The first stop on our sparkling wine tour in Carneros and Napa Valley is the Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards in Los Carneros. The Los Carneros wine region (AVA) runs along the southern boundary of both Sonoma and Napa Counties. The breeze off the San Pablo Bay provides the ideal growing climate for the predominant sparkling wine grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Gloria Ferrer is about a 45-minute drive from the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in good traffic. You will want to avoid visiting Gloria Ferrer on any day there is a race car event at the Infineon Raceway on Highway 121.
The Spanish wine family that owns the Freixenet Cava house in Spain owns Gloria Ferrer. Freixenet is Spain’s largest producer and exporter of Cava (the Spanish term for sparkling wine). The Ferrer Family completed Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyard in 1986 and the winery is the first to produce sparkling wine in Sonoma County. The vineyard manager and the winemaker have been there since the beginning.
Gloria Ferrer produces a wonderful lineup of sparkling wines, most of which are sold widely in retail wine shops and warehouse stores. When at the winery, try the Carneros Cuvee. The winery is currently pouring the 1998. This is a delicious sparkler that sells for $50 at the winery. Gloria Ferrer also produces several still wines, one of which is a Pinot Noir that we think is one of the better values you will find. The Pinot Noir can be found at many fine wine stores for around $20.
Besides enjoying the Gloria Ferrer wines on a visit, sitting on the terrace and savoring the view is an absolutely wonderful experience. Purchase a glass of one of the sparkling wines, which range from $4 to $10 a pour and sit out on the terrace enjoying wine, cheese and the view. Tastes of the table wine are also available at $2 or $3 per 2-oz pour. If you have time, tours are offered for $10 per person at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.
The Good: One of wine country’s best views, delicious sparkling wine, excellent Pinot Noir
The Bad: Fee for the tour