Can “Better” and “Best” wines be found at “Destination” Wineries?

My brother-in-law was in town from Vancouver, B.C. (he lives about 2 hours from Vancouver’s wine country in Okanagan), and he and my wife were chatting about going wine tasting.  It became obvious pretty quickly that Napa is held in high esteem in Vancouver.  And with over 3 million tourists a year, there’s no denying Napa’s cachet.  After all Napa invented high-quality wine tourism.

We decided to go to a couple of “destination” wineries, Sterling, and Castello di Amorosa (click here for video) before taking a break for lunch.

We picked up a great lunch some at The Model Bakery in St. Helena, then headed to an“anti-destination” winery Ehlers Estate (easily the best wines of the day!) for a picnic.  After lunch, our final stop of the day was at what I’d call a “quasi-destination” winery, Artesa, owned by the Codorniu Group of Spain.  Why quasi? Even though our motivation for going to Artesa was to see the property, I’d really enjoyed some of their wines on a previous visit.

It was a fun day, though I must confess, I’m not a big fan of “Destination” wineries, mostly because I’ve “been there, and done that”, and I’m all about the wine these days.  What do I consider to be a “destination” winery?  For me it’s a winery where the primary attraction is something other than their wines.  At Sterling, it’s the gondola ride up the hillside to the beautiful Greek inspired architecture of the property, and the awe-inspiring views of the Napa Valley.  It’d been 10-15 years since I’d been to Sterling, and I must say I was impressed by the property and the views.  In the case of Castello di Amoroso, it’s the castle (click here for video).

Of course good wine, and an attraction don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but in my experience, better, and best wines generally aren’t found at “destination” wineries.

My brother-in-law, Melvin Yulo, took some great photos of our day trip.  Click on the pics to enlarge.

What do you think of destination wineries?  Have you been to a destination winery with great wines?   Leave a comment and let me know!  Cheers!