tour learning about the history of the winery and their sustainable practices." Tours are offered Monday – Friday with a $20 fee; advance reservations required.
- O'Brien Estate Winery , Napa, California—News to me, but sounds dreamy. This is a 40-acre estate where you get to taste romantically-labeled wines as you watch hot air balloons drift over the distant hills. An hour-long tour takes you the winemaking process, starting beside the leafy vines and concluding in the French oak barrel storage room. A TripAdvisor traveler noted, "I've never had so much fun on a winery tour before." Tours are offered daily with a $20 fee; advance reservations required.
- Jordan Vineyard & Winery , Healdsburg, California—Ah Jordan, one of the Diva’s fave raves, been there done that. It’s located in the verdant and gorgeous Alexander Valley and offers 90-minute tours of and tastes of Bordeaux-style wines. Guests will explore the cobblestone terrace overlooking the vineyards before enjoying a seated tasting with chef-paired hors d'oeuvres. "From the first sip on the terrace to the pairings in the private tasting room, everything was first class," commented a TripAdvisor traveler. Tours are offered Monday – Saturday and select Sundays for a $30 fee; advance reservations required.
- The Benziger Family Winery , Glen Ellen, California—Situated at the base of Sonoma Mountain, this family-run winery individually harvests 29 blocks of vines to create custom blends. Visitors can choose between a tram-style or an in-depth walking tour where they will learn about the winery's organic and sustainable practices. A TripAdvisor traveler commented, "If you only did one tour on your trip, this would be a good one." Tours are offered daily for a fee of $20 to $40; reservations are recommended but not required.
- Wollersheim Winery , Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin—Never been but worth a try. This 150-year-old facility is located 30 miles northwest of Madison and offers hour-long tours for $5.
- Jarvis Estate , Napa, California—Great get. Tunneled into the Vaca Mountains it offers a breathtaking 45,000 square-foot cave system. The awesome architecture is highlighted throughout a 90-minute tour, which includes a stop at the cave's underground, cascading waterfall. A TripAdvisor traveler commented, "We toured Jarvis on our last day in Napa, and it was spectacular!" Tours are offered daily for a $60 fee; advance reservations required.
- Schramsberg Vineyard , Calistoga, California—Not a big fan of its bubbly as your Diva’s a Champagne snob (French, that is). However many sparkling wine drinkers love the stuff and a trip to the historic, 125-year-old estate is worth the ride especially to see the hand-dug caves nestled into the rugged Diamond Mountains. The tour details the classic process of producing sparkling wine before concluding with a candlelit tasting of four bubbly blends. One TripAdvisor traveler commented, "We loved the history of the winery and the tour of the caves was so interesting. A must see!" Tours are offered daily for a $50 fee; advance reservations required.
Web Site: http://www.tripadvisor.com
Sabastiani in Sonoma didn't make the TripAdvisor cut, but the Diva thinks it should have, check out the video.