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The Ultimate in Napa Wine Tour

May 3rd – 6th 2018
 

Hosted by James Cluer MW
 

$4,995 CAD per person


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Join me for the ultimate tour of the most iconic estates in Napa. Stay in a boutique hotel in the heart of Napa, visit acclaimed wineries, and enjoy decadent meals at the top wineries and restaurants.

Each day includes visits and tastings at some of the most famous wineries in Napa, whose wines often sell for hundreds of dollars per bottle in restaurants. We are well received by the estates who provide insight into their region, viticulture, winemaking, and their own nuances. May is a perfect time of year, typically warm and sunny, but not too hot. The vineyards look gorgeous.

Included in the itinerary are:

  • Learn about the history of Napa at key points during the last 150 years with visits to the 2nd oldest winery Schramsberg, a vertical of Rubicon at Copolla's storied Inglenook, and a special dinner at the iconic Robert Mondavi.
     
  • Discover the classics of Napa with a tour and tasting at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, lunch at Chateau Montelena, and an exclusive visit to Heitz Cellars to taste Martha's. It's our Judgement of Paris day, and we cap it all off with spectacular dinner at The French Laundry.
     
  • Explore the icons, architectural wonders and wineries shaped by outside investors at Opus One, Darioush for lunch, and Spring Mountain Vineyards. A free night to enjoy Napa.
     
  • A rare glimpse into the world of Cult Cabernets, with a tasting of Screaming Eagle and others. This takes place at Hunnicutt Winery, close to St. Helena, where a number of Napa's top winemakers craft exceptional wines. Here we will also have a barrel tasting of my own micro-cuvee Cluer Family Vineyards. We wrap up with more spectacular wines over lunch at Cindy's restaurant in St. Helena, and a chance to visit the town and buy wines before you leave.
     
  • 3-nights' accommodation at the 4.5-star Napa River Inn in the heart of Napa.

Your Host

James Cluer MW
James has extensive knowledge of Napa. He has worked with a number of wineries and it is through these special connections with the owners and winemakers that we are able to arrange such special visits and tastings.

Price: CAD $4,995 (including tax)

This price includes 3 nights' accommodation at the Napa River Inn, all meals, superb wines at all meals, all estate visits and tastings, local transport within Napa during the tour, and all applicable taxes and gratuities. Flights and transfers from San Francisco to Napa are not included.

There is a $750 supplement for single travelers for single occupancy hotel room.

The payment schedule is:

  • Deposit at booking: $1,000
  • 120 days from start: $2,500
  • 90 days from start: $1,495

To Join the Tour: Simply click on the Book Now icon at the top-right of this page and you will be prompted to enter your details. Should you have any questions please contact David@finevintageltd.com

Itinerary

Day 1
Thursday, May 3rdThe History of Napa

Make your own way to Napa, 90 minutes from San Francisco. We will meet at The Napa River Inn hotel in downtown Napa at 11.00 am for a welcome, introductions, overview of the itinerary, and presentation on the Napa Valley. Lunch will be a standing affair with plenty of delicious finger food and wine so everyone can get to know each-other. At 1 pm we set off for our first visit.

Schramsberg
California makes the best bubbly outside of Champagne, and Schramsberg is the best American-owned producer. It's as simple as that. It's also the second oldest winery in Napa, dating back to the late 1800's and the underground cellars are something to see. Many people consider it the most interesting winery to visit in the valley, with its combination of history, cool dark tunnels and stunning wine. Corks will fly in the cellars. www.schramsberg.com

Inglenook
Started by Gustav Neibaum in 1879 this magnificent estate quickly won international and local acclaim, being served to the American President in 1891. By the mid 1900's the owner John Daniel, Gustav's grandnephew, had established it as THE reference point for fine Cabernet Sauvignon. John Daniel was the Director of the Wine Institute until 1969 and the importance of his role can never be exaggerated in the history of Napa. Francis Ford Coppola has spent 40 years meticulously restoring the property and continuously elevating every aspect of the wine quality and brand.

The 1941 vintage was later deemed wine of the century earning a perfect 100-point score from Wine Spectator. The wines were legendary. Get ready. You will sample the flagship wine Rubicon from barrel and then enjoy 4 library vintages after you tour the cellars and hear the story first-hand. www.inglenook.com

Robert Mondavi
This is unquestionably the hardest winery to describe because you can never do it justice.

The actual visit itself is set to include a tour of the gorgeous cellars, a reception and presentation of the great estate, and then a sumptuous dinner with the flagship wines majestically paired.

To me, Robert Mondavi was the greatest figure in the wine world and still remains so today. He certainly influenced my life. A visit and dinner at his legendary winery is a magical experience. www.robertmondavi.com

Check-in to the Napa River Inn in Napa
After our beautiful dinner at Mondavi we'll be back at the Napa River Inn at around 9:30 pm. The Napa River Inn is an historic boutique hotel right in the heart of Napa, located on the banks of the river. This will be your home for the next 3 nights with breakfast delivered to your room each morning. www.napariverinn.com

Day 2
Friday, May 4thThe Classics of Napa

10:00 AM
Meet in the lobby of the Napa River Inn to depart for our day revisiting the icons from the Judgement of Paris and more.

Stag's Leap
Our day begins with a visit to Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. Stag's Leap became one of Napa's most famous estates after winning the famed Judgement of Paris in 1976. Their single-vineyard SLV and Fay Cabernets today take on the best from anywhere, and their Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and red blends are world-class as well. The underground cellars are spectacular, and the attention to detail in fine winemaking from single vineyards is very impressive. This tour and tasting should be a memory to last a lifetime. www.cask23.com.

Chateau Montelena
Hidden up-valley just north of the little town of Calistoga, Montelena is beyond famous not just because their Chardonnay won “Best Chardonnay” at the famous 1976 Paris tasting, but because the winery makes stunning Cabernet too. Bo Barrett, the owner, is married to the cult queen Heidi Barrett who has made more 100-point wines than anyone else in California. This great visit will be followed by lunch with tastings focused on Chardonnay and the highly advanced sustainability practices at the winery. www.montelena.com

Heitz Cellar
This is my favorite. Kathleen, the owner, is a real sweetheart, and her wines are drop dead gorgeous. This is a very exclusive visit and tasting because visitors are not allowed at the winery. The winery is old and charming, tucked away off the Silverado Trail. We'll learn about Joe Heitz, a legendary figure, single vineyard wines, maturing wine in oak for 3 years, and the history of Martha's Vineyard - the first single vineyard designated wine in Napa. We'll taste some amazing Cabernet here. www.heitzcellar.com.

French Laundry Dinner
Founded by Chef Thomas Keller in the 1990s, the French Laundry is a Michelin 3-star restaurant that has received numerous international awards. It is a bucket-list destination for serious foodies who must phone in for a reservation often 6 months prior to their date. We are therefore privileged to be able to include a private dinner at this American icon with a 4-course dinner paired with exquisite wines. www.thomaskeller.com

Day 3
Saturday, May 5th

10:30 AM
Meet in the lobby of the Napa River Inn to depart for our day exploring estates that showcase the work of outside investors, often stunning architectural wineries, both icons and hidden gems.

Darioush
Our day starts with a visit and lunch at Darioush, one of the most architecturally stunning wineries in Napa. This estate exemplifies the modern Napa. All of the stone was imported from Iran, the birthplace of owner Darioush Khaledi. We will enjoy a lovely lunch with a host of wines, enjoying their exceptional hospitality, and a tour of this landmark estate. www.darioush.com

Opus One
A joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Mouton-Rothschild, Opus One is one of the benchmark wineries of the world. We will discover this classic winery and admire the architecture that is another landmark in Napa. I've been lucky to taste many vintages of Opus One, and I'm a huge fan. www.opusonewinery.com

Spring Mountain
Spring Mountain is one of the most prestigious appellations of Napa and here you'll find a huge estate, over 800 acres in size, that is a model of sustainable viticulture. It is owned by a discrete Swiss businessman, a real wine lover, who keeps the estate low-key, but the wines breathtaking. It's a special experience because we go to the top of the mountain in an army jeep, and we will taste some older vintages. www.springmtn.com

Tonight is a free night for you to enjoy some of the great new restaurants in Napa or beyond.

Day 4
Sunday, May 6th

10:30 AM We will check-out of the Napa River Inn and depart for our final day which will include tastings of some of Napa's cult wines.

Hunnicutt Winery
This is a beautiful small winery tucked away in the hills close to Saint Helena. The caves stretch into the mountainside and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. It is here that a number of Napa's most respected Consultant Winemakers work, like Aaron Pott, crafting small-batch boutique cult wines in the custom crush facility. The owner, Justin, will show us his own wines and explain his vision.

Cluer Family Vineyards
It's not easy to talk about your own wine. Suffice to say the fruit comes from a historic Cabernet vineyard in Rutherford that is owned by a Napa 1st growth, who is fortunately a friend. The wine is made by Aaron Pott. It's a micro-cuvee with very small production. Forgive me if I get excited to show you my own wine, taste with you from barrel, and explain the full story.

Screaming Eagle
This is THE cult wine of Napa Valley. We won't visit the property because it is closed to everyone. But we will taste the wine because you simply can't do an ultimate tour to Napa without having a glass of Screaming Eagle. There is a waiting list to get on the mailing list to get on the allocation list to receive 2 bottles, at about $2,000 a bottle.

Cindy's Backyard Kitchen & St. Helena
Cindy's is a local's restaurant in Saint Helena, where many of the winemakers and owners meet for a glass of wine. We will have lunch here with some winemaker friends who will bring a variety of their wines. It's casual, with a warm atmosphere. After lunch there's some time to stroll the streets, pop into a wine shop and stock up before heading home.

By the time you've had an hour to discover Saint Helena, or linger at Cindy's sipping some fabulous wines, it's 3.30 pm and you're DONE. It's time to wrap-up, head back to the hotel arriving by 4.00 pm latest. The tour is now over. You can either stay on in Napa or head back to San Francisco or the airport. Count on about 2 hours to get to the SFO airport, and about 90 minutes to get to downtown SF, but you never know with Bay area traffic.

So, what are you waiting for? Space is limited to 20 people and our trips sell out. If you have any further questions, please contact David@finevintageltd.com. He will be more than happy to assist with any queries you may have.

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