Summary of Wine Tasting Articles

Wine tasting in New Zealand

The following are a list of wineries which are an excellent choice if you're planning a Wine tasting trip in New Zealand.

All have a reputation for very good wine and most have had consistently positive reviews following visits on Some like Pyramid Valley and Greywacke need to have tastings pre-arranged.


Wairarapa (North Island)

Three sub-regions; Martinborough, Masterton and Gladstone

Porters, Masterton, Martinborough

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648 Homewood Road,
Masterton, RD 12,
New Zealand.

Contact: Annabel or John Porter +64 6 372 3717,

The Porters vineyard was a bare and stony paddock, until planted in vines by Annabel & John Porter in 1992. They made their first vintage in 1995 and have adopted organic principles and practices wherever possible.  Sprays are kept to the bare minimum.

Porter's offer accommodation to give visitors an opportunity to take in the sights of Masterton and their excellent Pinot Noir. The vineyard is a  few minutes walk from Martinborough village square with its shops, galleries, wine merchants and exclusive restaurants. 

Winemaker's loft - A luxury modern double apartment in the loft. Complete with the original matai flooring and dormer windows, its french doors open onto a balcony with panoramic views of neighbouring vineyards. $190 for one night, $160 for 2+ nights

Pruners Cottage - This is a very simple option for overnight stay with a double bed & bathroom. No cooking facilities – apart from tea & coffee… and wine of course! $100 per couple per night.

Contact: Jackie or Tanya
Martinborough Reservation Services
Tel: +64 6 379 9219
Mobile: 027 679 3040



Fromm Winery, Blenheim


15 Godfrey Road, RD 2, Blenheim 7201, Phone +64 (0)3 572 9355, 

Visit the Fromm Winery Cellar Door and you can the opportunity to taste the current release wines together with some older vintage library releases. They also have some wines available only for Mail Order and Cellar Door customers.

From October to April Fromm are open seven days from 11am to 5pm for tastings and wine sales. During May to September they are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm and at other times by appointment.

Clos Henri Vineyard, Blenheim

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639 State Highway 63, Blenheim 7271, New Zealand

The tasting room is open 1st October to 30th April, Monday to Friday 10am-4pm or by appointment.

Clos Henri, Blenheim, Tripadvisor

Greywacke is the Marlborough label of Kevin Judd, and the fulfilment of a long held dream. The name Greywacke was adopted by Kevin and his wife Kimberley for their first Marlborough vineyard located in Rapaura, named in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywacke river stones in the soils of the vineyard. Kevin registered the name back in 1993 with the vague notion that he might one day want to use it on a wine label of his own.

The wines are made by Kevin at Dog Point Winery in the lower Brancott Valley, a facility extended to him by long-standing friends and industry colleagues, Ivan Sutherland and James Healy. The Greywacke portfolio is primarily based on two varieties, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, the sauvignon blanc being produced in two distinctly different styles. In addition to this core range of three wines, there are also limited edition releases of chardonnay, and three aromatic varieties – pinot gris, riesling and gewurztraminer.

Kevin Judd  was born in England and grew up in Australia, where he studied winemaking at Roseworthy College and first made wine at Reynella in South Australia. He moved to New Zealand in 1983 and joined Selaks Wines. Subsequently, he became the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay, a pivotal role during which he directed the company’s first 25 vintages. In 2009 he established his own label, Greywacke.

There is no cellar door but given sufficient notice and availability the team are happy to receive visitors by prior appointment only. Great wines, so worth a visit.

Villa Maria Wine Cellars, Blenheim & Auckland

New Renwick Road | Fairhall, Blenheim 7201,New Zealand
Phone Number: +64 3 520 8472

Villa Maria Bleinheim, Marlborough

+64 3 520 8470, 

Corner of Paynters and New Renwick Roads, Fairhall, Blenheim. The winery and Cellar Door are close to Marlborough's central vineyard area and only a short drive from Blenheim airport.

Open 7 days a week for wine tasting and sales. 10:00am to 5:00pm
(12:00pm to 5:00pm on the weekends between June and September)

Closed on the following public holidays: Christmas Day - 25 December 2013, Boxing Day - 26 December 2013, New Year's Day - 1 January 2014

Villa Maria Auckland Winery

118 Montgomerie Rd, Mangere 2153, New Zealand
Phone Number: 0064 9 255 0660

+64 9 255 0666,

Open 9:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm Weekends.  9.00am to 4.00pm: Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th & Thursday 31st December 2015

Café and Cellar Door closed on the following dates: New year’s day and January 2nd16th January (Six60)

Tours depart from Cellar Door at 11am and 3pm daily.The tour provides a background history of the winery, and follows the wine making process through to the bottling hall, with videos to illustrate. Cost - $5 per person.

The Auckland Vineyard Café is open 7 days for lunch, serving food and wines

Cloudy bay winery tasting

Visitors to Cloudy Bay's cellar door can purchase a  light lunches of local seasonal cuisine within its outdoor wine lounge and picnics are welcome.

Exclusive and limited release wines are included in the tasting range. Open daily for tastings and sales, 10am to 4pm. Closed: Good Friday, Christmas Day and until 1pm on Anzac Day.  

A private tasting hosted in The Shack, Cloudy Bay’s on site guest house, by a Senior member of the Cellar Door team is also available. Wines will vary according to guests’ interests, including back vintages upon request. From $110 per person. Bookings required, email for a reservation.

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80 Hammerichs Road, Blenheim 7240, New Zealand
Phone Number: 64 (0) 3 579 6430.

Rock ferry wines, blenheim


Rock Ferry wines is owned by Tom Hutchison and produces wines from three vineyards in the South Island – two in Marlborough and one in Bendigo, one of the warmer sub regions of Central Otago but at an altitude of 400 metres. Rock Ferry are certified organic and also follow biodynamic principles. With this in mind, the land came first in 2005, then four years later once the rhythms of the land were understood, the winery was built and two years after that, Tom and Fiona opened  the cellar door and vineyard café in Marlborough in September 2011.

The café is based around seasonally inspired cooking and the organically grown wines. Open from 10.00am to 4.30pm with lunch available from 11.30am to 3.00pm seven days a week.

Closed all statutory holidays. Email:, Bookings are recommended for dining.

B&B accommodation is available, see

Rock Ferry Wines, Blenheim, Tripadvisor


81 Jeffries Road, Blenheim 7273, New Zealand
+64 3-572 8770

Hans Herzog is a family owned New Zealand winery and restaurant and their roots lie in Switzerland where the family has grown wine since 1630. There Hans and Therese owned the successful 'Taggenberg' vineyard and restaurant in the Zurich wine country. Looking for a new challenge, in the mid 1990's they planted an 11 hectare vineyard bordering the Wairau River here in Marlborough and later moved the winery and Michelin-starred restaurant.

Here Hans has adopted an experimentalist stance with grape varieties, including Arneis, Barbera, Tempranillo and Zweigel all organically grown.

The Bistro restaurant is a great way to enjoy the estate wines and the food and there is the cellar door lounge.

Open 14th October to 15th May:
Lunch - Wednesday to Sunday from 12pm to 3pm ,Dinner - Wednesday to Sunday 6pm to late (last bookings 8pm)

They are open year round for tastings and wine sales - Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and at weekends from mid-October to mid-May from 11am to 4pm.  There is a wine tour every day at 12:30pm and Wednesday to Sunday at 6pm with a tour of the winery and barrel hall together with a tasting of three of Hans' wines. As spaces are limited, bookings are essential. 30 mins Cost: $15pp 

Hans Herzog Blenheim Tripadvisor
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548 Pyramid Valley Rd, Pyramid Valley 7491

The cellar door at Pyramid Valley is open by appointment but with the wines being so good it is worth the effort to contact the winery. All tours and tastings highlight Pyramid Valley Vineyards biodynamic production philosophies and intent in detail.

The tasting room is the oldest building on the property and was originally a 1920’s carriage stable. Open by appointment from October to March (Thursday through Saturday) with tours provided on  Saturday from 9.30am-11.30am. 

There is also the option for visitors to create their own picnic from the winery's deli offerings and to enjoy this in the estate gardens. The platters are a selection of the best cheeses and cured meats that have been put together to match the wines. 

The following options are available:

Option 1 - Tasting of a selection of Pyramid Valley Home Collection and Growers Collection wines. Cost $25 per person.

Option 2 - Tasting of a selection of Pyramid Valley Home Collection and Growers Collection wines complimented by a cheese board prepared from the estate. Cost $45 per person.

Option 3 - Biodynamic vineyard/winery tour and tasting maximum 20 people by appointment every Saturday from 9.30am-11.30am. From October to March. This tour takes you on an extensive journey to experience all that Pyramid Valley has to offer. This is a full estate, vineyard and farm tour followed by an indepth discussion and teaching of how biodynamics is prepared and practiced on the property. This continues into a tour of the winery and teaching of natural winemaking techniques that have been uniquely developed by the estate. This leads into a cellar door tasting of a selection of Home Collection and Growers Collection wines, complimented by a platter prepared from the onsite deli. This personalized tour is run by one of our winemaking team. Bookings are essential. The cost is $70 per person. This is a not to be missed experience for the wine enthusiast.

Bookings can be made at: or by calling Office +64 3 3142006   or  Mobile 027 5004451

Accommodation is also available. Weersings Retreat is our vineyard cottage at the rear of the property that has been luxuriously developed throughout to provide a professional cosy retreat in the country. The cottage can accommodate two people in the queen size bed.

Pegasus Bay Winery, Christchurch

Stockgrove Rd, RD 2, Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone Number: 64 3 314 6869

Visitors to the Pegasus Bay winery can taste a large selection of current vintage wines including many from the reserve range and they say "You will find our cellar door hosts knowledgeable and professional while at the same time friendly, relaxed and accommodating — in true Pegasus Bay style! "

While tasting, guests can take a  look at the barrel hall and wine cellars and at any time could catch a glimpse of what goes on in a true “working winery”. There is usually a selection of aged wines available for sale on the cellar release blackboard selected from the family wine library when they are reaching full maturity. 

There is an excellent restaurant for lunch and dinner with a very good selection of wines or tastings can be done anytime between 10am to 5pm, 7 days a week. The restaurant is open from 12 noon to 4pm, 7 days a week and bookings are recommended (+64 3 314 6869) or (Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st and 2nd of January.)

The Waipara Valley is 35 minutes drive north of Christchurch. If approaching from Christchurch, turn right into Stockgrove Road before you enter the Waipara township. The Restaurant and winery are sign-posted on Stockgrove Rd.

Central Otago

Suggested wine tasting routes around Central Otago:

  • From Queenstown to the Gibbston sub-region, travel through to Cromwell, Lowburn and Bannockburn and return. 
  • From Queenstown - through Gibbston, Cromwell/Bannockburn to Wanaka and return via the Crown Range.
  • From Cromwell through Bannockburn, Bendigo, Wanaka,  Lowburn and return to Cromwell.
  • From Alexandra  to Clyde/Earnscleugh, Alexandra and Springvale subregion. 

Chard Farm Winery, Queenstown

205 Chard Rd, Gibbston 9371, New Zealand

Chard Farm was established in 1987 by Motueka brothers Rob & Greg Hay. They were the first to enter the Queenstown area with the intention of setting up a commercial vineyard. Rob studied winemaking in Germany for three years in the early eighties before returning to New Zealand in 1985 to search for the “terroir” that best emulated the cool continental climate and soils of some of the greatest wine producing areas of the world – most notably the Burgundy and Alsace regions of France. That search lead to Central Otago. The winery was constructed in 1993 and has the capacity to process around 250 tonnes of grapes annually with emphasis on whole bunch pressing

A chance to to try pinot noir, pinot gris,chardonnay, gewurztraminer, riesling, sauvignon blanc. 

Chard Farm is on the outskirts of Queenstown, on the way to Wanaka, and Cromwell. The entrance is 100 metres past the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bungy Bridge. 20 minutes drive from Queenstown.

The Cellar door is open for tastings 7 days a week.  Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm, Saturday/Sunday 11am - 5pm
(closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Good Friday. Open 1pm Anzac Day).Groups of 6 or more -  ring for an appointment. on  (03) 441 8452

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Bannockburn, R.D., Cromwell, Central Otago, Phone Number: 445 0885

Wooing Tree Vineyard, Cromwell

7 Westmoreland Place, Cromwell, 9310, Tel +64 3 445 4142

Wooing Tree is a family owned single vineyard site, situated in the heart of Central Otago next to the town of Cromwell. The 26 ha single vineyard site has 18 ha planted in mainly Pinot Noir of multiple rootstocks. The site is owned by Stephen and Thea Farquharson and Stephen's sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Geoff Bews.

A tree on the land called ‘the Wooing Tree’ had long been a popular place for locals to woo their lovers. The impending removal of the tree for the vineyard prompted locals to campaign to save the tree. It turned out it had a special place in locals’ hearts and there were even stories of people being conceived under the tree. When the family learnt of its history and local importance, it was decided the tree had to stay and that this was the obvious name for the vineyard and image for the wine label. Now the tree sits prominently in the middle of the vineyard and it is becoming a popular place for marriage proposals and weddings. 

Cellar Door, open 7 days, 10am to 5 pm, (11am to 4pm May, June and July...Wine Tasting & Sales). Closed Dec 25th, 26th and Jan 1st

Mt. Difficulty Wines, Bannockburn
73 Felton Road, Bannockburn, Cromwell9384 , New Zealand +64 3-445 3445

The Cellar Door at Mt Difficulty has great views of Bannockburn's dramatic rugged rock and thyme landscape since it sits high above the winery on Felton Road, perched on a rocky outcrop looking across the Cromwell basin to Lake Dunstan. The new Cellar Door extension opened in May 2012.

Wine tasting – a full range of Mt Difficulty and Roaring Meg wines to taste (tasting charge is a gold coin – $1 or $2). Casual wine tastings do not require a booking. For wine tasting enquiries contact or phone +64 3 445 3445 ext 1.

Open seven days a week from 10.30am-4.30pm with summer hours operating from Christmas to Easter: 10.30-5.30pm. Closed on January 1st, Good Friday (the Friday prior to Easter weekend), ANZAC Day, April 25th

The Judge Rock vineyard and winery grew from an idea that with love of the land and attention to detail the site would make great Pinot Noir and St Laurent.
They are a very small operation and the only place they are visible is once a week at the OtagoFarmers Market Dunedin on a Saturday morning at the historic railway station. This is their cellar door but a B&B cottage is available to rent. See

Recommended wineries to visit on a wine tasting trip to Napa Valley

Napa Valley wineries to visit on a wine tasting

For more information on the Napa Valley Wine region and its AVA's see

Grgich Hills Estate, Rutherford

Grgich hills estate, Rutherford, Napa Valley, Tripadvisor

Grgich Hills Estate • 1829 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573 • (707) 963-2784 •

A family-friendly winery that welcomes walk-in visitors in the main tasting room. Call  for availability at (707) 963-2784 or email for groups larger than eight. Open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm for tasting and sales with the exception of New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

Two flights are offered:

Napa Valley Flight: tasting of six Napa Valley Wines– $20

Miljenko’s Flight: tasting of six limited production and older vintage wines- $40

Grgich At A Glance– $35 per person. Aa walking tour and tasting to discover the history of Grgich Hills Estate, learn about the vineyards, and taste the wines.

Offered daily at 2pm, allow 45 minutes. Reservations are required. 

Seated Tasting- $50 per person. A private tasting on the patio or in one of the tasting rooms located in the winery. A host will guide through five limited production and specialty wines paired with artisan cheeses. Allow 45 minutes for this experience. Reservations are required. 

The Unforgettable– $65 per person
Designed by Vintners Hall of Fame inductee Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, the experience starts in the educational vineyard and follows the path of the estate grown grapes from vine to bottle.  Visitors discover why Mike calls this journey, “From our vineyards to your glass, naturally!” The tour concludes with a seated tasting of cheeses paired with five limited production and specialty wines. Allow 90 minutes for this experience. Reservations are required.

The Exclusive- $90 per person
An intimate and exclusive tasting of Grgich Hills Estate’s best kept secrets. A personal host will guide through a flight of six older vintage and limited production wines paired with artisan cheeses. This is a chance to taste and purchase wines that are rarely released from the winery vault in the private wine library.Allow 60 minutes for this experience. Reservations are required. 

Grape Stomp-$30 includes stomping, t-shirt and wine tasting

Visitors are invited to stomp grapes, just like Mike Grgich did when he was growing up in Croatia! After stomping and enjoying a flight of three Napa Valley wines, take home a souvenir t-shirt with your footprints!Typically offered September-October. Children are welcome to stomp and create a t-shirt of their own for $15.

Grgich hills estate, Rutherford, Napa Valley, Tripadvisor

Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville

7801 Saint Helena Highway, Oakville, CA 94562. Tel: (888) 766-6328, ext. 2

Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Store hours 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, Visitor Centre will close at 3:00 p.m. 

Robert Mondavi established his winery in 1966 and chose the To Kalon Vineyard located in Oakville as its home. The vineyard is renowned for producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon wines and for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes, from which Mondavi makes his signature wine, Fumé Blanc.

Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville, Tripadvisor

Shafer Vineyards, Napa

6154 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558.

By prior appointment only, each weekday morning and afternoon 10 or fewer guests are hosted for about 90 minutes, guests learn about the vineyards, approach to wine making, and history during a relaxed, sit-down tasting of five wines including the signature wine Hillside Select which guests can then buy (up to two bottles). The tasting visit is $55 per person.

Shafer Vineyards, Napa Valley, Tripadvisor

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Napa

5766 Silverado Trail, Napa CA 94558. Phone: 707.261.6410.

Open daily 10 am – 4:30 pm
Last tastings begin at 4:15 pm (excludes Fire & Water Tour and Tasting) 
Closed: Nov 26, Dec 24–25, 2015, Jan 1, 2016
Early Closure: Dec 12 (3:30 pm) 

Napa Valley Collection Tasting Flight, $25 per person - The Napa Valley flight features a collection of white and red wines sourced from the estate vineyards and other Napa valley growers that share Stag's Leap vision of quality.

Estate Collection Tasting Flight, $40 per person and with Cave Tour $60 - The Estate Collection flight showcases the finest wines from the FAY and SLV estate vineyards, including CASK 23.

Stag's Leap wine cellars, Napa Valley, tripadvisor

Failla Wines, St. Helena

3530 Silverado Trail North, St. Helena, CA 94574. 

By appointment only 707-963-0530 or complete form at , Tasting room is open every day (excluding major holidays), with appointments beginning at 10am, last appointment begins at 4pm.

Tasting Lodge $20/person - a 45-minute, sit down experience in the 1930's farmhouse with four wines. One tasting fee for each two bottles purchased.

Cave Tour  $30/person - Before a seated tasting in the Cave Hospitality area,visitors are taken on a walking tour of the property and the 15,000 square foot cave.  Five wines are poured--2 white, 3 red--during this 60 minute experience.  One tasting fee is waived for every two bottles purchased.

Spotlight tour $50/person - Each Spotlight is customised to the individual.  Six wines are poured over the course of 75 minutes with a focus on single vineyard wines.  One tasting fee is waived per 6 bottles purchased.

Failla wines, St. Helena, Napa valley, tripadvisor

Chappellet winery, St. Helena

1581 Sage Canyon Road, St. Helena, CA 94574, Phone: (707) 286-4219.

Advanced appointments are required. Experiences range in price from $35 to $75 per person. 7 days a week. Call 707.286.4219 or email

Visitors sample limited-production wines made for the Pritchard Hill Club, tour the historic facility and, if weather permits, walk in the vineyard. Amazing views from Pritchard Hill's oldest winery.

Chappellet winery, st. helena, napa valley, tripadvisor

Beaulieu Vineyard, Rutherford

1960 St. Helena Highway Rutherford, CA 94573 (800) 264-6918 x 5233

Premier Tasting($20/tasting) - The Maestro Collection wines offer variety and uniqueness to both the novice and the connoisseur taster. Flight includes choice of four wines from the Maestro Collection and other limited release wines. (For groups of less than 10).

Reserve Room - ($35/tasting) - Includes selections from the current release Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon's including a tasting of Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

Private Reserve Tasting Room ($75/tasting) - Intimate Reserve Tasting in your own private room for up to eight adults with each guest offered a flight of current and older vintage wines.

Inglenook winery, Rutherford

1991 St Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA 94573
Hours Bistro: 10am-5pm Chateau: 11am-5pm.

Heritage Tasting: Daily from 11:00am – 4:00pm, $45 per person, plus tax. 60 minutes. Parties limited to 10 guests
707-968-1161. Reserve online at

Overseen by wine educators in the Pennino Salon, vistors enjoy a seated tasting of Estate wines, including Rubicon, paired with artisan cheese. Advance reservations strongly recommended. 

Inglenook Experience : Offered Daily, $50 per person, plus tax. 90 minutes, Limited to 10 guests
707-968-1161. Reservations Online at:

Guests are escorted on a tour of the Chateau, vineyards, and Infinity caves, culminating in one of the private caves for a seated tasting paired with a selection of artisan cheeses. Advance reservations strongly recommended.

Inglenook winery, Rutherford, Napa Valley, Tripadvisor

Spottswoode family estate, St. Helena

1902 Madrona Avenue, St. Helena, California 94574
Monday–Friday, 9:00 am–5:00 pm, Closed Weekends and Major Holidays.

A seated tasting of the current vintages of Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon, and Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc
Length of visit: approximately 90 minutes. Fee: $60 per person (waived with purchase of six bottles)

Reservations recommended 4-6 weeks in advance on 707/963-0134 Monday–
Email Note: Spottswoode is closed on weekends and major holidays. Please make arrangements to leave children and pets at home.

Corison Winery, St. Helena

987 St. Helena Highway,  Saint Helena, CA 94574

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. by (707) 963-0826 or form at

"Corison Library Experience: Kronos Vineyard Tour & Library Cabernet Tasting" ($55 per person):  This signature tasting, features a guided tour of the winery and Kronos Vineyard followed by a formal seated tasting of older vintages from the Library of aged Cabernet Sauvignon. Throughout the year tours include seasonal vineyard updates and the opportunity to observe winemaking activities in our cellar. The selection changes often with vintages specially chosen to showcase the signature Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and, when available the Estate wine Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Fees are waived with any purchase of $300 (per tasting).

Corison winery, St. Helena, Napa Valley, Tripadvisor

Larkmead winery, Calistoga

1100 Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515
By Appointment Only with a limited number of tasting appointments available each day. (707) 942-0167,

Larkmead winery, Calistoga, Napa Valley, Tripadvisor

Joseph Phelps, St. Helena

200 Taplin Road, St. Helena, CA 94574, (800) 707-5789.

The winery offers "Terrace Tastings", "Exceptional Wine Experiences" and Private Tastings. Call the winery directly at (800) 707-5789 or (707) 967-3720 to book an appointment. All visits require a prior appointment and groups are limited to six or fewer.

A personalised seated tasting overlooking the estate vineyards with a selection of current release Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wines are offered, including Insignia. Limited to six guests per party. These tastings are offered Monday through Friday beginning at 10:00 a.m. with the last tasting beginning at 3:00 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, tastings begin at 10:00 a.m. with the last tasting beginning at 2:30 p.m. $75 per person. 

Seated Exceptional Wine Experience tastings are held at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm each day covering a variety of topics. All are semi-private and last 90 minutes. Limited to six guests per party. The cost per person is $100.

Private Tastings at Joseph Phelps Vineyards are tailored and conducted by one of the senior wine educators. Private Tastings must be booked well in advance. The cost per person is $125.

Frog's Leap Winery, Rutherford

Frog's Leap winery, Rutherford, Napa Valley, Tripadvisor

8815 Conn Creek Rd. Rutherford, CA 94573. Enquiries:

Open Daily from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. by appointment. 

Guided Tour and Tasting. $25 per person, sales tax included. Mon - Fri at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 appointment, 21 and older.

Signature Seating Tasting.  Daily from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
by appointment. The last seating is at 3:45 p.m.Taste through a flight of four current releases from the comfort of a private table on the back porch of The Vineyard House. Wine Specialists are on hand to guide you through the wines and share information about winemaking practices. $25 per person, sales tax included

Garden/Cellar Tasting. Fri - Sun from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m by appointment. Features four current releases and is hosted either in the Garden or inside the Barrel Cellar, weather dependent. $20 per person, sales tax included

Frog's Leap winery, Rutherford. Tripadvisor

Mumm Napa, Rutherford

Mumm Napa, Rutherford

8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford CA - 94573. 707-967-7700.

PATIO & TASTING SALON - Table service outside on the patio or taste in the salon with views of surrounding Rutherford vineyards in Napa Valley.Tastings are $18 to $25

OAK TERRACE TASTING-  A leisurely reserved seating with a chance to try Mumm's library of wines and take in the Rutherford views. $40 Guests | $32 Club Members

WINERY TOUR - The popular tour of Mumm Napa and the sparkling winemaking process lasts 45 minutes to an hour. $30 per guest (over 21) tasting and flute included; $10 per guest (under 21) no tasting

Mumm Napa Valley, TripAdvisor

Chateau Montelena, Calistoga

1429 TUBBS LANE | CALISTOGA, CA 94515 | (707) 942-5105

Tasting room - No reservation is needed for the Current Release Tasting, however, groups over 10 people are encouraged to call ahead or email 

Vineyard tour - $40 per person, Mondays and Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. 1 hour

Sensory Tasting Experience - $60 per person, Mondays at 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., 90 minutes. This experience includes a tasting of five wines, and a brief venture into the Estate vineyards, weather-permitting. 

Current Release Tasting - $25 per person, Daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Reservation not required but an indication on the time of arrival is appreciated. 

Beyond Paris and Hollywood - An experience provides guests with an insider's view of what really happened before, during, and after the actual 1976 Judgement of Paris Tasting and the early days of Chateau Montelena. With a comparative wine tasting. $40 per person, Thursdays at 9:45 a.m. Allow 75 minutes.Pre-paid advance reservations are essential.

Estate Tour - A guided walking tour through the beautiful grounds that make up the Montelena Estate. Sip and learn as the current release wines are served while exploring the property. $40 per person. Tuesdays and Sundays though April, at 10:00 a.m. 90 minutes The Estate Tour experience limited to 8 guests and is reserved exclusively for pre-paid adult guests.

Limited Release Tasting - Hosted in the private Library Room to showcase Chateau Montelena's long and distinguished history of producing fine wine. This is an opportunity to enjoy and purchase exclusive wines not commonly available in the marketplace. $50 per person, Daily at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. 1 hour. Limited to 8 guests and is reserved exclusively for pre-paid adults.

Chateau Montelena, Calistoga, TripAdvisor

Groth Vineyards and Winery, Oakville

750 Oakville Cross Road, Oakville, CA 94562
Phone Number: 707-944-0290

Tours and tasting by appointment Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday.

Reserve Tastings - consist of current-vintage Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Oakville Cabernet and Reserve Cabernet, and are offered between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. 45 minutes. $25 per person.

Tours of the vineyard, production facility and barrel room are offered Monday through Friday at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., and at 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays. Tours are followed with a Reserve tasting. 75 minutes. $25 per person.

"Rooted in Oakville" private experience consists of an in-depth tour of the vineyard, production facility and barrel room followed by a sit-down tasting of current vintage wines, a barrel sample of Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and a library vintage of Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. Appointments for the Rooted in Oakville experience can only be made by calling the tasting room at 707-754-4254.

Groth vineyards, oakville, tripadvisor



How to taste wine like a professional -The Five S technique of wine tasting

When tasting wine many wine experts use the 5S approach (Sight, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, and Savour) as the basis of their assessments.

1) Wine Tasting S Number 1: Sight


Sight may be the least important sense when it comes to evaluating a wine but it can give useful information about its age, condition and maturity. By looking at the colour and clarity of the wine it can tell you a lot about it. To best gauge a wine's appearance, tilt the glass slightly and look at the colour against a white background such as a tablecloth. Notice how the colour changes near the edge of the glass.

For example, the darker the wine, the more body it will typically have. A more viscous appearance can mean higher alcohol or depth of flavour. Young white wines are usually pale in colour whilst older ones become darker changing to gold and eventually to brown which would indicate that the wine is past its best.

Red wines change colour as they age. For example, purple changes to dark red, crimson, brick red and eventually brown. Density and depth of colour can indicate body and concentration but it really depends on the grape as paler varieties such as Pinot Noir can still look pale in the glass but be very concentrated in their aromas and flavours. 

The key questions to ask yourself when assessing a wine by sight is whether the wine looks bright, has good clarity and an inviting appearance. Cloudy, brown wine is generally to be avoided.

2+3) Wine Tasting S Number 2 and 3: Swirl and sniff


Then swirl the wine in the glass. Practice this to avoid spilling the wine all over yourself or someone else, because it’s important to wine geeks and it’s a good way to appear to be knowledgeable. But there is a point to this swirling as it encourages aroma molecules out of the glass, so you can smell them. It may look pretentious but without smelling a wine properly you are not evaluating it correctly,

When you smell the wine, you should look for the characteristic aromas of that particular grape or blend of grapes together with elements that come from oak e.g.  fruit, smoke, or vanilla. To help you do this there are wine aroma charts that summarise the most common combinations found in wine. 

Since a human's basic sense of taste only covers sweet, sour, bitterness and salt, the nose contributes much of what we say is taste. Subtlety of flavours, nuances of characteristics are largely detected through smell not what is directly on our tongue. For that reason don't open an expensive bottle of wine when you have a stinking cold or blocked nose.

4) Wine Tasting S Number 4: Sip


Much of a wine's character is revealed on the nose, but not everything. Now you need to taste the wine and it is important not to just have a big mouthful and swallow straight down. You should swirl it around the mouth to assess the true character as only then the acidity and tannins will be fully evident. Serving the wine at the right temperature is also important as too warm and aroma and flavour will be impaired, particularly for subtle grape varieties like Pinot Noir. Hold the wine in your mouth for a while (without choking) because as it warms in the mouth the wine opens up and releases volatile flavour and aroma compounds. 

Of course, now you are actually tasting the wine, and we want to try and describe the various tastes that we find. First we decide, “Is the wine sweet or dry”? Which means do you taste residual sugar or not. 

Next, taste for the acid in the wine. You feel, more than taste, the acid in wine on your tongue, and it can make your mouth water. Don’t confuse acid or the idea of “dry” with the pucker sensation in some red wines, which are caused by tannins. Is the wine acidic, bitter or astringent. 

Tannins are an important part of the flavour profile for red wines. You cannot taste tannins, but you can feel them. Swirling red wine in your mouth is an excellent way to “feel” the tannin in your mouth. Is the wine textured and feel smooth in the mouth or does it feel watery?

If you are having trouble putting your tastes into words, you might refer to the aroma chart again. Frequently, the aromas are flavours as well.

The key to taste is balance and the best wines are very balanced without any one characteristic dominating i.e. there is harmony.

Now swallow the wine and what is your final impression. Is this finish long, complex, interesting? Does it please the senses? Is the wine an easy drinker or are the flavours, aromas, texture difficult?

5) Wine Tasting S Number 5: Savour

The last act of “tasting” a wine is savouring it. Contemplate the aromas, tastes, and the way the wine feels in your mouth. You are looking for the overall experience the wine has to offer.

Did you like the wine? What did you like about it? What did you not like about the wine? Would you buy the wine again? These are the kind of questions that you should try to answer to get your overall impression of the wine. With experience comes aroma and flavour memory that act as a guide for future drinking enjoyment. 

A well used word in wine circles is "length". This is a combination of two factors. Firstly how long the wine has an impact on your senses after you swallow it, how long it affects your palate. Secondly how the wine flows across your senses.

 The other well used word is "complexity". This is a description of whether the wine is multi-dimensional and it is often used with high quality wines, particularly those who are aged. It can come from the grape variety or blend of grapes as well as wine making techniques like oak aging, solids contact and so on. As a wine ages its taste and smell move from primary fruits to secondary characteristics which are caused by the evolution of chemicals in the wine, precipitation of tannins and other processes. 

Wine tasting trip to Austria

After being told that Austria had great wine quality for a low price, I thought it was time to fly to Vienna and visit some of the country's wineries. So in October 2015 a weekend was spent in Tattendorf in the Thermenregion, South of Vienna and Rust in the Burgenland area, close to the border with Hungary.

About Thermenregion

Based on Austria’s Wine Laws, the Thermenregion was created in 1985 through the merging of wine regions Gumpoldskirchen and Bad Vöslau. Thermenregion’s vineyards are situated south of Vienna, on the edge of the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) and close to the town of Baden. The total acre planted to vines is just over 2000 hectares with hills like the Anninger close by, impacting the terroir of the region. 

Views to Anninger

The soil in the area is relatively diverse though heavy ones are most prevalent. Weathered pebbles and stones and deep reaching-layers of alluvial soil help in warming and draining the land and in the Steinfeld, stony, rubble soils offer excellent conditions for red wines. The Thermenregion aquired this name, in part, from geothermal hot springs that flow under the vineyards, contributing to favourable wine growing conditions for difficult grape varieties like Pinot Noir and St Laurent by changing the soil temperature and creating distinctive micro-climates. 

Wine producers in the Thermenregion grow white grape varieties which are rarely grown in other parts of the words including Zierfandler (known also as Spätrot) and Rotgipfler. The major white wine producing areas are  Perchtoldsdorf, Gumpoldskirchen, Pfaffstätten, Baden, Guntramsdorf and Traiskirchen.

Other grape varieties planted include  Pinot Noir, St. Laurent, Blauer Portugieser, Neuburger, Zweigelt, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Red wines are produced around Bad Vöslau, Sooß, Tattendorf and Teesdorf.

About Burgenland

Burgenland is a large wine producing region on the eastern border of Austria close to Hungary which occupies a narrow strip of land that runs from the Danube River down to Steiermark in the south of the country.  Sopron on the Hungarian side of the border is an extension of the Austrian region with a similar style of wines.

The area has a continental climate with long, sunny summers and is Austria's key red wine region, with its wines based mainly on Blaufrankisch and Zweigel. Dessert wines which are sweet and botrytized are also a speciality of the region especially around the Neusiedlersee lake in the City of Rust (western part) or Illmitz (eastern part). The lake keeps heat from the Pannonian Plain, a large, warm area which covers much of Hungary and eastern Austria, lengthening the ripening season into autumn. Humidity from the lake promotes the spread of noble rot (botrytis cinerea) in the regions of Seewinkel and Rust. The Ausbruch, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines that are made under the Neusiedlersee and Neusiedlersee-Hugelland DACs are particularly notable wines. Top red wine producers are based on the Eastern shore of Neusiedlersee using predominantly Zweigelt based varieties.

The region's continental warmth also extends into the west and south, where the foothills of the Alps have more influence on the grapes. Very good red wines are produced in the Eisenberg DAC in Südburgenland , which allows both Blaufranksich and Zweigelt, and in the Leithaberg DAC, where Blaufrankisch is dominant. Leithaberg DAC also has a white variant, which includes Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Neuberger and Gruner Veltliner, either individually or as a blend. 

If you're a fan of red wines Neusidlersee DAC, and Südburgenland (Leithaberg and Eisenberg) are good areas areas to visit with many good producers. . 


But, Mittelburgenland, south of Neusiedlersee lake, is another notable part of Burgenland's red wine regions. The spicy red wines made here from Blaufrankisch have garnered the region its own DAC title, and the variety accounts for more than half of all vineyard land in Mittelburgenland.

Mittelburgenland's wines have the reputation of being the  number one region from the price-quality ratio – this is where it is possible to find top red wines at affordable prices. Another name for Mittelburgenland is Blaufränkischland, which reflects the Blaufränkisch grape focus of this region. 

Overnight in Stollhof

After being met at Vienna airport by my host for the weekend, Mikhail, we did the 70km or so trip to Stollhof, a very pleasant village, to the south west of Vienna. So Stollhof was the base for the weekend of wine tasting with a stay in Frau Berger's quest house and evenings at the pub at the Greenwell centre ( - Greenwell's Centre for Business fitness is highly recommended if you're looking for a venue for a business or training event with super meetings rooms, bedrooms, restaurant and a well stocked traditional pub with the best Austrian wines and beers courtesy of Mikhail's good taste!

Berger Gueshouse Stollhof

A few treats at the Greenwell Pub Stollhof

Visit to Familie Johanneshof Reinisch, Thermenregion

The Reinisch winery is based near the town of Tattendorf around 30 minutes drive south of Vienna ( Im Weingarten 1, 2523 Tattendorf).  The winery is open 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday and the restaurant (which is excellent) is open Thursday to Sunday. The Reinisch family farms organically and is fully certified as of the 2013 vintage (though organic practices started in 2004). See more at

Tattendorf is known as an “island of red wine” in the Austrian wine region Thermenregion with 80% of the production. The reason for this is the continental climate and the type of soil in this sub-region.The soil is dominated by gravel and chalk. The stones are warmth-preserving resulting in a higher average soil temperature, which assists ripening. Day heat is absorbed to a depth with only a moderate rise in soil temperature, followed by marked and prolonged re-radiation of warmth at night. The soil is also well-drained which can lead to problems in years with little rainfall but helps ensure that both internal and surface drainage are good meaning that roots can grow deep with a steady supply of moisture and nutrients.

The business started in 1923 with just 0.5 ha on the Ried Mitterfeld. Now there are around 40 hectares of vineyards, mostly around Tattendorf, but also on Anninger in Gumpoldskirchen between 225-450 metres in elevation. In 1995, the new winery Johanneshof Reinisch was built in Weingarten. 

The Reinisch family is now producing wine in the fourth generation with three brothers: Hannes, Christian and Michael currently running the winery. The vineyards Grillenhügel, Frauenfeld, Holzspur and Satzing are planted to 65 % red and 35 % white grapes.  Best known for their excellent Pinot Noir and St. Laurent, there is a particular focus at Johanneshof Reinisch on the Burgundy varieties.

Their Pinot Noir vines grow in vineyards from both the stony, alluvial gravel soils of Tattnedorf near the winery and the elevated, nutrient rich soils of Gumpoldskirchen. Also In their Gumpoldskirchen vineyards the indigenous grape varieties Rotgipfler and Zierfandler are grown. There are roughly 100 hectares (247 acres) remaining in the world of these two indigenous white varieties 

Wine production and cellar

Red wine fermentation tanks

Johanneshof Reinisch cellar - spot the cat!

Wines produced and wine tasting

I was fortunate to be able to try quite a few of the following wines and the breadth of wines produced at Johanneshof Reinisch is incredible.

  • Alter Rebstock (a red wine cuvée), Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot Reserve, Chardonnay Reserve Lores, Dialog (a white wine cuvée), Eiswein Merlot, Gumpoldskirchner Tradition (cuvée), Merlot Dornfeld, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Grillenhügel, Pinot Noir Holzspur, Premiere (a red young wine cuvée), Riesling , Rotgipfler, Rotgipfler Satzing, Rotgipfler Auslese, Sauvignon Blanc, St. Laurent, St. Laurent Frauenfeld, St. Laurent Holzspur, Sparkling Pinot Noir Brut, Steingarten (a red wine cuvée), Zierfandler Spiegel, Zweigelt, Zweigelt Frauenfeld

The Johanneshof Reinisch Fraienfeld St. Laurent and varieties of Pinot Noir (Pinot Noir Grillenhügel, Pinot Noir Holzspur) were the stand out wines from the winery. Smooth, fragrant and nicely balanced.

Thank you to Michael for the winery visit and tasting. A great introduction to Austrian wines.

More about the St. Laurent Grape

Prior to my visit to Austria I had never heard of the St. Laurent grape and what a great grape it is, especially if you're a fan of the Pinot Noir style.

St. Laurent (sometimes written in French as Saint Laurent or in German as Sankt Laurent and in Austria Sanktlorenztraube ) and it is only planted globally to around 2,000 ha. It is mainly grown in Austria (approximately 800 ha) and countries around Austria like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Germany. St. Laurent is now the most commonly planted red/black grape in the Czech Republic. 

St. Laurent originally came from Alsace in France but it it was recorded in use by the Austrians before 1900.  

The St. Laurent grape is very similar to Pinot Noir, with thin skins and early ripening suggesting a genetic link. It is named St. Laurent because it ripens and changes colour around the same time of the year as St. Lawrence Day – August 10th. 

Until quite recently it was unclear whether St. Laurent is related to Pinot Noir or not. The school of winemaking in Klosterneuburg was only recently able to confirm this relationship beyond doubt by gene research.

However Oz Carke's latest book (Grapes & Wines: A comprehensive guide to varieties and flavours by Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand) seems to contest this point on genetic similarity to Pinot Noir:

"The thing that excites everyone about Sankt Laurent is that it can produce velvety, richly fruity reds with a strong similarity to fully ripe Pinot Noir. The trouble, then, is that everyone tries to prove Sankt Laurent is some sort of earlier-flowering, earlier-ripening Pinot Noir. Leading Austrian producer Axel Stiegelmar even said it was a seedling of Pinot Noir –in other words both its parents were Pinot Noir, but, as happens with vine seedlings, it did not reproduce true to type.

Well, genetically it seems to be a long way off Pinot Noir, but no one has yet come up with much more detail than that it probably originates in Austria –which, since most of the best Sankt Laurent I’ve tasted has been Austrian, sort of takes us back to where we started. But it is certainly like Pinot Noir –though perhaps even more like good Gamay –in its soft-centred, juicy cherry fruit. The wine is best drunk young, and may not age well –but so what? It’s a complete delight when it’s young. It is particularly popular in Thermenregion of Austria and in southern Burgenland. With Blaufränkisch it is a parent of Zweigelt, Austria’s most popular red grape.

Germany has quite a bit and it is one of the few red varieties to find any success in the cool climate of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. I suspect it would do well planted also in areas like southern England and Canada. Best producers: (Austria) Paul Achs, Gernot Heinrich, Juris (G Stiegelmar), Willi Opitz, Hans Pittnauer, Joseph Umathum." 

NOTE: I would say however that Austria's best producers are Paul Achs, Gernot Heinrich, Weingut Juris (G Stiegelmar), Willi Opitz, Hans Pittnauer, Joseph Umathum, Weingut Sattler, Johanneshof Reinisch, Weingut Gisperg.

History of Saint Lawrence

Lawrence of Rome and later St. Lawrence was born in Spain in the third Century and moved to Rome after his education and eventually became archdeacon of Rome in charge of the church treasury under Pope Sixtus II In the year 258 Emperor Valerian decreed that all Christians including Lawrence be put to death in part to get hold of the early Christian church's money. Before he was put to death he managed to distribute the wealth of the church to the poor people of Rome.

The St. Laurent vine

  • Leaf: medium-sized; five-lobed, wavy
  • Grape cluster: medium sized, compact berries, oval grapes with a blue black colour, thin skinned
  • Ripening time: mid-early season
  • Growing conditions: Generally low yielding with good sites needed with deep soil. The variety is considered difficult in the vineyard and it is prone to frost damage especially during flowering

Comparing St. Laurent with Pinot Noir

St. Laurent wines are darker in the glass than Pinot Noir with intense red and violet. There are aromas of morello cherry, blackcurrant and dark plum with earthy forest notes compared with the raspberry, strawberry notes of a Pinot. So more dark fruit rather than red fruit. The wines are generally highly aromatic with an elegant style when the wines are at their highest quality.

If it’s harvested early St. Laurent the wine will generally have light tannins. A later harvest later or during a warmer summer will increase tannin levels.

Tasting it as a new wine, it can be acid and very dry. Having had time to age, it is velvety and full-bodied with soft tannins. This wine is especially suitable for oak-barrel-ageing.

The best St. Laurent wines are generally medium bodied with powerful aromas, smooth, velvety textures with a nice balance of black fruit, acidity, tannin with a long finish. When barrel aged the characteristics should be in harmony with the grape. A great wine to try in you're visiting Austria and like Burgundy style reds!

Visit to the Schneider winery

So into central Tattendorf and a visit to the Schneider winery (Badnerstrasse 3, A-2523 Tattendorf) run by Georg Schneider, open 9am - 6pm Monday to Saturday. The wines are fully certified organic. There is also a superb traditional Austrian restaurant, Restaurant Rebhof Schneider, run by the family next door which in October was serving lovely game dishes which were in season at the time (venison, boar, pheasant etc.). The restaurant has been running for almost 200 years – in the beginning known as “Gasthaus Zur Krone”, continuing as “Gasthaus Schneider”, until today’s “Restaurant Rebhof”.See more at

Schneider produces Klassik and Reserve (aged) wines from grapes grown in the Thermenregion and Niederösterreich with Chardonnay, Pinot blanc (Weißburgunder), Müller-Thurgau, Gruner Veltliner, Rotgipfler, St. Laurent, Pinot noir (Blauburgunder), Blauer Zweigelt, Blauer Portugieser and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Schneider Winery has put its focus on the red grape varieties of the burgundy family Pinot Noir and Saint Laurent. 

After graduating from the Höhere Bundeslehranstalt für Wein- und Obstbau in Klosterneuburg and after training on wine estates in Germany and Australia, Georg Schneider has taken over responsibility for winemaking. The Schneider's own around 14ha of vineyards and Georg says that "Holding together among the family is the base condition for success in our winery. Running our winery doesn’t mean working from nine to five to us. It means our life.".

Georg Schneider in the vineyard

Georg is producing some excellent Burgundy style Pinot Noir and St. Laurent and a visit to the winery and restaurant should be on your schedule if you're passing near Tattendorf.  Expectations for the  2015 vintage are high after excellent growing and harvesting conditions as well as good yields so expect a finessed range of wines with plenty of complex fruit notes when the wines begin to be released from March 2016.

Off to Rust, Burgenland

After Tattendorf we headed off to Rust in Burgenland, near the Neusiedler See (Lake Neusiedl ), a lake which enables the area to produce some excellent sweet wines with Botryris, the noble rot, RusterAusbruch. 

With only about 1,900 inhabitants Rust is Austria's smallest statutory city, as it was endowed with the rights of a royal free city by the Hungarian crown in 1681. As well as RusterAusbruch, the city is known for Beerenauslese (late harvest) and ice wines. 

First a visit to the Weingut Feiler-Artinger at Hauptstraße 3, 7071 Rust. See more at

weingut feiler-artinger rust burgenland

The winery is now run by Hans and his wife Inge Feiler, and their son Kurt Feiler and his wife Katrin with around 30 hectares of vineyards in Rust.

But it has a long history starting in the 1930's and as early as 1947 the family began to fill a part of the harvest in bottles and to market the wine themselves. In 1953 Gustav Feiler sought to produce a  "Ruster Ausbruch" and in 1963 accepts his son Hans took over winemaking from his father Gustav. In 1994 Han's son Kurt took over the day to day running of Feiler-Artinger.

About 65% of vineyards are planted with red grape varieties. The most important variety is the Gamay, followed by Zweigelt, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and Shiraz. The 35% of the area that are planted with white grapes is spread over a total of 8 varieties. The three main ones are Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Riesling but also Traminer, Neuburger, Muscat, Muscat Ottonel and Pinot Gris are grown.

The family say that "Our wines are works of art; they are a symbiosis of climate, soil and the personality of the people who stand behind it!"

Wine tasting

The winery's two signature wines are Solitaire, a red blend and the Ruster Ausbruch Essenz Chardonnay, a late harvest.It was a pleasure to drink these and many of their excellent dessert wines.

Solitaire is a blend predominantly of Blaufränkisch with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, made only from the best locations and the best grapes. For example the 2012 is Blaufränkisch (87%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Merlot (3%).  The wine is fermented in both stainless steel and wooden tanks. The malolactic fermentation takes place in large oak barrels and then the wines are moved into barriques to mature for about 15 months. 

Ruster Ausbruch Essenz is obtained from particularly shrunken grapes and berries and picked late harvest. The juice of this berry is so sweet that the yeasts can ferment only slowly and with difficulty. The alcohol which is formed during the fermentation remains below 10% volume and the residual sugar is well above 250 grams. 

Visit to the Giefing winery

A-7071 Rust am Neusiedler See, Hauptstrasse 13. See more at

Erich Giefing used to be an award-winning gourmet chef running the"Backstube" restaurant in Rust but during the mid-nineties he and his wife Claudia decided to give up cooking, lease the restaurant and devote themselves to viticulture. He made his new home in a 500-year-old farmhouse in the center of Rust, laying the cornerstone for the Giefing Winery.

The farmhouse dates back to the 15th century and is the only building of its kind still used by vintners today and the winery has 14 hectares of vineyards. Chardonnay, Welschriesling, Grüner Veltliner, Neuburger, Furmint,Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are grown.The wines are vinified in stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels.

I found that the Giefing wines were not for me with heavy tannins despite age and a generally unapproachable style. Despite having the chance to try many wines, there were few I enjoyed. The tasting room was surprisingly busy despite my disappointment with the wines. I can imagine that 20 years in the cellar might temper this tannin heavy wines.

After a very enjoyable day of tasting in Tattendorf and Rust with some lovely sunshine accompanied by the autumn vineyard colours, it was the end of day one of Austrian Wine tasting.

On to day two. First a walk near Tattendorf on the St. Laurent Weinwanderweg which gives you an opportunity to wander the vineyards and there's even an observation tower. Shame about the fog and cold in the morning, but it was good to clear the head.

Visit to the Familie Auer winery

A chance to return to Tattendorf with a visit to the Weingut Familie Auer (Pottendorfer Str. 14, 2523 Tattendorf) which as well as a winery also has a very good wine tavern. See more at

The winery and cellar


The Auer winery is owned by Leopold Auer and are members of the vintner association "Die Burgundermacher". Leopold is particularly passionate about Pinot Noir and St. Laurent. 

The stand out wines in terms of tasting were the Reserve's of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Pinot Noir and St. Laurent but the Klassik wines were exceptional value given the quality and low price. The Reserve's are barrique aged for up to 2 years. A Klassik Pinot Noir went down particularly well with the lunch and is sold at less than 10 euros a bottle, imagine the quality you would get in Burgundy for that!?

After a hearty lunch at the tavern it was time to head back to Vienna Airport and reminisce about the lovely wines and celebrate that I'd discovered St. Laurent wines given my love of the Burgundy style wines. Thanks to Misha for organising the trip and for being such a great host!

Wine tasting vocabulary and jargon - how to speak like a wine snob or Sommelier

Here are all the basic terms and jargon you need to describe wine and to sound like a pro when you're faced with that wine snob or self obsessed French Sommelier:

  • Aroma - Describes a simple smell of a wine with very strong smells being described as aromatic
  • Balance - Acidity, alcohol, tannin and sweetness, tannins, alcohol are balanced and harmonious. As a good wine ages the balance often improves as the tannins soften and being more mellow.
  • Body - The amount of alcohol in a wine chiefly determines its body as well as its extract. The more body a wine has the less like water it tastes.
  • Bouquet - Multi layered flavours and smells which develop further as a wine ages and certain grape styles are more aromatic than others e.g. Gewürztraminer grape
  • Chewy - Describes the presence of tannin
  • Closed - Lacking in aroma
  • Concentrated - Good intensity of flavours
  • Corked - Tainted, mouldy smelling wine caused by fungal contamination (TCA)
  • Crisp - Used to describe a white wine with good acidity and hence freshness
  • Finish - The impact of the wine on the mouth after swallowing or spitting it which can then be described as short or long. For example a Bordeaux or Barossa Shiraz would normally have a long finish.
  • Firm - Having perceptible tannins
  • Flabby - Insufficient acidity
  • Forward - Aging has occurred more rapidly than expected giving the wine a mature flavour
  • Fresh - Associated with crispness and acidity
  • Fruity - Either used to describe a wine which is slightly sweet or to describe that it has plenty of fruit notes e.g. cherry, blackcurrant, plum etc.
  • Full bodied - A robust wine with plenty of alcohol
  • Green - Insufficient ripening (a problem in cool climates) causes too much acidity
  • Hollow - Not enough fruit notes
  • Hot -  A lot of alcohol which actually causes a burning sensation in the mouth. A problem with new world wines where grapes grow in high climates leading to excess alcohol
  • Jammy - This refers to excessively ripe and heavy red grape flavours causing over sweetness and a jam like profile
  • Lean - Too little fruit notes
  • Legs - Also known as Tears, they are the streams left on the inside of a wine glass after a wine with reasonable alcohol levels (+12%) has been swirled. 
  • Length - How long the finish goes on for. Persistence of the tasting experience on the mouth after swallowing or spitting. A wine with good length is described as having a long finish.
  • Mature - A long lived wine, kept to its full potential
  • Mouth feel - The physical impact of a wine on the mouth, its texture, tannins, acidity, sweetness. The overall balance of a wine directly influences mouth feel.
  • Nose - The aroma/smell of a wine
  • Powerful - High levels of alcohol and/or fruit
  • Round - Good body with no excessive tannins
  • Tannic - Too much or so called aggressive tannins can be unpleasant and have a pronounced drying effect on the mouth. Ripeness and management of tannins is just as important as actual total tannin level. All young red wines which are produced for cellaring initially have high tannin levels which soften as the wine ages
  • Tart - Too much acid
  • TCA - The mouldly smelling chemical trichloroanisole commonly associated with corked wine or cork taint

Describing wine colour by grape variety and the Nose of a Wine


How to describe wine colour - Colours of wine (assuming limited ageing)

From Green to Black across the grape spectrum:

  • Greyish Yellow - Pinot Grigio
  • Greenish Yellow - Sauvignon Blanc 
  • Pale Yellow - Colombard
  • Greeny Yellow - Riesling and Gewürztraminer 
  • Light gold Yellow- Chenin Blanc
  • Golden Yellow - Viognier, Chardonnay, Sémillon
  • Gold - Sweet Dessert wines
  • Browny Yellow - Mature white Burgundy
  • Amber -Tokaji Sweet wines
  • Brown - Marsala
  • Salmon -rosé wines
  • Raspberry - Grenache, white Zinfandel
  • Copper - Aged Grenache
  • Brick red - Aged Pinot Noir and Bordeaux Blends
  • Ruby - Young Pinot Noir, Tempranillo
  • Garnet - Nebbiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
  • Cherry - Sangiovese, Zinfandel
  • Purple - Barbera, Amarone
  • Purple Black - Syrah, Aged Port

Primary aromas by grape

  • Sauvignon Blanc – grapefruit, lemon, honeydew
  • Chardonnay – green or yellow apples, pineapple, lemon
  • Riesling – peach, apricot, mango
  • Pinot Noir – black cherry, raspberry, orange
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – blueberry, cassis, blackberry
  • Syrah – blackberry, red plum, blackcurrant

Secondary grape aromas (developed by maturing)

  • Sauvignon Blanc – smoke, vanilla, yogurt
  • Chardonnay – toasted hazelnuts, vanilla, butter
  • Riesling – clove, nutmeg, lees
  • Pinot Noir – vanilla, smoke, coca-cola
  • Cabernet – Coffee, oak, caramel
  • Syrah – Cedar, grilled meat, smoke

Tertiary aromas (extended ageing)

  • Sauvignon Blanc – herbal, stone, lemongrass
  • Chardonnay – chalk, white flowers, earth
  • Riesling – crushed slate, orange blossom, onion
  • Pinot Noir – spice box, mushroom, wet dirt
  • Cabernet – tobacco, truffle, violets
  • Syrah – forest floor, lavender, black pepper

Wine tasting and buying trip to Burgundy June 2015

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I am fortunate that I live a few hours drive from the magnificent wine region of Burgundy. What follows is the details of a day trip to Burgundy to taste and buy wine and also to eat the excellent local food. Because I visited on a Saturday many of the producers cellars were closed and therefore I was reliant on retailers and négociant houses which have traditionally sold wine on behalf of wine makers in the region. I left Burgundy with a fine selection of both red and white wines ready to be enjoyed both immediately and in years to come. If you love your wine a visit to the Côte d’Or must be on your bucket list!

Arrival in Nuits-St-Georges


Arriving in Nuits-St Georges

After a speedy coffee and croissant to recharge after the trip I was keen to track the Le Cavon de Baccus wine shop on Rue Crébilllon in Nuits-St-Georges. Unfortunately being Saturday morning it was closed and so onwards to Beaune. Next time, since the choice of wines stocks looks excellent.


Le Cavon de Baccus wine shop on Rue Crébilllon

South to the Côte de Beaune

After less than a 10 minute trip down the D974, I arrived at the well known négociant Louis Jadot on 62 Route de Savigny in Beaune. An excellent visitor centre with parking is available offering tours, tastings and the opportunity to buy a good selection of wines.

Louis Henry Denis Jadot founded Maison Louis Jadot in 1859. But even before then, the story of Maison Jadot had its roots in the vineyards, with the Jadot family's purchase of the Clos des Ursules, a Beaune Premier Cru, in 1826. The négociant house, under the guidance of Louis Henry Denis Jadot, expanded rapidly, with a focus on the markets of northern Europe. His son, Louis Jean Baptiste, took over the management of the company in 1900, and expanded operations by buying numerous vineyards, including Corton Charlemagne and Chevalier Montrachet Les Demoiselles. In 1985, Madame Jadot decided to sell the company to the family of Rudy Kopf, Jadot's US importer.

All the wines made under the Maison Louis Jadot label are Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée wines from across the region. Maison Louis Jadot controls today 210 hectares scattered across Burgundy, from the Côte d'Or to the Mâconnais and down into Beaujolais.


Louis Jadot on 62 Route de Savigny in Beaune

At 3PM on Mondays to Fridays, and 10.00AM on Saturday, a visit to the winemaking and maturation cellars is available followed by a tasting by prior reservation only. The tasting and sale room are open to all from 15.00 to 19.00 on weekdays, and 11.00 to 17.30 on Saturdays.

Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to visit the winery facilities but the sale room proved to be packed with good fines, some from older vintages. The shop manager spoke good English for those who require it and the manager was very enthuiastic about the wines as well as helpful.


Wine shop Louis Jadot

There was an opportunity to buy some of the excellent recent Burgundy vintages including 2009 & 2010.

Wines bought:

  • Corton Pougets 2004 €62.4
  • Monthelie 2010 €22.4
  • Beaune 1er Cru Cent Vignes 2010 €32
  • Beaune 1er Cru Clos Des Couchereaux 2004 €32
  • Savigny 1er Cru Clos Des Guettes 2009 €28
  • Volnay 1er Cru Cos Des Chenes 2007 €44.80
  • One bottle given free of Chateau Des Jacques Moulin a vent 1998.

After Louis Jadot, a few minutes drive got me to Bouchard Père et Fils , a wine grower, négociant and producer based in Beaune on 15 Rue du Château. Again English is spoken here if you need it and another friendly reception here.


The firm was established as a cloth merchant by Michel Bouchard in 1731, and in 1746 his son Joseph subsequently began selling wines and acquiring vineyards. In 1775, Joseph Bouchard acquired his first vineyards in Volnay in the famous “Les Caillerets” climat and started to develop the family’s vineyard holdings.

During the French Revolution, property belonging to the clergy and nobility was confiscated and put up for sale.  Joseph’s son, Antoine Philibert Joseph Bouchard, seized the opportunity to extend the family’s vineyard holdings in Beaune including the famous “Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus.”

Currently the firm owns 130 hectares (320 acres) of vineyards across Burgundy, of which 12 hectares (30 acres) are of Grand Cru classification and 74ha rated as Premier Cru. In 1995 the Bouchard family sold the firm to Joseph Henriot.

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Bouchard Père et Fils, 15 Rue du Chateau

Wines bought:

  • Gevrey Chambertin Cazetier 2008 €75
  • Vosne Romanee Beau Monts 2008 €75
  • Beaune De Chateau Blanc 2010, 2011, 2012 €24.5

Lunch in Beaune and visit to the wine shops

After all that tasting in the morning it was time to find somewhere for a decent lunch and after parking just down the road from Bouchard Père et Fils, I wandered into Beaune and tapped into Tripadvisor to find somewhere half decent. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised to find an excellent restaurant called La Ciboulette on 69 Rue de Lorraine (398 reviews on TA with 4.5 out of 5 rating)


The Fois Gras and Charolais Beef as well as the cheese selection were all superb, washed down with a nice Beaune Pinot. I'm sure the Dessert was great too, but by then the stomach was rather too full! The owner and waiting staff were also a pleasure and the place was full of French. If you want quality Burgundian fare you can't go too far wrong with the food and the service at a reasonable price on several set menus (from 19 euros to 38 - the 38 was the one I sampled). Plus its only a few minutes walk to the centre of Beaune for yet more wine tasting.


La Ciboulette on 69 Rue de Lorraine

Into Beaune Centre-Ville

A chance now to visit a few of the wine shops selling their wares off the main square in Beaune. Not the keenest prices but a good choice and I picked up a few bottles to take advantage.

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I bought a nice selection of premium Pinot Noir's (with completely different styles Chambolle vs Gevrey vs Nuits-St. Georges) at Vins Perret and Vinoboam just off the main square in Beaune:

Domaine Des Monts Luisants Morey St. Denis Premier Cru 2009

Jospeh Drouhin Chambolle- Musigny Premier Cru 2011

Maison Louis Latour Gevrey-Chambertin 2010

Maison Roche de Bellene Nuits Saint Georges Les Vaucrains Premier Cru 2010

Off to Chassagne Montrachet


Having stock up on the Burgundy reds it was time to head to Chassagne Montrachet down the D973 (with a cut across to the D974 through the vineyards) which was again about 10 minutes from the centre of Beaune. The drive took me South West past Pommard, Volnay and Monthelie and then South through Meursault and then finally through Puligny-Montrachet so seeing the transition from the famous Pinot Noir reds of the Côte d'Or to the prized Chardonnay based whites.


Views over Pommard

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Views over Volnay


Driving into Puligny Montrachet

I visited the Le Caveau de Chassagne on 7 Rue Charles Paquelin in Chassagne-Montrachet which has an excellent selection of reds and whites but especially the latter at pretty good prices. Tasting and a restaurant were available but due to lack of time I was unable to try but the service was excellent and English was again spoken by the staff if needed. The shop is open 7 days a week apart from between 12.30 and 2pm.

Rather than buying the super premium whites from Puligny-Montrachet I opted for some better value options from the nearby Chassagne-Montrachet and Saint Aubin which I'm sure won't disappoint after a few years cellaring.

Marc Colins  Et Fils, Saint Aubin La Chateniere 2013

Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2013


Le Caveau de Chassagne, Chassagne-Montrachet

Leaving Burgundy

So that was it for a whistle stop trip to Burgundy and what a gorgeous day it was too with plenty of sunshine, great wine and food and some lovely people to enhance the experience.  I hope you find the itinerary a useful starting point for your trip and obviously with more time you can visit individual producers, go further afield (e.g. Gevrey-Chambertin, Chablis, Beaujolais) and do more tastings. The you can easily spend a week in Burgundy taking in the cuisine (including the Dijon Mustard) and wines. Definitely a favourite place for me, the history relating to the grape is palpable. À bientôt, j'espère!

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Back towards the A31

How to score wine on a wine tasting

See the chart below:

  • Rate the wine on Appearance (colour, clarity), Aroma (Nose, Complexity, Intensity) and Taste (Balance, Complexity, Finish) on a scale of 1-5 (where 5 is the highest rating)
  • Multiply each score you have given by the corresponding "Importance Multiplier" and then add the 9 scores up to give a total rating for the wine

Best places to go for a wine tasting holiday

In no particular order but all have great scenery, great food and of course great wine!

1. Napa Valley & Sonoma Coast/Valley, California, USA


2. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley, France


3. Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley, Margaret River, Australia


4. Central Otago, Malborough, Martinborough, New Zealand


5. Western Cape, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, South Africa


6. Mendoza, Argentina


7. Tuscany, Italy


8. Portland, Oregon, USA


9. Patagonia, Chile


Going on a wine tour? Do's and Don'ts

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The biggest suggestion is make sure you get driven around!

1. If you're not going on an organised wine tour of a particular area, plan the winery visits carefully and figure out the best way of getting there.

2. When you arrive get a feel for the winery, don't just charge into the tasting room or wine shop, there's more to a winery then a cellar door.

3. Don't wear too much perfume or can you smell a wine when your nose is bombarded by your own body.

4. Think about how you'll get any wine you buy home - do the vineyard do delivery domestically or internationally?

5. No mints, brushing teeth or Listerine just before the tasting - the best way to ruin a good wine

6. Avoid strong flavoured food at Breakfast or lunch e.g. Mackerel Fillets

7. Visit a total of four wineries maximum in a day especially if you're not spitting, any more and the wine starts tasting the same.

8. Discuss the wine with the winery staff - what are their favourites and why

9. Take notes as you'll quickly forget what you liked, what you didn't

How to taste wine videos