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Finding a good (or better yet), a Great wine!

Posted in: Tips, Tours, Wine Club

Inaugural Wine Blog

Old Vine Zin

Finding a good (or better yet), a Great wine!

When touring Wine Country, you’re probably looking for a great wine in addition to experiencing all the wonderful landscapes and architecture the region has to offer.

Your driver and tour guide with Boutique Wine Tours will no doubt recommend a plethora of palate-pleasing selections based on your preferences, and your tasting destinations will present several opportunities to sample these and more which will ultimately contribute toward expanding your appreciation of fine wine.

But there are also a few facts you can learn from just a bit of research to give you some additional knowledge that will make the results of your ongoing searches even more enjoyable… and they are:


The year the grapes were harvested and crushed to make the wine. 2007 for instance was thought by many to be the Vintage of the Decade in California with 2008 not far behind.

And my rule for when to drink most California wines is 5-8 years from vintage for Reds and 1-3 years for Whites. Of course there are always exceptions, and when you consider the remaining two factors you’ll understand why.


The location(s) and viticultural area the where the grapes were grown.For example, Napa is typically known best for Cabernet Sauvignon while the Russian River and Anderson Valleys excel at Pinot Noir. And let’s not forget the Carneros region which is the source for some outstanding Chardonnay fruit.

Producer and/or (Consulting) Winemaker

And I say “and/or” Winemaker because there are some incredible wineries with incredible Winemakers that also make (sometimes lower cost) wines for other wineries as well their own private lable(s)

Take Winemaker Jeff Gaffner for instance… he’s been around wine since he was a young boy and makes wine at multiple wineries including a second label (STEPHANIE) for HESTAN, a top producer of Napa Cabs, his own label SAXON BROWN, with some outstanding Zinfandel and currently RAM’S GATE near Sears Point Sonoma Raceway where he’s vinifying some incredible Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

And there are many more “Celebrity” winemakers who do double duty and more and I urge you to seek them out.

I think you’ll see if you do just a little homework regarding your passion for wine… you’ll be glad you did!

And here’s a wine recommendation from a recent drinking experience:

St. Francis 2008 Merlot Sonoma County $19.95/b Smooth and elegant with classic flavors of cherry, chocolate and plum (I found it on sale for $9.95/b and bought cases!)

Just a delicious wine from the 2008 vintage, drinking very well in my 5-8 year window From grapes grown in the Sonoma and Russian River Valley vineyards Vinified by Tom Mackey, a Merlot Master, who left St. Francis in 2011.
(See, my trio of facts can actually work)!

Cheers until next time!

Ric Romano
Oenophile, Wine Country Photographer, Wine Consultant

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Wine Country Fun Facts

Posted in: Tips, Wine Club
Wine Country Fun Facts
  1. Wine Country is open to visitors 365 days a year.  The peak tourist season is between May and October, and you will find that Saturday and Sunday are the most crowded days of the week.
  2. Don’t underestimate the big impact of Sonoma County wineries as they can offer a full variety of large and boutique properties that rival their Napa Valley neighbors.
  3. Looking for fewer crowds? The best time to visit the Napa Valley or Sonoma Wine Country is during the Off-Season months between November and April. Wineries have special events scheduled during the winter and spring.
  4. Is your vacation to winecountry scheduled for the summer months? You can still avoid the congestion of the winecountry traffic by planning your tour during the midweek. Boutique Wine Tours offers competitive tour prices all year round, and you get to tour all the best wineries without the large crowds.
  5. Book your hotel, wine tours, restaurant reservations, hot air balloon rides, spas and golf outings at least a month or two in advance depending on the season to ensure a fun trip.  For suggestions on great places to stay and play  just ask our Boutique Wine Tours Team when you call to book your tour!
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