Visitors interested in intimate, comprehensive tours and knockout tastings should schedule a tour at this winery. A quick turn off the Silverado Trail in Spring Valley (there's no sign -- watch for Taplin Rd., or you'll blast right by), Joseph Phelps was founded in 1973 and is a major player in both the regional and the worldwide wine market. Phelps himself accomplished a long list of valley firsts, including launching the Syrah varietal in the valley and extending the 1970s Berkeley food revolution (led by Alice Waters) to the Wine Country by founding the Oakville Grocery Co. A visit can include an informal $20 tasting or a "seminar" (1 1/2 hr. on weekdays and 1 hr. on weekends; all $30) like the Blending, Le Nez, or the Wine Appreciation seminars, which include samples of five or six wines and a short film on the history of the winery.
The three excellently located picnic tables, on the terrace overlooking the valley, are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with preference given to Phelps wine club members (join and get wine shipped a certain number of times per year, depending on level of membership), who are also able to make a reservation.
- © Frommer's 2013
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