Trip Tips: Soaking up wine in California's Napa Valley

Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:15am EST
 
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By Mary Milliken

ST. HELENA, California (Reuters) - When a pair of wines - a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay - from California's Napa Valley won the 1976 Paris Tasting over some of France's most famous wines, the area was home to just a few dozen wineries.

Today, there are some 500, owned by multigenerational families, big corporations, Silicon Valley millionaires, celebrities and everyday people, drawn by the allure of winemaking and the beauty of a valley located just 45 miles north of San Francisco.

It may be a booming business, but Napa is still a relaxing destination for those seeking both the luxurious and the laid-back. The small towns that dot Highway 29 are charming, the people are kind, the food is outstanding, and the wine, well, the wine is as good as they say.

Here are tips for getting the most out of a trip to Napa Valley from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.

A WINE EDUCATION

Napa Valley really is all about the wine. But don't let that intimidate you.

No one really wants to go to school while on vacation, but a wine course can go a long way to helping you get the most out of this destination. You can also impress your friends and one-up your boss back home.

The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena offers a variety of classes, from a two-hour "Tasting Wine Like a Pro" for $95 to a five-day "Wine Lovers Boot Camp" for $2,100. You will taste dozens of very good wines each day, studying color, bouquet and body over and over. The spit bucket will be your best friend. (here)   Continued...

 
A worker carries a container while picking grapes at sunrise at a vineyard at Napa Valley winery Cakebread Cellars, during the wine harvest season in Rutherford, California September 12, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith