Duckhorn Portfolio Wine Blog
Posts written by Neil Bernardi, Vice President of Winemaking and many special guest bloggers. This collection of insights on winemaking, farming, entertaining and more is a great way to learn about the excitement of winery life and tips for enjoying the wines we produce.
Sheltered between the Mayacamas Mountains and Vaca Range, the Napa Valley is an agricultural preserve with over 53,000 acres of ready to explore open space. While you may come for the wine, it’s hard to not be captivated by the beauty that is wine country, and the fertile land which makes it all possible. These are three great ways to get outside and experience the beauty that is the Napa Valley.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or up for a stroll, there are miles upon miles of trails perfect for any level.
Close to our Migration Visitor Center is The Stanly Ranch Area Public Trailhead. This paved path meanders 1.5 miles out and back through Carneros, with breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards. During the spring, bright yellow mustard flowers will pop up between the rows of vines, soon to be followed by bright green vineyard leaves, and of course, plentiful clusters of plump grapes come fall. This is a fantastic spot to visit any time of the growing season, as it gives you an up close look at the cycle in the vineyard.
Skyline Regional Park is a favorite of locals. Located in Coombsville, this park features some more strenuous hikes, giving you breathtaking views. On a clear day, you can see the San Francisco skyline from atop the Buckeye Trail. This park does require a $5 entrance fee. For trailhead specifics, visit SkylinePark.org
There are a number of places to rent bicycles in Napa Valley; both in Yountville and Napa proper, as well as Calistoga, making traveling by bike not only a fun but easy way to explore wine country. It is not uncommon to see a group of weekend cyclists take a pit stop at our Paraduxx winery just outside of Yountville. Many rental locations offer both traditional bikes as well as e-bikes, giving you a bit more range for a little less work!
There is currently a 12.5 mile paved path, The Napa Valley Vine Trail, stretching from Napa’s Kennedy Park north to Calistoga, which gives you great vineyard views, and a look at the famous Napa Valley welcome sign.
This trail will eventually span 47 miles, connecting the Vallejo Ferry up to Calistoga, and will be lined with hundreds of trees to provide shade! Learn more about this ambitious project, at VineTrail.org.
Hot Air Balloon
Traveling by hot air balloon is such a unique experience, and a real treat for the adventurous! These excursions typically start in the wee hours of the morning, but are well worth it, as you get a bird’s eye view of daybreak across the valley. Flights launch from various points, including Yountville, and last 3-4 hours. Reservations are required, and flights are weather dependent, so this activity is best if you are flexible in your itinerary.
Pairs Well on the Go
While you’re out finding must do’s in Napa it’s normal to work up an appetite. This simple Seasoned Mixed Nuts recipe is the perfect option for when you’re on the go. Not to mention, they go great with wine too!
No matter how you choose to visit Napa Valley, we know you will have a wonderful time taking in the sights and sounds of one of the most exquisite wine regions in the world.
Drying citrus for decorating or eating, is an easy and wonderful way to add beautiful color to your holiday decor. You can add citrus slices to greenery like wreaths and garlands, or serve with your cheese and charcuterie board. You can even have a fun family craft night in front of the fireplace while making a string of citrus for your holiday tree! A few simple steps and you are ready to go, however you choose to use them.
1 - Start the Heat
Set the oven at 170 -200 degrees or use a dehydrator. The dehydrator requires a bit more time, but less watching and moving. If you’re in a pinch for time, the oven is a better choice - plus it makes the house smell so good!
2 - Gather your Citrus:
It’s fun to do a mixture with different types of citrus - Navel oranges, blood oranges, Cara Cara (they have a beautiful pink color inside), tangelos, Meyer lemons - or any other citrus you’d like to use. The variety of sizes will look great.
3 - Chop Away:
Using a sharp knife - thinly slice the citrus - 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Try to keep them consistent in thickness so they dry evenly. Gently lay them between two towel layers and press to absorb some of the juice released when slicing. This will allow for more even drying when you pop them in the oven. It's a good idea to remove the seeds as well before heating.
4 - Bake or Dry:
Bake: If you’re using the oven, line your sheet pans with parchment paper and layer the citrus down, trying not to overlap and leaving a bit of space between each slice. Place in oven. When citrus slices look about halfway through baking, move them onto a drying rack. Then place back on top of the cookie sheet & parchment before putting back in the oven, to catch any drippings. When they are dried to your liking, remove from oven and let cool completely.
Dry: In you’re using the dehydrator - layer the citrus on the trays, leaving a bit of space between each slice. Close dehydrator and set to the desired temperature. 145 is recommended but you can turn to the highest temperature on your dehydrator (usually 165) if you’d like. They will be done in 3-5 hours depending on thickness and temperature. Let cool.
5 - Decorate:
Making these together with family is a fun and simple idea that is easy to make into an annual holiday tradition. Add them to a centerpiece for the table, create a unique ornament, or embellish your gift wrapping with a natural touch. The possibilities are endless and you can enjoy your handiwork with a glass of any of our Duckhorn, Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Decoy, Canvasback or Calera wines when you are done! Shop our online wine store to find your favorite.
Looking to elevate your occasion at home? Us too. Check out these four tips for creating the perfect date night in at home.
- All about the Ambiance
We know diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and with that, I’d say flowers are a close second. Grab a small bouquet from your local market, cut some stems from your yard, or gather your own bouquet while on a walk. Don’t have a favorite vase? I find myself using all kinds of different glassware to display fresh blooms throughout my house. For an added touch *chef’s kiss*, print a custom menu for the evening.
- “Without Music, Life Would be a Mistake” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Set the mood with a custom playlist! Spotify has a lot of great, already curated lists, such as Italian Cooking Music & one of my favorites, French Café Music. I also am a huge fan of making my own playlist, time permitting!
- What’s for Dinner?
One of the hardest parts about date night, is figuring out where to eat! Write down your 6 favorite local restaurants, numbering them 1 through 6, & roll a die to select which place! Or, if you’d rather stay in, try this delicious recipe for dumplings, which are a lot of fun to make with a partner! Someone can roll the dough and place the filling, while the other seals them up and mans the stove!
We’d be remiss in not mentioning the wine! Arguably the best part of any good dinner, other than the company of course, is the wine selection. Wine Folly is a great resource for basic pairing tips, & our customer service team is always available to help you make a selection from our portfolio of wines as well!
5 things that have made my time at home much better!
As a wine lover who lives alone, my Coravin has been nearly ESSENTIAL while sheltering in place. This tool allows me to pour just a glass (or two) at a time, without the pressure of having to uncork a whole bottle. It is on the expensive side, but if you find you are like me, and don’t always polish off a bottle in a few days, it is definitely worth the up front investment. Coravins are also great for the afficionado who wants to see how a particular wine is aging but doesn’t want to uncork the whole thing. Browse through our selection of wines to find the perfect one for you to try your new Coravin with.
- Anxiety Blanket
You’re never fully dressed without your…weighted blanket? I accessorize my WFH outfit daily with my 10-pound, light blue fuzzy blanket, which helps keep me calm, cool and collected no matter what the day throws at me! I am by no means a health professional, so please do your research to determine if this would work well for you before purchasing, but mine has worked wonders!
- Positivity Notes!
Staying positive has been the name of the game for me! I picked a cute font, typed up a little note to “Drink more Water”, printed and hung within my line of sight from my work area. Pinterest is a great place to find motivating quotes, positive affirmations or other great little typography posters that are ready to download, print and inspire!
- Digital Photo Frame
Not being able to see my family has been challenging! My grandma lives alone, and in order to help stay connected, we set her up with a digital photo frame. It connects to her Wi-Fi and the whole family can send photos through an app on your phone and have them directly uploaded to her frame – from over 2,000 miles away. It has been so nice to share photos from my socially distant walks, and has been especially great since she isn’t texting savvy.
- Restaurant Group on Facebook
I like cooking at home, but there’s nothing like great takeout! As businesses begin to reopen, communities are creating Facebook groups and pages to highlight the many restaurant offerings. Many of your favorite sit-down spots have transitioned to curbside and delivery, and there’s no better way to figure out what’s for dinner than being inspired by photos from your neighbors!
Let’s face it, the wine aisle can be an intimidating space. Here are a few tips to help you navigate it with confidence!
Tip 1: Get the lay of the land
Whether you are at your local wine shop, or a larger chain grocery store, there is some sort of method to their madness when it comes to organization. Understanding how things are shelved makes paring down your options a bit easier. Often you will see the wine section separated by origin; US vs Imported (French wines, Italian wines, California wines, etc.), followed by varietal (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Blends, etc.).
Tip 2: Determine The Occasion
Whether you’re enjoying an anniversary dinner, laying low on girls’ night or just celebrating Tuesday, figuring out what the evening entails always helps me decide what to take home.
Tip 3: With or Without Food
The next question I like to ask myself is, “am I going to be enjoying my wine with, or without food?” A good rule of thumb is that when enjoying wine alongside food, the intensity of the wine should match the intensity of the food. Then I like to discern if I am in the mood for a slightly chilled white wine, or a red. Check out our recipe pairings for more ideas.
Tip 4: Look For Something Familiar - Then Maybe Branch Out
A great way to confidently branch out is to reach for other wines that are in the portfolio of a winery which you know and love. Strong collections such as The Duckhorn Portfolio benefit from world class winemakers who collaborate. Although each of our wineries has its own dedicated winemaker, they benefit from working with one another. Wineries with an established pedigree also have access to high quality fruit, which should instill confidence that you’ll end up selecting something you love. For example, if you really like our Migration Pinot Noir, our Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs might be something you would like as well as Katey Larwood, our Goldeneye winemaker, and Dana Epperson, our Migration winemaker, frequently talk shop!
Tip 5: Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Have a question? Ask the wine purveyor at your local wine shop, or consult your phone for trusted wine blogs, publications or apps with scores to get a handle for what others have liked or not liked as much.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is not whether you made a sommelier level pairing, but if you enjoy the wine with the ones you are sharing it with! Interested in bringing home a few bottles of our wines? Use the wine finder tool to locate our wines in your neighborhood.