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Friday Fishwrap: Random Jottings at Week's End
Special Day in Wine Country: Schramsberg Vineyards

By Charles Olken

I am the official Olken Family and college connection tour guide to California wine country. It goes with the territory, I suppose, just as I am the Chez Olken sommelier, cellar master and anointed cork puller. I have a few friends and family who are very deeply into wine appreciation, but most of the time, I go off to the wine country on day trips with visiting firemen who want nothing more than a good view, an inexpensive taste of good wine and a nice luncheon.

But once in a while, I have the luxury of touring with folks like my collegiate buddy who heads a home winemaking group in Boston or my roommate from Ontario who drinks Petite Sirah and likes it or the couples with whom we hang out the most and who actually know a thing or two about wine. Wine country visits with those folks are more serious, indeed, almost studious events because the people come with knowledge and want to learn more. And I want to take them to places where they can learn while tasting very good wine.

This series on wine country destinations entitled Friday Getaway Day has mostly focused on accessible wineries that pour lots of wine, are relatively inexpensive and have pleasant tasting rooms and amenities such as views or artwork or both. Today, I want to point you in the direction of a winery that is certainly an attractive place, indeed, most wineries are these days, but which specializes in high quality wines and whose visits are by appointment only and are limited to small numbers at each tour. It may cost a little extra, but for those who want a deeper experience, it is worth it.

There are, of course, many such places, but few win as many high ratings in Connoisseurs’ Guide as Schramsberg Vineyards. Set in the hills above the Napa Valley and just about on the cusp between Spring Mountain and Diamond Mountain, Schramsberg is sparkling wine country first and foremost. Those famous wines that have served at occasions of State for many Presidents were grown on site for years, but lately the wines come from grapes in cooler locations and now a very good Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in the home vineyards. And it is that change to grapes from Carneros, Marin County, the Anderson Valley and their coastal ilk that has allowed Schramsberg to rise from good U. S. producer to world-class producer.

And the best way to learn in depth about Schramsberg is to visit, to tour the caves and to taste with the staff. This is not a tasting room visit. This is a winery visit. And it is a visit that promises to teach even as you are tasting some of the finest sparkling wine around.

Schramsberg Vineyards
1400 Schramsberg Rd.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-6668

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Your blogging and photographing
by Jo Diaz
Posted on:12/18/2010 11:59:13 AM

I'm just loving that you're able to add color (photos, because you add color, naturally, too) to your stories.

It's so great to have you as part of this medium...

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