Steve and I joke about the restaurant we'll open someday. We disagree on whether or not each table will be enshrouded by curtains (his idea) and whether there will be only outdoor seating (mine), but on wines? Wines we see more or less eye to eye on. We've compiled a little list of our favorite wines which will be The Definitive Wine List at Our Restaurant. And since I have no, nada, zip desire to actually ever open a restaurant, maybe this list would be better entitled Wines to Cellar (someday). It's very possible that a lot of these vintages are no longer available, but it's still a good reflection of our favorite spots. Note the 100% California bias on this list. We heart California wine--and we've been lucky ducks to live in the backyard of these places for the last year. That, and we're pretty clueless about Italian, French or the other big players in the wine industry :) something we hope to remedy in the future, trip by trip.
One more thing...a lot of times we liked what was poured for us at a tasting and would purchase a bottle, only to find a few weeks/months (months? ha! not likely) later that it wasn't as special as we remembered from that day. This list are the ones that were as special, or even exceeded our expectations. But please oh please, don't take this as any kind of pretentious opinion--we're not the type of peeps who sit there analyzing and whispering about hints of bramblebush and clove (I actually sat next to a foursome doing this once--I don't even know what bramblebush is, much less what it smells like...!). This is just what we like, nothing more.
...& undoubtedly I would recommend all of these for wine tasting in the Napa or Sonoma or Anderson Valleys. All of them do a bang up job and you will leave happy.
Clos de Val - 1996 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. *Go on weekends for the reserve tasting.
Cosentino - Secret Clone. Trust me, worth the separate tasting fee.
Pride Mountain Vineyards - 2005 Merlot. Pride is one of those wineries we can't get enough of. All of their swill is super yummy.
Patz & Hall - 2006 Jenkins Ranch Pinot Noir
Hartford Court - 2006 Stone Cote Vineyard Chardonnay
Smith-Madrone - 2007 Napa Valley Riesling
Hartford - 2006 Russian River Valley Zinfandel
Cain - 2004 Cain Concept 'The Benchland'
Roederer Estate - Anderson Valley Brut Rose (sparkling)
Tin Barn - 2004 Sonoma Coast Syrah
Toulouse - 2006 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Viader - 2002 "V" Red Table wine, Napa Valley (blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Smith-Madrone - 2007 Chardonnay
Bella - 2006 Two Patch Zinfandel, Alexander Valley
Bella - Late Harvest Zinfandel
Hartford - 2006 Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel, Russian River Valley
Chapellet - 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Failla - 2006 Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Pride Mountain Vineyards - 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Ridge - 2006 Lytton Springs Vineyard Zinfandel
Rochioli - 2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Viader - 2004 Napa Valley Syrah
Hartwell - 2004 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, NV Stags Leap District
Quivira - 2006 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (great value)
Olabisi - 2005 Suisun Valley Syrah (great value)
Olabisi - 2007 Carneros Chardonnay (great value)
Dutton Goldfield - 2006 Dutton Ranch/Sanchietti Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Nickel & Nickel - 2006 Harris Vineyard Merlot, Oakville, Napa Valley
Merry Edwards - 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Merry Edwards - 2008 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Prager Port Works- it's not a day of wine tasting without a stop at the Prager brothers' dark & $1-lined place! All their ports are wonderful but we keep going back to the Tomas. Chocolatey perfection.
Paul Hobbs - 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard, Oakville, NV (decidedly not a value-priced bottle but it's knee-buckling unbelievably incredible).