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New Sips in Napa and Sonoma

What to try and where to go for vinous experiences in 2020.

Vaulted ceilings, dramatic skylights, and warm wood tones define the new visitors center at Cakebread Cellars.

Photo by Rocco Ceselin


New Releases

2017 Flambeaux Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
Having relocated to Sonoma County from New Orleans, three generations of the Murray family launched Flambeaux Wine in 2014 with the deft hand of vintner Ryan Prichard. This coastal chardonnay shines brightly with notes of tropical fruit and an elegance that comes from meticulous wine-making and only hints of oak aging. $50, flambeauxwine.com.

2015 Halleck Vineyard Find Your Light Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
The Halleck family donates all proceeds from this lush red wine to singer Josh Groban’s Find Your Light Foundation, which supports arts education for children. A pinot noir lover, Groban participated in the blending of grapes sourced from the cool Sebastopol hills. Inviting flavors of cherries and a hint of spice comprise this easy-drinking wine’s appeal. $55, halleckvineyards.com.

A view of Theorem’s Diamond Mountain vineyards—which produce world-class cabernet grapes—from the winery’s barrel room. Photo by Briana Marie.

2017 Theorem Diamond Mountain Voir Dire Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Acclaimed winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown took on this Diamond Mountain project when Houston natives Jason and Kisha Itkin purchased the property in 2012. The potential was realized with this rich and elegant flagship cabernet, produced from old vines on the property. The winery also makes chardonnay and sauvignon blanc that can’t be missed, with fruit from Moon Mountain. $145, theoremvineyards.com.


New Tasting Rooms

Aperture Cellars, Healdsburg
This spring, founder and winemaker Jesse Katz opens his modern winery, showcasing his Aperture and Devil’s Proof labels. Built in a sustainable manner (and in collaboration with his photographer father, Andy Katz), the gallery-inspired space is covered with photos from all over the world. The exquisite wines focus on Bordeaux varietals, such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot, in addition to a single-vineyard malbec. aperture-cellars.com.

Cakebread Cellars, St. Helena
Cakebread Cellars opened in 1973, but just this fall second-generation family members Dennis and Bruce Cakebread unveiled a new 36,000-square-foot visitors center on the property. A culinary wing highlights the artisanal food pairings prepared by 30-year veteran chef Brian Streeter, and new tasting rooms allow guests to choose their sips, from all whites or reds to the library collection of vintage wines. Visits are by appointment only. cakebreadcellars.com.

Handwritten Wines, Yountville
Handwritten Wines was situated in a cottage adjacent to its sister brand, Jessup Cellars—until now. A new Handwritten tasting room sits right at the gateway to Yountville, a short mile down Washington Street from Jessup, but a world away in design and ambience. The striking space, constructed by Momentum Builders, has gorgeous vaulted ceilings and multiple lounge areas. It offers a variety of options for tasting the small-production wines, with a focus on hillside fruit grown at specific vineyard sites. handwrittenwines.com.


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