We’re always looking for great escapes from this beautiful city by the Bay and one of our favorite regions to explore is the Napa Valley. On a recent particularly noteworthy visit, we spent some time experiencing one of the area’s best kept secrets, the Del Dotto Vineyards Venetian Estate. Who knew an Italian-style palace can be found just a forty minute drive from San Francisco?! If seeing the stunning Italian architecture (there’s Murano glass chandeliers which were imported in and hand assembled at the winery) isn’t reason enough to go, here’s five more facts about Del Dotto that will motive you to plan your visit.
1. Underground tasting room. Yes, Del Dotto is known for its classic Italian architecture, but it’s also talked about for its extensive wine barrel caves. The caves feel like something out of the Twilight vampire series, the scenes that involve an ancient old coven in historic Rome. There’s no natural light, but there is a reason to look up: the 300-year old terracotta ceiling and 130-year old cut Varreggio marble walls.
2. Delicacies. Food lovers take note: Del Dotto offers a delectable food and wine pairing Thursday-Saturday at 11 am and 1:30 pm. With this special tasting, winery goers enjoy five delicious bites paired with five Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wines. The winery’s executive chef Joshua Schwartz spent ten years cooking under Thomas Keller, so the pairings are quite luxurious — think caviar with bubbles, and housemade pasta with Pinot. Guests have the option to add a cave tour and barrel tasting to the experience. Of the Delicacies tasting menu, chef Schwartz said, “We do not fool around — we start with the best made wines and create an ultimate pairing of dishes that enhances and raises the experience to another level.”
3. Tons of wine. During the cave tour and tasting, wine lovers can choose from 45 different varietals, creating their own customized choose-your-own adventure wine journey.
4. Side-by-side comparisons. When will you have the chance to taste the difference between wines aged in French, American, or European oak barrels? Or what about tasting a single vineyard Cab Sav aged in French oak and then trying that same Cab Sav aged in American oak? The variety of wines and the customization of the experience creates an unparalleled chance to perform comparisons — which fine tunes and hones your palette.
5. Charcuterie and Pizza. If you’re still hungry after the tasting, why not indulge in a platter of house-made salumi aged in a special room with a boar’s head that’s at the entrance of the winery? Local Mangalitsa pig is used to make 15 types of salumi including proscuitto, lardo, and coppa. There’s also an Italian pizza oven on property and on Fridays and Saturdays, the cave tour and barrel tasting includes a housemade pizza.
Photo Credit: Del Dotto Vineyards