Wine and spirits tastings rank among our favorite activities when we travel. They frequently introduce us to fascinating people, and we almost always have the chance to sample something we would have a hard time finding elsewhere. Nor does it hurt that wineries and distilleries are often set in some of the world’s loveliest landscapes and most vibrant cities, respectively. In 2021, our most memorable experiences included a superlative wine-pairing lunch in Sonoma, tastings in Tuscany, a visit to a unique distillery in Texas and magical dinner in Portugal at harvest time.
Lunch at Cāpo Creek
Located along a picturesque winding road in California’s tranquil Dry Creek Valley, Cāpo Creek opened to visitors in 2018. Its shady hillside patio overlooks a plot of old Zinfandel vines stretching to the opposite side of the valley, and on the day we visited, we had that splendid view entirely to ourselves. Owner Mary Roy creates the delicious lunches served here, paired with her superb wines. A full-bodied blend of Grenache Blanc and Viognier, for example, both mirrored and cut through the fattiness of squash gratin with fontina. A mozzarella-stuffed piquillo pepper with a balsamic reduction brought out the peppery side of some surprisingly tannic Grenache Noir. And the superlative, well-integrated “Eva’s Vineyard” Old Vine Zinfandel had dark fruit enhanced by a note of sweet tobacco. It was an ideal foil for a savory fontina-filled kolacky. The warm welcome, fine wines, idyllic views and exclusivity of the experience made this my favorite winery lunch on my trip to Sonoma.