Tour the makers of California's best bubblies
An articulate guide covers every aspect of the process in memorable terms; videos give you close-ups of things you otherwise can’t see, like harvesting and the madly foaming surface of a fermenting tank of wine; and cool props show up too, like a wine bottle tacked sideways to the wall that lets you peer at the yeast settled there, flavoring the wine.
Tours are $25 plus tax for adults over 21 (yes, nondrinkers too) and $10 plus tax for those under 21.
This is a place where time seems to have stopped.
And the tour is free.
Pictured: Tanks and barrels at Mumm Napa
Iron Horse, for its rustic freestanding bar fashioned from long planks, where you taste wine under an open roof right next to undulating vineyards.
Schramsberg Vineyards, for the lush beauty of its mountain foliage and the way its dark redwood buildings disappear into the forest.
Mumm Napa A sibling to the French Mumm. Great introduction to sparkling wine, and a fine photo gallery. Free tour, tasting from $6; near Rutherford; mummnapa.com or 800/686-6272.
Schramsberg Vineyards The Davies family pioneered top- quality sparkling wine in Napa. Tour (by appointment only) from $35, including tasting; in Calistoga; schramsberg.com or 800/877-3623.Pictured: The 2001 Schramsberg Vineyard's "J. Schram" ($100), a great special occasion wine.
Domaine Chandon Lush grounds, noisy tasting room. A sister company to Moët & Chandon. Tour and tasting from $25; in Yountville; chandon.com or 888/242-6366.
Iron Horse Vineyards Wine country at its elegant-rustic best. Free tour (by appointment only), tasting from $10; near Sebastopol; ironhorsevineyards.com or 707/887-1507.
Korbel Champagne Cellars The oldest continuously producing sparkling-wine house in California, founded in 1882 by three brothers from Bohemia. Free tour and tasting; in Guerneville; korbel.com or 800/656-7235.