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Wineries are a central part of local culture, just as much as museums, concert halls and restaurants. So during the holidays, when locals want to take out-of-town visitors on a fun-filled outing, or just need a change of scene themselves, they head out to visit wineries.
You’ll find wine tastings and winery tours by the dozens. But at many wineries, you’ll find a lot more, whether it’s the beautiful gardens at Ferrari-Carano in Healdsburg or the fine art on display at the Hess Collection Winery in Napa.
In Geyserville, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, named for its founder, the director of the “Godfather” films and “Apocalypse Now,” features a new and novel attraction, installed last month.
The outdoor pool is closed to swimmers for the winter, but would-be sailors can pilot remote-controlled boats on the water from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, as part of this season’s “Diamond Yacht Club” attraction.
“We have miniature speedboats, a couple of pirate ships and a scale-model aircraft carrier,” said Alyson White, director of hospitality at the winery. “The speedboats go really fast. You see them bouncing off the side of the pool. It’s fun to see the kids playing with them, and the adults, with everybody laughing.”
As you wander around the winery, you’ll also see Coppola’s five Oscar statuettes and other memorabilia of his career on display.
For the holidays, there are weekend crafts classes from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays during December, where all visitors of ages can make snowflakes and snow globes, or decorate cookies.
Winery hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Closed Dec. 24-25. 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville. 857-1400, franciscoppolawinery.com.
Other wineries that make worthwhile day-trip destinations include:
Ferrari-Carano Winery. Fans of flora and vino could go to a botanical garden or a winery, or just cover both with a trip to Ferrari-Carano. There’s a formal English-French parterre-style garden outside the Villa Fiore hospitality center, and there’s also a more intimate enclosed garden with pathways meandering among 2,000 species of trees and shrubs, as well foot bridges, a koi pond and a rose garden.
8761 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg. Winery hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Closed Dec. 24-25, Dec. 31-Jan. 1. 433-6700, ferrari-carano.com.
The Hess Collection Winery. For those who appreciate fine art, as well as the art of making wine, here’s a destination that offers both. Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess began collecting art in 1966, and gave the public access to his collection with the 1989 opening of the winery, which houses just part of a huge collection that is shown in museums worldwide. Featured artists include Robert Motherwell, a founding member of the American school of Abstract Expressionism.
Winery hours: 10 a.m-5:30 p.m. daily. Holiday hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31. Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. 4411 Redwood Road, Napa. 255-1144 email@example.com.
Domaine Carneros. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the winery is perched atop a hill and known for its sweeping views of the Carneros region. Designed after the Chateau de la Marquetterie in Reims, France, Domaine Carneros offers table service from its outdoor patio or inside dining room, including wine samplers, cheese plates, charcuterie and a selection of caviar and smoked salmon. A pastry plate is also offered.
1240 Duhig Road, Napa. Winery hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Holiday hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31; noon-6 p.m Jan. 1. Closed Dec. 25. 257-0101, domainecarneros.com.
VJB Vineyards & Cellars. As a tribute to their Neapolitan roots, the Belmonte family has created their own food and wine mecca at the new tasting room. Centered around a small but authentic-looking piazza, the complex includes a tasting room adjacent to a marketplace and deli, an outdoor pizza oven and demonstration kitchen, a gelateria and chocolate bar, plus a large barrel room and private tasting room for special events.
Winery hours: 10 a.m to 5 p.m. daily, with a 3 p.m. closing Dec. 24 and 31. Closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. 60 Shaw Ave., Kenwood. 833-2300, vjbcellars.com.
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Press Democrats features staff writers contributed to this story.
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