To learn more about the Napa Valley, I point you to two books by James Conaway, Napa and The Far Side of Eden. Another excellent choice is A Tale of Two Valleys: Wine, Wealth and the Battle for the Good Life in Napa and Sonoma by Alan Deutschman. If you’re in the mood for a movie, I think you’ll enjoy Bottle Shock, which provides incredible cinematography, a great sound track, and an understanding of how Napa Valley became a celebrated area for wine.
But Napa isn’t the only place where grapes are grown and fine wines are made. Many states have wine regions, and in California, you’ll find wineries from north to south. Vintners are a friendly group and you can learn a lot by taking vineyard tours and participating in fun (and often free!) tastings on location. It can be a daunting “task” to spend a few days doing tastings and we’ve been advised to take a day off between those you spend winery-hopping. In California’s wine country you can do other kinds of tastings as well—olive oil, cheeses, and chocolate to name a few.
Of course, you don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy an evening at home with a bottle of wine. Your local liquor store or gourmet grocer will have recommendations for every taste and price range. There are also instructional books on how to learn about and appreciate wines. And don’t forget to hit the internet and watch videos from experts like Gary Vaynerchuk.
And here’s what I say (well, so do a lot of others, too): throw out the “rules”! Don’t worry about whether or not it’s okay to drink a white wine with your steak dinner. It’s what you like and what tastes right to you. As to cost, we’ve participated in blind tastings and you’d be surprised how many times our group preferred the less expensive bottle over the pricier one. So…experiment and listen to recommendations, but ultimately follow your own palate.
Last, I want to acknowledge something about the fictional world of the Intoxicating series. Currently there are restrictions to the kinds of events that (some) Napa wineries may host (including weddings). For the purposes of these stories, the romantic “I-dos” go forward at beautiful Tanti Baci.