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Napa Valley Wine Tour

Napa Valley Wine Tour: Vineyards in the Napa Valley

For serious wine lovers, a Napa Valley wine tour becomes almost a pilgrammage. You can drive up and down the Silverado Trail and tick off the famous names in wine production as you pass their gates and vineyards. Because there are so many, however, you must plan your visit carefully. Here, you’ll find some of the best Napa wineries to visit.

Long gone are the days when you could pop into a winery and sample their wines for free. If you want to visit a particular winery, reserve to guarantee your spot. Some do accept walk-ins, however. Since each winery has different rules and options, make sure you visit web pages to scope out what you want to do. Some offer wine experiences, often with food, while others allow you to belly up to the tasting bar. Regardless, expect to pay for your tasting.

Note: Because of the pandemic, call ahead to make sure your planned stops are open. Websites are updated as rules change.

Best Winery for High-End Cabernet: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Most Beautiful Setting: Artesa

Best Winery You Haven’t Heard About: Bell Wine Cellars

Visit for Sparking Wine: Domaine Chandon

If You Love White Wine: Cakebread Cellars

Most Interesting Property: The Hess Collection

The One Everyone Talks About: Castello di Amorosa

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Archives Life in the Time of Coronavirus Travel

Finger Lakes Wine Tour

Finger Lakes Wine Tour: Tasting at Ravines Wine Cellars, overlooking Keuka Lake
Finger Lakes Wine Tour: Ravines Wine Cellars, overlooking Keuka Lake

With the coronavirus still raging, my husband and I decided to plan a Finger Lakes Wine Tour in upstate New York. We did not live in a banned state, and we could drive there in a few hours. Besides, we liked the bookend to our last out-of-state trip before the shutdown, to Napa Valley. With social distancing and mask-wearing in effect, the trip provided a low-key, relatively safe, and fun deviation from our routine.

Although the region focuses on white wines made from riesling and gewurtztraminer grapes, other varieties and styles tasted quite good. We tasted a few reds, but while they were perfectly enjoyable, they didn’t meet our admittedly high standards for red wine.

Best Overall Experience: Boundary Breaks Vineyard

Worst Overall Experience: Dr. Konstantin Frank

Tasting Room Most Closely Connected to Wine Making: Hermann J. Wiemer

Most Knowledgeable Service: Wagner Vineyards

Most Intimate Tasting: Tower Tasting at Heron Hill

Biggest Surprise: Keuka Spring Vineyards

Because tastings cost less and are less formal (also less informative) than those in California, we were able to visit many wineries a day. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of the best wineries in the Finger Lakes.

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Archives Travel

Best Things to Do in Sydney, Australia

Best Things to Do in Sydney: view of the city from the Sydney Opera House.
Best Things to Do in Sydney: view of the city from the Sydney Opera House.

When trying to plan the best things to do in Sydney, I found that I had to re-vamp my expectations of visiting an international city. Yes, Sydney has culture and, yes, Sydney has history; however, unlike European cities, you won’t find yourself steeped in the past. Instead, you end up embracing the now.

Most surprising: how the climate allows for outdoor activities, year round.

Best activity for families: visiting the Tarango Zoo

Most iconic sight: the Sydney Opera House

Best walk to get away from the bustle of the city: the Royal Botanical Gardens

Best restaurants for foodies: Silvester’s and CafĂ© Sydney