Elissa Leibowitz describes her recent tour of the Napa Valley and her choice to stay off the beaten path and visit only smaller wineries along the Silverado Trail.
As I quickly learned during a long weekend in Napa Valley, a newcomer can tour the Northern California wine region in one of two ways: You can nudge your way into big-name, well-marketed wineries to sample mass-produced wines poured by tasting room managers too busy to chat. Or you can stick to small wineries and sit on patios and linger over larger-than-usual samples while talking to the vintner about his craft.
Nailed to the trunk of an ancient-looking tree on West Dry Creek Road is a sign that says “Slow.” Around the next bend is another: “Slower.” This is good advice. After rounding a couple more bends along this sinuous road, I arrived at a place where rushing would be beside the point — Preston Vineyards, one of the northernmost wineries in California’s Sonoma County. In a region with tremendous power to seduce the senses, I had found the quintessential example.
At the end of this article is an excellent list of places to visit and eat in Sonoma County.