Sparkling Wine Outings in the Bay Area

08.9.12


Don't Forget the Bubbly

Northern California has some of the world’s best wines—and some of it downright sparkles. Celebrate summer by pairing sparkling wine with al fresco eats, cave retreats, and a little Shakespeare Under the Stars. Bubble your pleasure!


Iron horse food truck

Horse Around

Some sparkling wines pair best with a commitment to the environment and the al fresco fun of food trucks. Giddy-up to family-owned Iron Horse Vineyards, located in Sebastopol on a remote hilltop property with mile-wide views of green vineyards, the Mayacamas, and the silhouette of Mount St. Helena. The playful winery’s view-tastic outdoor tasting room—a trellis-shaded wine bar with a casual vibe—is an ideal place to try a few of their sparkling options, like the 2007 Russian Cuvee, put on the map after originally being served at the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meetings. Don’t expect spit jars. Employees encourage guests to dump excess drink back into the vineyards. And that’s not the only way this Green Valley vineyard gives a nod to the earth. Iron Horse has teamed with National Geographic to make a limited edition, vintage sparkling called Ocean Reserve, contributing $4 to ocean preservation for every bottle sold. During summer months, stick around for Food Truck Fridays. Grab a serving of the weekly gourmet-on-the-go specialty (August 10 features Jamaican pulled pork tacos and rosemary fries), and kick back under Iron Horse’s vine-lined picnic gazebo, just below the main winery. Purebred goodness!

Iron Horse Vineyards is at 9786 Ross Station Rd. in Sebastopol (707-887-1507). The Tasting Room is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Winery tours are available by appointment Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., with Friday tours hosted by winemaker David Munksgard. Tours are $20 per person (including tasting), and tastings sans tours are $15 per person, both refunded with bottle purchase. Food Truck Fridays run every Friday, June through September, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. No dogs.

Schramsberg Vineyards

Cave Bar

Some places naturally bubble with adventure, and that’s exactly what’s happening at Schramsberg Vineyards in Calistoga, where volcanic rock caves loaded with champagne are ripe for exploration. Follow the candelabras—and your sparkling wine specialist—down the 2-mile stretch of caves built by Chinese laborers in the 1800s, and learn about the méthode champenoise process that goes into Schramsberg’s chardonnay and pinot noir-based sparkling wines. The 75-minute journey starts above ground, outside the hilltop winery shrouded in the dense redwood cover of Diamond Mountain. Pause at the reception area for a photo tour documenting the construction and evolution of this registered historic landmark, the oldest hillside vineyard in Napa County. Then enter Napa’s original caves for wine storing. At any time, as many as 2.7 million bottles are aging inside the 34,000-square-foot, naturally chilled tunnels. Feel like you’re inside the Phantom of the Opera as you wind through the dark, candlelit—and sometimes eerie—caves. Uncork more thrills by bellying up to a cave bar (or one of the two tasting rooms) to try four house sparklers. Schramsberg’s creations have been served to every president since Nixon brought a bottle to China as part of the 1972 “Toast to Peace.” Rock of ages, indeed.

Schramsberg Vineyards is at 1400 Schramsberg Rd. in Calistoga (directions). Tours run daily for $45/person by appointment only at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Expect around 12-14 guests per tour. Book online or by calling (707) 942-4558. No dogs.

Buena Vista Midsummer Nights Dream

A Midsummer Night's Delight

It's not just wines that get better with age; sometimes wineries do too. Sonoma’s Buena Vista Winery, one of the oldest in the state and a California Historic Landmark, has been undergoing major renovations—from vineyard landscaping to replacing a road that will lead to restored wine-tasting caves, barrel tastings, and Champagne cellars. (These new additions are officially slated to open September 1.) For now, you can still enjoy Buena Vista’s eclectic culture while sipping their premium Pinots, Chardonnay, and, new this year, sparkling wine. In addition to learning a little of California’s wine history in the main tasting room’s upstairs museum, starting tonight (August 9) and every Thursday through Sunday until August 26, Buena Vista is hosting Shakespeare Under the Stars, featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Courtyard picnic table seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis, but there’s not a bad seat at this outdoor venue, so take a blanket or chairs and get cozy. Bring your own food and and pair your eats with the Buena Vista Sparkling Brut. Then kick back among the vines and be entertained. That’s all kinds of poetry in motion.

Buena Vista Winery (18000 Old Winery Rd.) is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Shakespeare Under the Stars Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door or online.

Airline of Adventure

Now boarding: affordable adventures to really cool places! Alaska Airlines believes that low everyday fares and additional seat sales empower you to explore more and spend less (which is always fun, right?!). With flights departing from airports across the Bay Area, Alaska Airlines’ route map is designed to easily connect the travel dots—including—aloha!—the lowest fares to all 4 Hawaiian islands** (non-stop from Oakland and San Jose). The cherry on top? $50 off already low everyday fares* with Alaska’s free, award-winning Mileage Plan™. Alaska Airlines has taken California under its wings. Ready, set, take off!

BONUS PLAN: New members get $50 off their next flight*: Join Alaska Airlines award-winning Mileage Plan™. There’s no cost to join, and Alaska Airlines offers awards on 15 airline partners to over 700 destinations worldwide.
Palm Springs, Portland, Seattle, Puerto Vallarta, San Jose Cabo 
All 4 Hawaiian islands, Seattle, Portland
All 4 Hawaiian islands, Seattle, Portland, Boise, LAX, Palm Springs, San Jose Cabo, Guadalajara
Monterey, Fresno and Sonoma County/Santa Rosa to San Diego. Plus San Jose to Reno.

**Based on average fares, excluding non-revenue tickets, from the West Coast (CA, WA, OR) to Hawaii according to U.S. DOT data for year ending December 31, 2011.
*Terms apply.  See site for details 

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