Cruising north through the Napa Valley on Highway 29, you may not be aware of the vineyard near Oakville known as To Kalon Vineyards. But be assured, it is the single most revered grape production appellation in California, maybe the world. Originally organized as a vineyard of 550 acres in the 1860s, parceled into some 90 acres by Beaulieu Vineyards in 1940, the present To Kalon is owned and farmed by Andy Beckstoffer who purchased it in 1993. Beckstoffer Vineyards is the largest and most respected family owner in Napa Valley, with pedigreed vineyards cultivating more than 1,000 premium acres. They sell only premium wine grapes to some 50 wineries, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Northern Coastal area. An interesting sidebar fact is that Robert Mondavi, when he opened his winery in Napa, purchased a slice of To Kalon, which his winery still owns. The “terroir” of To Kalon or more commonly the soil of the vineyard has been refined and enhanced by close examination of the microclimate conditions. Beckstoffer asserted that “we’re dealing today with the microclimate of the grape cluster, how many leaves are shading that cluster and what the humidity level is. We are farming by the cluster. We have weather and moisture sensors, all sorts of ways to track the grapes.”
It really comes down to the soil of To Kalon with its gravelly loam with some clay, which gives the owners juicier grape cluster size with an intense fruit taste that defines classic Napa Cabernet. To Kalon is a Greek phrase meaning “beauty at its highest.” The wines are inspiring and it would be smart to ask for Napa Cabs from the To Kalon Vineyard, found on the labels of some of the finest premium wines out of the Napa Valley. Look for To Kalon in the following: Schrader, one of the hottest producers and a world-beating top 20 wine at Wine Spectator; Paul Hobbs; Provenance; Kitchak; Marshall Cellars; and some 45 other labels that make sure their grapes are sourced from To Kalon. To learn more, access www.beckstoffervineyards.com
Temecula Wine Country’s signature B&B
It seems Wine Country Temecula is growing daily. Visitors have two choices: cram in five or six wineries and risk a tipsy ride back to where they came from, or plan a one- or two-night relaxed, rustic stay at Loma Vista Bed and Breakfast, in the heart of wine country.
Karl and Connie Sweigart have set the table for the perfect at-home experience at Loma Vista. This peaceful retreat, just up the road from Baily’s Winery, offers 10 rooms, all with a wine theme, designed to fully appreciate the wine country experience. The pricing is easy to take and depends on which of the lovely rooms you select: from the Zinfandel Room with its spacious Queen Anne traditional, to the Cabernet Sauvignon Room, their largest, with its own private entrance, brick fireplace, large Jacuzzi tub and French doors that open to a splendid panoramic view of the vineyards and valley below.
The couple has a hands-on approach to hospitality, especially when it comes to the hot breakfast for their guests each morning. With the smell of hot coffee and biscotti wafting through the B&B, an appetite for breakfast develops very quickly.
Both Sweigarts are tuned in to the best of wine country and can expertly steer their guests to a maximum amount of fun and education with the dozens of wineries in the area. “Mi casa, su casa” is the motto of Loma Vista Bed and Breakfast. Learn more by calling toll free at (877) 676-7047 or accessing www.lomavistabb.com.
— Belle Marie Winery in Escondido is having a year-end and pre-release party from 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 27 that is free of charge. The newest and best wines will be tasted before being offered to the public. For details, call (760) 796-7557.
— Falkner Winery in Temecula Wine Country is running a 3-for-2 sale on all wines until New Year’s Day. No quantity limitations. Available only in the wine tasting room. Call (951) 676-8232.
— Vino 100 in San Marcos has a Napa Wine Tasting from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 26 and Dec. 27. Cost is $15 per person. Call (760) 591-9113 for details.
— Champagne is the tasting sensation at the WineSellar & Brasserie in Sorrento Valley, San Diego from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 27. Held upstairs in their restaurant, you can also order a lunch to pair with the champagnes. The cost is $36 for the tastings, an additional $12.50 for the lunch. Call (858) 450-9557 for reservations.
— Four Seasons Aviara Argyle Steakhouse has a New Year’s Eve celebration from 7 p.m. to midnight Dec. 31. There will be a four-course gourmet dinner with live music. The Argyle is completely redesigned in a California Coastal format to match the lagoon view. Call (760) 603-3773 for RSVPs. The cost is $180 each.
— Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp, San Diego, has an “after Christmas Sale” tasting from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 27 and from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 28. Value Cabs, Zins, Chardonnay and bubbly will be marked way down. Tasting is $10 each. Call for details at (619) 236-0005.