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Unforgettable Winery Experiences

Lake Hennessy from Amizetta Vineyards

One of the best parts of being a Designated Driver is watching our guests enjoy their time visiting wineries that provide unforgettable experiences. This past month has been very busy in Wine Country, as harvest and crush were on in earnest. Guests were able to watch grapes being processed while tasting delicious wines. Although every winery provided our guests with experiences that were exceptional, the following three were really at the top of the list:

Lake Hennessy from Amizetta Vineyards
Amizetta Vineyards – Designed for the ultimate collector of high-elevation Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux Blend wines, this hidden gem will WOW!

As you drive up Howell Mountain Road you begin to realize the sheer beauty of the terrain & the majesty of the Vaca Mountain range. As you proceeded higher and higher up the mountain, the road becomes a one-lane path through deep oak forests and steep ravines. And out of nowhere, you reach a gate that says Amizetta.

The winery sits a top of the mountain overlooking terraced vineyards and far-reaching views across Lake Hennessey and beyond. You are struck by the sheer beauty and majesty of this mountain top retreat.

Purchased in 1979, the 40-acre property is located in the Howell Mountain AVA or growing region. It is a steep, rocky, hillside property, where the vines are planted in terraced rows. The tasting room architecture is clean and modern with a jaw-dropping view of the surrounding rolling hills, Lake Hennessy and on clear days the San Pablo Bay. Amizetta produces world class Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties. The staff at Amizetta is inviting, knowledgeable and fun. A visit here is memorable not only for the spectacular wine and views, but for the hospitality and deep knowledge of the tasting room staff. So, if you are looking for that special place that you will remember for a lifetime, this is it.

Barnett Vineyards – Small production mountaintop boutique winery – a hidden gem

View of Napa Valley from Barnett WinerySpring Mountain in Saint Helena is known for its high-end wineries such as Vineyard 7&8, Lakoya, Sherwin Winery and Pride Mountain Vineyards.  Barnett is nestled among the mountaintop next to these world famous wineries. It’s small and often overlooked, which is why we consider it a hidden gem.

Producing top quality wine is their passion. Seated in their comfy outdoor tasting area, or in their caves, you have a view of the entire Napa Valley at your feet. The spectacular view doesn’t detract from the equally spectacular wines you taste. From Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll be impressed by the quality and excellence of these mountain top wines.

Purchased in 1983, and perched atop Spring Mountain, this 40-acre property is located at 2,050 feet and commands sweeping views of the Napa Valley.  When the Barnett family purchased the property, it was nothing but trees, rocks, shrubs, and rattlesnakes!  They named one of their vineyard blocks Rattlesnake Hill because of the slithery residents there!  Barnett produces exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cab Franc from their estate vineyard, plus Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and some other varietals and blends.  A tasting experience at Barnett is relaxed, informative and intimate. Barnett is dog friendly and includes a tour of their mountaintop caves. Rattlesnake and Spring Mountain District wines, including Merlot and Cabernet Franc, remain the focus with total estate production varying between 5,000 and 6,000 cases annually.

Ridge Vineyards, Lytton Springs – a well-known name among wine connoisseurs

Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs CrushRidge Vineyards is known for its outstanding Zinfandel’s and is available in stores and restaurants around the world. What makes this winery special is its location in Dry Creek Valley. Nestled among vines that are over 100 years old, the tasting room offers a comfortable setting with views over the ancient vineyards and the surrounding rolling hills.

The Ridge staff is inviting and knowledgeable and provides a wealth of wine knowledge to its guests. Tasters sit on a sun-drenched patio on comfortable sofas while sipping Chardonnay and Zinfandel and enjoying the view of the organic vineyards.

Ridge Vineyards’ history began in 1885, when 180 acres was purchased on Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  During the 1960s Ridge developed its reputation for single vineyard Cabernet and Zinfandel.  The Lytton Springs property in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley was acquired in 1991. The property is surrounded by 115-year old vines and is a very unique facility as it is built of straw bales and vineyard clay.  Tasting at Ridge is a lovely, relaxing experience.  The tasting patio offers comfy couches to sit on while you savor wonderful, single-vineyard wines looking out over the old zinfandel vineyard planted in the early 1900’s.