‘Tis the season for friends and family to visit, and that can mean a host (you) is put upon to find ways to keep the crowd entertained when they’re not eating or watching sports.
Since this is Wine Country, one of the best ways can be visiting tasting rooms. But for something with a little more splash, Judd's Hill in Napa Valley offers a delightful “blend your own” program that will keep everyone happily occupied for hours.
Winemaker Judd Finkelstein thinks outside the wine barrel. He loves Hawaiian music, and is sometimes taken to strolling his 14-acre estate, strumming his ukulele while singing classic Hawaiian songs. The son of the winery founders Art and Bunnie Finkelstein, he leads a local band called the Maikai Gents Featuring the Mysterious Miss Mauna Loa, and decorates parts of the winery with tiki torches and faux palm trees.
Ah, but the blending. For even the most basic tasting, you need to make an appointment, because these are personally guided by friendly hosts. For the Bottle Blending Day Camp, advance reservations are a must, and groups are encouraged, from three to ten people. Guests are guided through a daylong tasting, education and blending session to create their own personal Bordeaux-style wine from four barrel samples, then the results are hand-bottled and custom labeled for take-home enjoyment.
Cost is $225 for three finished bottles, $395 for six bottles, and $695 for 12 bottles. But the result is uniquely yours, since with about 3,000 cases produced annually, Judd's is best known for its estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, not blends. There is Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, too, so your finished flavors are up to you.
Even non wine drinkers can enjoy the show, touring the farm-casual grounds, meeting the chickens that live in an architect-caliber coop, and maybe learning some Don Ho lyrics along the way.
Details: Judd's Hill Winery, 2332 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707-255-2332, juddshill.com.
Tip: Celebrate even more with a family friendly ride – cart the whole crew to the winery and back with a private limo, Town Car or mini shuttle bus from Pure Luxury Transportation.