When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of hearts, flowers, chocolates, and, of course, red wine.
If wine is on your mind this Valentine’s Day, you might want to consider a trip to a vineyard, where you can do a tasting first-hand and stay in a cozy, romantic inn. (For a kickstart, refresh your wine knowledge with a viewing of the romantic comedy, “Sideways” where Miles and Jack go on a last-gasp guys’ wine country trip before Jack’s wedding).
Consider a stay at the luxurious Gables Wine Country Inn in Sonoma County, an area where viniculture is alive and well and welcoming guests. If you book a two-night stay during Valentine’s week, you’ll get a bottle of Breathless Blanc de Noirs, some chocolate-dipped strawberries, and a red rose to ignite your inner Cupid. Owner Larry Willis will direct you to the best of the 450 vineyards in the county. www.thegablesinn.com. www.breathlesswines.com.
In nearby Napa Valley, Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, invites you to spend the night with your sweetie while indulging in a treatment at the Atrio Spa and dinner at Acacia House restaurant. Occupying a stately, Georgian-style farmhouse dating from 1907, the resort is neighbor to the famous Beringer vineyards. http://www.lasalcobasnapavalley.com/ Photo: Acacia House at Las Alcobas
The Allison Inn and Spa in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, incorporates wine into the spa treatments with “pinotherapy” options. Book a “Blissful Romance” package and you’ll get a two-night stay in a deluxe suite, a $100 food credit for in-room or JORY restaurant dining, plus a $200 spa credit. http://www.theallison.com/
If you'd like a dose of much warmer weather, a trip to Mendoza will satisfy your wine wishes and let you escape Northern hemisphere winter. Vineyards in this beautiful part of Argentina offer special wine-tasting meals for Valentine's Day. Two that I especially love are Entre Cielos and Casa Vigil, each known for their wonderful Malbecs.
For Valentine's Day the dramatic Entre Cielos' vineyard and hotel offers a six-course menu paired with their special wines, all sensuously accompanied by live music. https://entrecielos.com
Nearby Casa El Enemigo Vigil, , has a tradition of mixing music and art with wine. Last year's evening gave couples a new way to toast their loved one with song dedications, creating a fluid musical medley that complemented the six-course wine pairing dinner. http://www.enemigowines.com
But, if travel isn’t on the horizon for Valentine's Day this year, you can still get the wine tasting experience on your own with these fabulous red wines:
New Zealand’s Marlborough region produces some of the finest Pinot Noirs in the world, and at very delicious prices. One of my favorites is Oyster Bay Pinot Noir. The bay, cool climate and maritime influences come together to create a lovely concentration of fragrant cherry and juicy black plum with silky tannins in Oyster Bay's signature red wine. A bonus: the experts at the vineyard will happily help you book your next Valentine’s Day holiday in New Zealand. https://www.oysterbaywines.com/
The Central Coast in California is having some fun with one of its newest wine brands, BACON. Affordable, witty, and, as they say, “bacon goes with everything,” BACON is a Rhone red blend of Syrah and Grenache with bold, rich flavors and a juicy finish. Find it here. http://www.guarachiwinepartners.com/product-category/california/bacon/
Trinchero Family Estates in Napa Valley suggests a trio of seductively named wines to whet your Valentine's Day appetites: try their Taken Cabernet/Merlot, a lovely dark-hued wine with oak and dark chocolate notes; Menage a Trois Decadence,a luxurious Cabernet Sauvignon; and Folie a Deux from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, a jammy Zinfandel with bright fruit flavors and medium tannins, You can find more information on their website at http://www.tfewines.com/our-brands.
Among Old Country wines, Italy stands out for its varied reds. Drinking Sagrantino from the Umbria region offers up another wine travel experience without the need to book a ticket in chilly February – plan your trip to Central Italy for a warmer month when you can visit the vineyards and the town of Terni, the city that gave birth to Saint Valentine, the patron of all lovers. A favorite wine from the neighboring town of Montefalco is the bold, smoky Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, a wine high in tannins and deep ruby in color. http://www.consorziomontefalco.it/en/