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Wine (the beverage) FAQ, part9 of 10 [LONG]

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Archive-name: drink/wine-faq/part9
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Copyright: (c) 1995-2000 Bradford S. Brown (Notices/Disclaimers in pt. 10)
Last-modified: 2000/06/01
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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

We might give up before we start, but for now, we'll have a lot of
reserved. Touring the wine country is a personal adventure. Everybody has
their own impressions as to what they like and how they like to do it.
Initially we provided WWW links to various tourist sites, but with the
explosion of the WWW, there is no keeping up. Instead, check the Internet
Resources section for hints on where to start in finding your particular

_Niagara Peninsula_
You may wish to tour the wineries of the Niagara Peninsula in southern
Ontario. After visiting the famous Falls, the Wine Route can provide an
interesting summer afternoon drive. One end is on the Niagara Parkway,
between Queenston Heights and Niagara-on-the-Lake, and it wanders through
the vineyards and orchards to the Niagara Bench area and the town of
Grimsby. It passes near about 25 wineries. The route, not counting stops,
takes 2-3 hours to drive. Coach tours are available.
Most of the wineries provide free tastings. However, if you want to try
Ontario's famous Eiswein (icewine) you will probably have to pay a little
- it's too expensive to give away.
_Okanagan Valley_
Located west of the Canadian Rockies in the southeastern part of British
Columbia, the Okanagan Similkameen area contains a number of wineries. The
Okanagan Valley, similar in latitude to German wine growing regions has
produced grapes since the 1800's, however in the 1970's a series of major
replantings with the hopes of transforming the area into a world-class
wine growing area, with over 25 wineries currently in operation. Fruit
stands are frequent along the highways which pass by scenic lakes. Some
wineries co-exist with new homes. The Similkameen high desert valley runs
along the Similkameen River in the Cascade Mountains and is a much more
recent addition the list of wine producing areas. A large number of wine
related events take place throughout the year. A tourism guide is
available from the Okanagan Similkameen Tourism Association of British
Columbia, which you can also probably get from the British Columbia
Tourism people by phone (check your local listings).

Okay. We've never been to France. There are enough books and tourist
guides to fill a library. But if anybody has anything specific they would
like to add, let us know. So far we've heard:

_*Central Coast*_
Centered more or less between Solvang/Buellton and Santa Maria, the
Central Coast has, in recent times, begun to produce a great deal of
extremely good wine. Given that the Mondavi family of Napa has recently
come in and bought up a lot of the best acreage, it is clear that what is
coming from the area is not without some very large potential!
Many people like to stay in either Santa Barbara (and drive the 45 minutes
or so to the southern wine areas), or in and around Solvang, a town that
tries to look a bit like (so I'm told) a small Danish town, down to a
windmill on top of the most famous Danish pastry shop in town. 

Because there are a number of very small producers without tasting rooms,
there are several wine tasting rooms which, for a small fee, will let you
sample a large number of the area's wines that you could not otherwise
taste. One such room is the _*Los Olivos Tasting Room *_in the center of
the small town of Los Olivos (about 10 minutes north of Solvang). Another
(run by a local wine writer), is the _*Los Olivos Wine and Spirits
Emporium*_, located about a mile west of the center of Los Olivos (web
site [] : (Netizens may
like the "wine glass stained" mouse pads offered there; we're using one
"as we speak.")
_*Gold Country*_
When most people first think of where the wine country in California is,
they probaby first think of Napa. About an hour's drive (when you are
lucky) north of San Francisco, the wine boom of the last 30 or so years
has transformed the area's farms and farmers. World class fine wines are
produced here by family farmers, wine barons and multi-national
corporations, just to name a few. Wines to fit every taste and every
pocketbook can be found at almost every turn.
So far as touring the area, the first thing many people think of is
"expensive." While a vacation in a wine area might not be as costly as
some resort packages, the Napa area has experienced such a huge tourist
influx that the cost of lodging and food (both of which can be extremely
good) have risen rapidly. Our travels have shown us that a higher
percentage of wineries charge for tasting in Napa than in any other area
we have visited.
In any event, you can be treated to some of the finest dining anywhere in
establishments that, as often as not, provide reasonably priced wines from
local producers. Many wineries have beautiful areas in which to picnic,
and you can get food from some of the wineries (and, of course, if you
want, wine), or provide your own from markets, bakeries and deli's in the
area, especially along or just off of Highway 29.
For those who are interested, there are also balloon rides, sail planes,
resorts, mud baths, a wine "train" and even a gondola ride to get you to a
winery (at a price).
Of course another cost of all these tourist attractions is that there are
a lot of tourists. The crowds can be a bit overwhelming at times. It is
best to plan for off-peak periods and mid-week visits if you want to avoid
some of the herds.
_*Paso Robles*_
North of San Francisco and west over the hills from Napa lies Sonoma
County. Where Napa is glitz and glamor, Sonoma seems to be more "down
home." Perhaps this is an illusion as big companies take over more and
more acreage, but there are still lots of smaller wineries making world
class wine in an agricultural setting. The area is bigger than Napa and
since it is more spread out, it isn't quite the tourist attraction, nor
does it have quite the "trendiness." There aren't as many "upscale"
restaurants (but there are some; we've tried and liked, for example,
_*Mixx*_ in Santa Rosa, _*John Ash & Co.*_ just north of Santa Rosa and
the _*Willowside Cafe *_somewhat west of Santa Rosa._* *_There is wine
that is just as good and the crowds are smaller. If you want a bit more of
the tourist feeling, stay in and around the city of Sonoma, otherwise, the
city of Santa Rosa is a good base. You can even cross over the hills and
spend some time in Napa. If you think we're putting Sonoma down, don't. We
don't want to let a good thing out of the bag. We spend much more time in
Sonoma when we're up that way.


_*Into the United States*_
I've not checked the following information. Check with Customs! Posts
You are allowed to bring into the U.S. some amount of liquor duty free.
After that, 10% flat rate for the first $1000 above the $400 duty free
limit (for most other items) allowed. You must carry the wine with you.
Mailing/shipping it back requires an importer, and some say it will
disappear in any event.

When I think of Kosher wine, I think of Mogan David. Most of those wines
are sweetened and some use artificial flavors.
Posts have spoken of other producers:
  + Carmel 
  + Baron Herzog (California) 
  + Gan Eden (California) 
  + Galil (Israel) 
  + Golan Heights (Golan Heights) 
  + Royal Kedem (Israel) 
  + Weinstock (California) 

Definitely something that can be done, but far afield from our experience.
Some of the best wine we've drunk is from home winemakers, and many
commercial winemakers got their start making wine at home. There are a
great number of cyberspace resources in this area, including a FAQ on
winemaking and a FAQ on winemaking resources. Check out:
_*World Wide Web:*_ Don
Buchan's Wine Guide Page
[] at with
links to his FAQs on making wine and internet wine-making resources, as
well as information on wine-making kits, recipes, etc. See additional
sites as listed in the "Winemaking" section of Appendix A.
_*E-mail*_: Don Buchan [] is at
_*FTP:*_ (all FAQs)
_*Gopher:*_ (all FAQ's via

While I wouldn't bet that there is any wine in a Pan-Galactic Gargle
Blaster, who knows? Check with Zaphod Beeblebrox.

_*Wine Coolers*_
Two bottles red wine (don't spend a lot!). 1 container frozen orange juice
concentrate. Several cinnamon sticks several whole cloves. (I've never
made this....)
Chill and serve in a punch bowl with strawberries on top. Add soda water
for a weaker concoction.

If you are shipping wine, take note that many wineries will hold off
shipment to accommodate either your schedule or the weather. You probably
don't want your wine sitting around a very hot loading dock in the middle
of summer.
Check Appendix A for some URL's discussing legal aspects of wine and the
shipping of wine. Some states do not allow shipping into their
jurisdiction. Why? Alternate theories include morals and/or tax revenues.



The following is a sub-set of Dean Turdor's Wines, Beers and Spirits of
the Net [] , removing most of
the non-wine links. Thanks to Mssr. Tudor for his permission to use his
list. For a complete and current copy of his list, go to The following listing was
created in November, 1997.

For ease of use, the entire list will be included in part 10


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