Thursday, September 2, 2010

Travel Tip: Drink Bubbly for Free!

There are several sparkling houses throughout Napa and Sonoma.  Some of the big namers: Domaine Chandon, Gloria Ferrer, Mumm Napa, Domaine Carneros, Iron Horse, Roederer Estate... you name it!  But one of my favorite travel locations for a budget-friendly trip is good ol' Korbel Champagne Cellars.

Going to Korbel was initially recommended by a dear co-worker.  I had never really thought about making the trip on River Road (if you are in Napa Valley, go up and over Petrified Forest Rd. to Mark Springs and stay on Mark Springs which turns into River Road) to visit a sparkling wine facility, especially for relatively thrifty wine buys.  After all, I could've just gone to the grocery market to pick up a bottle!  But I have to say, Korbel is a place of northern California magic.

Not only is the tour free (that's right - free - as in, they don't charge you $25 per person to taste!), but there's a lot of history involved in the tour which makes it very interesting.  It's not the same-old, same-old "this is how we make wine" kind of tour.  One of my dad's favorite points was knowing that scenes from the TV show "Combat" were filmed across the street from the winery, in the vineyards, because the owners needed someone to blow up the old redwood stumps!  Gotta love my dad!

End of Tour Wine Tasting on Korbel's patio.

Then at the end of the tour, they serve you a flight of bubbly from several Korbel bottles.  It's where we fell in love with Korbel Natural'.  Up until that point, we had never tasted that bottle, as I believe it's sold exclusively on site.  And... it's a budget-friendly purchase (about $12 for a bottle).  Additionally, Korbel puts the whole package together with their very own Delicatessen.  In the heart of the redwood forests, you can purchase a bottle of bubbly, some sandwiches and snacks, and enjoy a romantic (or friendly fun) mid-afternoon picnic at a sparkling wine house.  Menu is such:

Let's put it this way - you could spend $25 per person to get into some other well known winery and do a flight of 5 tastings per person.  That's a total of $50 per person.  OR you could visit Korbel - a beautiful car ride over the Mayacamas mountain ranges into Sonoma County - and spend $25 on a bottle of sparkling wine (let's say $10), and 2 gourmet sandwiches!  Plus, it beats breaking the penny bank to go to one of Napa's high end restaurants (not that they aren't worth it in their own right).  I'm just saying, if you want the California Wine Country experience for less - Korbel is your answer.  Bonus: the bubbly is fantastic!

The Redwoods at Korbel - YOU could be eating a nice 
deli-style lunch with bubbly under these!  =)


  1. I'm a "dear" co-worker?! I feel the same about you! I agree, Natural' under the redwoods is quite nice. That is my favorite of their line-up. Of course, the History lesson is endearing to me as well.

  2. I think it's all relative... If I had your kind of money I could afford the drive to Korbel but "in this economy" ;) the Red Rock in Napa is a "high end" resturaunt with $1 corkage but you must bring your own glasses! There are no Redwoods and the bathroom is outside but - that's real value!