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    THE BEST OF NAPA AND SONOMA
    Last we counted there were 951 (!) wineries in the two counties of Napa and Sonoma. These are the 13 that matter.    


    PHOTO COURTESY OF HIRSH
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    AWAY FROM IT ALL
    At remote Storybook in the Mayacamas Mountains, you’ll find century-old wine caves and exceptional zinfandel.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF STORYBOOK
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    TUSCANY, CALIFORNIA
    The high-acid pinot noir, warm hospitality, and rustic kitchen at organic Robert Sinskey will make you feel like you’re visiting Italy.
    PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROBERT SINSKEY
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    A CHIC DRINKING SCENE
    Failla’s wines are mostly from Sonoma Coast vineyards, but the winery itself is located in St. Helena, in the Napa Valley. This place is tricked out with not one but two country-cool tasting facilities: the ultra-cozy wood-paneled “Tasting Lodge,” and a private lounge in the winery’s underground caves.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF FAILLA
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    SUPERIOR GRAPES—AND STYLE
    Go to Wind Gap, relax in a reclaimed-wood farmhouse, and pour first-rate syrah from a growler, all while listening to vinyl.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF WIND GAP TASTING ROOM
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    LOVER OF BIG REDS?
    Medlock-Ames is one of the great ‘hangs’ in California Wine Country, especially during their summer concert series (hosted on Sundays). Don’t miss the velvety Alexander Valley reds and their handsome tasting room.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE ROSE/MEDLOCK AMES
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    THE BEACHFRONT ONE
    Hirsh’s bragging rights: they run a top-notch vineyard on Sonoma’s steep—and stunning—coastal terrain.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF HIRSH
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    PICNICS FIT FOR INSTAGRAM
    Located at the convergence of Napa and Sonoma and within striking distance of San Francisco, Scribe has the whole ‘gather ‘round the communal table’ thing down pat. They host a variety of events—typically hosted by It-Restaurants and attended by young, good-looking people—and the vibe is that of a supremely well-appointed picnic.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF SCRIBE
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    VISIT TWO OF NAPA'S OGS
    Smith-Madrone gives you Stuart and Charles Smith, two Napa originals making some of the best Cabernet in the Valley (without the ego and corresponding price tag). Visiting this farm (and these farmers) is like a journey to Dagobah to meet Yoda.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF SMITH-MADRONE
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    FOR THE ARCHITECTURE BUFFS
    Larkmead has the same peaceful vibes as the nearby town of Calistoga. Famed architect Howard Backen gave it the look of a fancy but simple barn.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF LARKMEAD
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    CHARDONNAY TO SILENCE THE HATERS
    All California Chardonnay is buttery, oaky pineapple juice, right? So wrong, actually. In fact, if you’re into crisp, nervous, brightly acidic white wines, the old school Napa landmark, Stonyhill, is for you. They do great dry Rieslings and Gewürztraminers along with their Chablis-inspired chards.

    PHOTO COURTESY OF STONYHILL WINERY
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    CLOSER THAN BURGUNDY
    Like a trip to another era. The moss-covered stone fortress of Chateau Montelena was built in the late-1800s and now serves as the label’s tasting room (their Chardonnay triumphed over French rivals in the famed 1976 “Paris Tasting,” and their cabernets remain highly sought after by collectors). This is the California equivalent of visiting a storied château in Bordeaux.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF CHATEAU MONTELENA
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    A TRULY HISTORIC PICK
    Hanzell Vineyard’s founder James Zellerbach was a key figure in the post-Prohibition renaissance in California wine. The Chardonnays and Pinots are reference-point wines.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF HANZELL VINEYARD
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    SCHEDULE A FARM VISIT
    Bona fide eccentric and ex-Texan Lee Hudson foreswore the family oil business in favor of a life in agriculture. His eponymous vineyard has been a coveted source of grapes for dozens of notable winemakers, but that’s just the beginning: the property is also home to olive groves, pigs, and chickens.
    PHOTO COURTESY OF HUDSON RANCH
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    WHAT'S NEXT
    PHOTO BY THEBITTENWORD.COM
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The 13 Wines You Must Try in Napa and Sonoma

The best places to taste, sip, and mingle in California's wine country