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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best Napa/Sonoma wineries for taking pictures

Everybody wants photos of their trip with maybe some interesting architecture or views.  Here are suggestions of camera-friendly wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties.  There are other numerous hillside wineries with great valley views that require appointments to visit. These listed here are all open to the public daily.

Artesa - Beautiful underground building with nice views over Carneros.
Bartholomew Park - Historic building in the middle of a 400 acre park.

Beringer -  Old and historic buildings and caves.

Castello di Amorosa - Get a pictures of yourself in a castle without spending thousands of dollars on travel to Europe.  Nice views over the valley.

Chateau St. Jean - Besides their beauitful grounds, the approach from the road with the vines, buildings and hills is great.
Chateau St. Jean
Chateau Montelena - Japanese-inspired grounds and a cool hillside entrance.

Clos Pegase - For art and architecture lovers.

Darioush - The Persian palace in Napa.

Domaine Carneros - A French chateau sitting on a hilltop.
Domaine Carneros
Ferrari Carano - Best "high maintenance" landscaping around (requires lots of water and work), but is incredibly well done.
Gloria Ferrer - Photogenic approach through the vineyards to the winery sitting on a bluff in front of the hills.

Korbel - Old and historic winery, train station and redwoods.

Kunde - The vineyards on the hill behind the winery are a great spot for picture-taking. 
Kunde in autumn
Opus One - Amazing architecture and nice views.

Paradise Ridge - On a hill looking towards the coastal hills.

Sbragia - Views of the Lake Sonoma dam and down Dry Creek Valley.  Grab a glass of wine and a seat on the large deck overlooking the valley.

Sterling - Sits on a hilltop overlooking northern Napa Valley.

Stryker - Beautiful building and views.  And wine.  The architecture and scenery here have an almost calming, kind of a pleasant, feeling that can feel really nice if you've just come from the madhouse of Napa Valley.

What's the best time of year to take photos of the vineyards?

Over the winter, about December through March the vines are bare, but the ground underneath can be vibrant green and may have flowers in early spring.  This can have a dramatic effect.  The grapes start showing up in mid-summer, but they really show well in Aug-Oct just before they're picked. The leaves turn color about November 1st, plus or minus.
March in Sonoma Valley
July at St. Francis Winery

October at Storybook Mtn. Vineyards