Knight Wine Tours

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Napa Valley  -  Sonoma 
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHERE TO STAY
Selected customer favorites with images, locations & links

ABOUT TOURS
Why take a private guided tour versus self-guided or group tour?

What about a Designated Driver service?

Are there additional costs?

When do tours begin?

How long do tours last?

Can we get lunch or a snack during the day?

Can I choose some of the wineries to visit?

How many wineries will I visit on a private tour?

How do I get an "over-the-top" experience in wine country?

TASTING ROOMS
Do we need an appointment?

Are tasting rooms and servers intimidating?

Is is customary to Tip tasting room hosts/servers?

What goes on in a wine tasting?

What does a wine tasting cost?

Are there any free wine tastings?

How do I avoid getting "tipsy" visiting wineries?

If I buy wine, how do I get it home?

THINGS TO DO AT WINERIES
Can we get an educational winery tour?

Can we see a wine cave?

Can we see winemaking in progress?

Can we meet a winemaker?

Can we have lunch at a winery?

Can we make our own wine?

GETTING AROUND
How do I get to the wineries and local destinations?

How far is wine country from San Francisco?

How do I get from San Francisco or airports to wine country?

What airport is recommended for visiting wine country?

What is traffic like getting around wine country?

FAMILIESKIDSPETS
Are there things to do for non-wine-drinkers?

Are there things to do for families and kids?

Are pets allowed in the tasting rooms or on tours?

SEASONS
What should I wear?

What is the weather like at different times of year?

What is the peak season and best time of year to visit?

Do people come to wine country in winter?

TO DO - DININGSHOPPINGCULINARYSPASPORTS

Do I need to make restaurant reservations?

What unique culinary experiences are available?

How's the shopping?

What's it like in downtown Napa? Sonoma? Healdsburg?

Are there any hiking, biking or trail rides on horseback?

How do I arrange a spa appointment?

What golf, tennis and cycling options are available?
SOME FUN WINE FACTS
  • California produces 90% of wine in the U.S.
  • Napa Valley produces about 4% of California wine
  • There are 390 physical wineries in Napa County producing over 1,000 different brands
  • 95% of wineries in Napa are family-owned
  • There are 700 grape growers in Napa County
  • 67% of Napa wineries produce <5,000 cases annually
  • Sonoma County has about 300 wineries
  • First grapes planted in Napa Valley - 1838
  • First premium winery in the U.S. - Buena Vista, Sonoma
  • Biggest cash crop in Napa Valley before grapes - plums
  • Napa County acreage planted in vineyards - 9%
  • Cost of a premium vineyard acre in Napa - Up to $300,000

  • Age of vines before full grape production - 4 to 5 years
  • Grape clusters on a vine - 30-40
  • Tons of grapes per acre - 4 tons, but varies widely
  • Barrels per ton - 2
  • Cases per 60-gallon barrel - 25
  • Bottles per barrel - 300
  • Grape clusters per bottle - 4 to 5
  • Cost of a premium French oak barrel - $1500

  • "Bud-break" begins the growing season, March-April
  • Harvest is once a year from mid-August though October
  • "Vintage" is the year grapes were harvested
  • The vintage is printed on the wine label 
  • The source of grapes is printed on the wine label 
  • A grape varietal is on the wine label if 75% of the grapes
  • An appellation on the label must be 80% of the grapes 
  • Red wines are aged about 18-24 months before bottling
  • 1-to-4 years before a grape harvest hits store shelves

WINE TASTING – A SOMMELIER'S METHOD*
Purpose: Examine, describe & form a conclusion on wine
Benefit: Consistent method, form your own taste reference
Approach: Focus, take more time, notes, spit/dump okay
Deductive Criteria: Sight – Nose – Palate - Conclusion
SIGHT
Clarity – cloudy, clear, sediment
Brightness – dull, day bright, star bright, brilliant
Color/Whites: clear, straw, yellow, gold, brown
Color/Rose: pink, orange, brown
Color/Reds: purple, ruby red, garnet, orange, brown 
Rim Variation vs. Body: clear, medium, solid
Viscosity: tears, sheets, none (inside glass)
NOSE
Obvious Flaws?: clean, fresh, pungent, sulpher, musty
Intensity: delecate, moderate, powerful
Age Assess: youthful, evolving, full character (“vinous”)
Fruit & Non-fruit Aromas: primary, secondary
Earth/mineral: stone, chalk, dust/leaves, mushroom, soil
Wood: old-new / French (vanilla), American (dill, bourbon)
PALATE
Sweetness: bone dry, dry, off-dry, slightly sweet, desert
Body: light, medium, dull
Fruit: confirms nose or different
Wood: vanilla, stems, twigs, nutty
Alcohol: low(soft), medium, medium+, high(heat)
Tannin: low(silky), medium, high(tart, sour)
Complexity: Low, medium, high (number of aromas & flavors)
CONCLUSIONS
Grape varieties & styles / old-world, new-world / age range
Balance, depth, layers of flavor, lingering taste, silky or tart
Everyone has different taste; notice the type of wine YOU like

*Tim Gaiser-Master Sommelier, Napa Valley Wine Academy, 
Adapted by KNIGHT WINE TOURS