(Courtesy of Domaine Carneros)

Toast National Pinot Noir Day at These Carneros Wineries

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Squeezed inbetween Napa and Sonoma sits the quiet Carneros wine region, known for its rolling hills, panoramic views of the San Pablo Bay, and a constant cool breeze that favors pinot noir grapes, one of the trickiest varietals to grow. In honor of National Pinot Noir Day (August 18), take the weekend to explore this charming slice of wine country and sip some of the best pinot noir within reach. Here are four wineries to factor into your visit.



Domaine Carneros

You probably recognize Domaine Carneros for their famous bubbly and the massive Chateaux that sits along Highway 12. But few know that they also have a dedicated still wine program of pinot noir, with four current offerings all sourced from their estate Carneros vineyards. Seated tastings take place at intimate tables on the balcony, offering flights of sparkling wine, pinot noir, or a combination of the two. The blanc de noir is made from 100 percent pinot noir grapes, which are fermented without the skins so that the wine loses its red color. Pairing plates of cheese, charcuterie, smoked salmon or caviar are also available for an extra cost. // Domaine Carneros, by appointment only, 1240 Duhig Rd. (Napa), domainecarneros.com

(Courtesy of Donum Estate)

The Donum Estate

Formerly a dairy farm dating back to 1870, your private wine tasting will take place in the chic, refurbished, and recycled milk barn at Donum Estate. Sip, compare, and then marvel at the differences between four pinots of the same vintage, made by the same winemaker, but sourced from four different vineyards in Russian River, Anderson Valley, and Carneros. Take your last glass on an outdoor art walk and check out Donum's collection of renowned sculptures, including a colossal circle of zodiac heads and "Non-Violence," a gun with a knotted barrel that was created when John Lennon was killed. Don't leave without saying hello to the two rescue donkeys. // The Donum Estate, by appointment only, 24500 Ramal Rd. (Sonoma), thedonumestate.com

(Courtesy of Bouchaine)

Bouchaine

Stroll into this refreshingly casual tasting room—they welcome walk-ins, unlike most of their neighbors—and recline comfortably on the shaded back porch or in the sunny Dee's Garden. They'll even encourage you to pick a few grapes right off the estate vineyards for a pre-harvest taste. Then taste from Bouchaine's diverse selection of traditonal pinot noir (almost all sourced from Carneros) as well as their special vin gris of pinot noir, a dry rosé made from pinot noir grapes that's perfect for summer sipping by the pool. Continue the celebration back home when you take advantage of 25% off select pinot's in honor of National Pinot Noir Day. // Bouchaine, walk-ins welcome, 1075 Buchli Station Rd. (Napa), bouchaine.com


(Courtesy of Cuvaison)

Cuvaison

A visit to Cuvasion is worth it for the views alone. The uber-modern glass house tasting room may look completely out of place among the vineyards and hills that surround it on all sides, but the pinot noir is sure to remind you where you are. The wine flight includes an easy-drinking estate pinot noir, but we suggest politely asking if you can compare it to the Spire, a rich single block pinot reserved for club members that'll awaken your taste buds. Just beware, you'll likely end up taking a bottle or two home. // Cuvaison, by appointment only, 1221 Duhig Rd. (Napa), cuvaison.com

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