Tasting in California. Again. We could get used to this.

The Pat The Wine Guy Spring Break Wine Tasting Tour was supposed to be all wrapped up.

But we took it into extra innings.

I flew down to the Bay Area to visit my son this past weekend.

Initially, we had no Saturday afternoon plans.

That lasted about 90 seconds, the amount of time it took for us to plot out a Napa/Sonoma wine tasting itinerary.

(Before we go any further, if you’re planning a trip to Napa/Sonoma…St. Helena, Healdsburg, Yountville, et al… and would like some advice on what wineries to visit,  please contact me. I don’t pretend to know everything about the area. There are, after all, well over 1,000 wine producers combined in the two counties. But I’ve visited several times and believe I have enough base knowledge to help you come up with a Napa/Sonoma game plan.)

Saturday morning, we drove to Sonoma, a little town that is quaint with a capital Q.  Just a block off the historic square is the tasting room for Walt wines.

I would HIGHLY recommend a visit to Walt since it is one of the very few spots where you can taste BOTH Oregon pinot and California pinot. Walt buys grapes from the legendary Shea Vineyard, located in the hills west of Newberg. Walt also sources pinot from vineyards throughout California, hence the Walt phrase, “1000 miles of pinot”.

Earthy, cherry-flavored Willamette Valley pinot followed by rich, almost chewy California pinot. It is a rare treat to taste Oregon pinot and California pinot back-to-back.   In the tasting room, Walt also pours chardonnay and rose but pinot is the star of this show, particularly the Gap’s Crown.   It’s brilliant.

Into the rental car for less than five minutes and we were at Patz & Hall.   We hear a lot about “cult” wines. Seems that term gets used and abused. But if Patz & Hall is a true cult winery, I am a true devotee.













If you look closely, you’ll find Patz & Hall in Portland stores.  Quite a few Safeways carry the Sonoma Coast pinot.  It’s a suitable entry-level wine. But in the tasting room, we got access to the good stuff, sampling our way through the single-vineyard lineup, Two Dryers, Hyde and Gold Rock Ridge. Excuse me while I gush. Every sip was outstanding.

And that’s just the pinot. We also tasted three distinctive and delicious chardonnays.

Then it was onward to Napa and the famed Silverado Trail to check out one of the most distinctive wineries in all of California.

If I were to use a single word to describe Darioush, I’m not sure if it would be “Wow!” or “Huh?” It is a bit overwhelming.







Darioush is your basic Persian palace, complete with 16 columns made of stone sourced from Persepolis in Iran.   Once you walk past the six outdoor water fountains, you’ll enter a tasting room filled with Persian art and artifacts.   If you’re feeling particularly flush, you might be interested in ordering one of their $7500 decanters.



But Darioush is not just another pretty face. The wine, especially the cabernet, merlot and viognier, receives consistently high reviews. My impression: the wine, like the winery, is big and makes a statement.

Alas, after two successive weekends in California wine country , this weekend I’ll be staying home. But while I’m mowing the lawn and spreading slug bait, I’ll be thinking…about my next trip south.