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Top Wine Caves to Beat the Summer Heat

From Napa to Santa Maria, here are the best spots to hide from the sun and sip the day away.

 Buena Vista Winery.

 

Though fall is knocking, some of the hottest days in wine country are still ahead of us. The best way to evade that end-of-summer sun? Hole up in a wine cave. This roster of wineries will please your palate—and your dermatologist. 

NAPA

In Rutherford, the Chandelier Cave at Hall Winery is lit by a fixture made of 1,500 Swarovski crystals, and currently claims a 100 percent success rate for marriage proposals. Only 14 people are allowed in every day, so book in advance. Top summer wine pick: Hall Mount Veeder Cabernet

 Courtesy of Hall Winery

VinRoc is a romantic hideaway perched on a mountainside high above Napa Valley. In addition to its bold, luscious wines, VinRoc is known for its sweeping views of the valley and the warmth of its owners. Top summer wine pick: 2012 VinRoc unoaked Chardonnay

If you’re looking for the most extravagant caves, try Jarvis, Antica, Clos Pegase, Palmaz, and Quintessa. For the best off-the-beaten-path experiences, check out Covert Estate, White Rock Vineyards, and Amizetta.
 

SONOMA

Buena Vista Winery was founded in 1857 and recently reborn under the ownership of global wine playboy Jean-Charles Boisset. Just outside the town of Sonoma, the original winery is a California historic landmark, and its caves were the first dug in California. Top summer wine pick: 2014 Buena Vista Winery Count’s Selection Pinot Gris

The 12,000-square-foot caves at Hamel Family Wines are primarily devoted to storing barrels, along with concrete egg fermenters that are used for the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc. But those in the know can also find the winery’s reserve room deep within the caves. Top summer wine pick: 2014 Hamel Family Wines Estate Rosé 

If you’re making a day or weekend out of caves in Sonoma, add Schug, Gundlach Bundschu, and Kunde to your list.

 

PASO ROBLES

The caves at Justin Vineyards & Winery in Paso Robles are attached to the winery production facilities, as well as the newly renovated Wine Society Lounge. The winery offers tours twice daily, which include a tutorial on the basics of winemaking and grape growing, and of course a tasting. Top summer wine pick: Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon

Halter Ranch Vineyard's caves are new and definitely state of the art. They form a double rainbow shape, with one side leading to a new tasting room patio (opening September 2015). The other is attached to the barrel room and winery. Top summer wine pick: 2014 Halter Ranch Grenache Blanc

Head to Eberly and Robert Hall for complimentary cave tours in Paso Robles.
 

BEYOND

Byington Vineyard & Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains offers barrel tastings in the cave and a library collection tasting in the newly built cave tasting room. The 356-foot-long cave was built in 1998 and stores approximately 300 cases of wine. Top summer wine pick: 2013 Saignee Rosé of Pinot Noir.

In Carmel Valley, Jarman Winery and Holman Ranch actually do the winemaking in their caves. It’s a highly efficient setup, and a very efficient stop, since visitors get to try wines from two operations, and at different stages of development. Top summer wine pick: 2014 Jarman Chardonnay

Presqu’ile Winery is the only winery in Santa Maria Valley with wine caves open to the public. Go for tours of the caves and refreshing wines of great value. Top summer wine pick: 2014 Presqu’ile Sauvignon Blanc

 

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