Best wine destination in 2013: Napa Valley/Sonoma, California.
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Taste: Don’t miss the huge variety of tasting and educational programs at famed Grgich Hills Estate’s rolling Napa vineyard. Programs range from casual tastings (offered under the tutelage of a wine educator) to more ambitiously pitched, intimate library tastings led by winery higher-ups. For $30, you even can shed your socks and stomp grapes. Also, the Napa Valley Wine Train (with its restored 1915 Pullman cars) stops at Grgich Hills Estate. (1829 Saint Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 707-253-2111; grgich.com)
Napa superstar Caymus Vineyard offers intimate tastings conducted by a wine educator. The $30 tastings take a little planning (they’re by appointment only), but, happily, the groups are kept to 10 or fewer people and they’ll even let you take the Caymus Vineyard glass away with you. (8700 Conn Creek Road, Rutherford, CA 707-963-4204; caymus.com)
Alternately, Chappellet Winery in St. Helena offers two daily (11 am and 1 pm), 90-minute tours through its beautiful Pritchard Hill vineyards. Expect to sample all the Chappellet’s current wines—plus, you’ll be able to tour its production facilities. (1581 Sage Canyon Rd, St. Helena, CA 707-963-7136; chappellet.com) If your tastes run more toward sipping than hiking, drop into the Robert Craig Tasting Salon, where $20 buys an endless parade of samples. Plus, you can do it all overlooking the pretty parkland adjoining the Napa River. The Salon’s motto is: “Come for the Cabernet, stay for the view.” (625 Imperial Way, Napa 707-252-2250; robertcraigwine.com)