One of the premier champagneries in Napa Valley, Domaine Chandon (1 California Dr., Yountville, 707/944-2280, www.chandon.com, Mon.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., $16) offers one of the best tours in all of Napa—it’s a perfect introduction to the process of wine and champagne-making.
Walk out into the vineyards to look at the grapes, head down to the tank- and barrel-filled cellars to learn about the champagne-making process, then proceed into the aging rooms to see the racked bottles, tilted and dusty, aging to the point of drinkability.
Finally, you’ll adjourn to the tasting room to sample the bubbly concoctions. Chandon also makes still wines, which you can also taste. Reservations are required for tours, and making those reservations in advance is a good idea.
Domaine Chandon also boasts lovely gardens, a stream, and an immense estate. Visitors can walk the open paths between vineyards, enjoy the delights of the tasting room (fee for tasting without a tour), and make a reservation for dinner at Étoile, the on-site California-French restaurant.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition