Top Wine Stories of 2007

Top Ten Class Acts for Valentine's Day

by Courtney Cochran

Here at WineCountry.com, we heart wine country romance, no doubt about it. So whether your idea of the perfect recipe for romance among the vines involves whale watching in Mendocino, tucking into a feast of truffles in Healdsburg or taking tango lessons in Temecula, we've got you covered, just in time for Valentine's Day. .

Much Ado About Matching

Master of Wine Peter Marks will conduct a tasting of Valentine's-appropriate wines paired with chocolates at San Francisco's swank wine destination, Cellar360 (cellar360.com ), on February 16th. Wines to be tasted include a pink sparkler from Down Under, a Zin and several sweet wines, all of which will be matched up with cocoa-themed nibbles prepared by Cellar360 Culinary Specialist Kasey Passen. Tickets run $45 apiece, and space is limited.

Tango In Temecula

The Valentine's Rhythm and Passion Show at Wiens Family Cellars (wienscellars.com ) promises to bring some serious heat to So Cal wine country in the form of the Otero Dance Company, which specializes in Tango and Salsa performances. Guests at the February 16th event will be treated to a show of sensual dance over a spicy Latin-themed dinner, then receive instruction in the art of salsa by members of the Company. Tickets to the interactive soirée are $85 apiece and can be purchased online.

Sweets for the Sweet

Nothing says romance quite like wine and chocolate, except perhaps a bottle of wine that's been covered in chocolate and topped off with a fetching bow. Fortunately for gifters looking to go the extra mile this Valentine's Day, Napa-based Goosecross Cellars (goosecross.com ) specializes in dark or milk chocolate-covered wine bottles. Take your pick of Zinfandel, Merlot or Napa Cab; prices start at $52 and shipping is available to a number of states outside of California.

My Botanical Romance

Little inspires romance like a rugged landscape (remember Wuthering Heights?), and you'll be hard pressed to find many as rugged as Northern California's Mendocino coastline. There, amorous adventurers can explore the 47 breathtaking acres of canyons, coastal bluffs, flower gardens and pine forests that make up the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (gardenbythesea.org), the only public garden in the US located right on the ocean. February brings spring whale migration, so be sure to bring your binoculars.

Livermore Love Fest

Okay, so it's hardly a love-in, but we couldn't resist referring to Wente's (wentevineyards.com) upcoming Romance, Wine and Chocolate tasting as such thanks to its amore-inspiring subject matter. Offered at two times (noon and 3pm) on Sunday, February 17th, the one-hour tasting of five chocolates and wines will focus on how the combination can create a "romantic and sensual experience" between you and your special someone - ooh la la. A limited number of $45 tickets are available online.

Passion In Placerville

Visitors with Valentine's on the mind will find a recipe for romance at Holly's Hill Vineyards' (hollyshill.com) Valentine's Weekend Wine & Food Pairing party in the Sierra Foothills. The event - scheduled for the weekend of February 16th and 17th - will feature live music, gourmet bites and hearty pours of the winery's signature Rhone-inspired wines. Tickets may be purchased for $20 online until February 11 or $25 at the door, and admission includes a complimentary Riedel logo glass.

Carmel Does Diamonds & Denim

Newly reopened Carmel Valley Ranch will play host to this year's Monterey Wine Auction & Gala (montereywines.org ), "Diamonds & Denim," on Saturday, February 16th. Tickets cost $165 apiece and include a three-course dinner and walk-around tasting at the four-diamond property, which boasts a Pete Dye golf course and plum location just 10 minutes from Carmel-by-the-Sea. Vintners from participating wineries will be on hand to pour for guests, who will also have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction.

Passion Meets Compassion

Good news for Valentine's gifters with pet-loving, er, lovers: The Dog Lover's Wine Club (dogloverswineclub.com ) offers bi-monthly, monthly and quarterly shipments of premium California wines that arrive with photos and inspirational stories about man's best friend printed on every bottle. A portion of proceeds from sales goes to helping homeless animals in need, making this wine club membership a Valentine's Day gift that shows you've got both passion and compassion - a heart-warming combo.

Truffle Love In Healdsburg

We're not arguing with whoever said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, we'd just like to amend the saying to allow that, if a meal involves truffles, we're pretty sure it'll win over most women, too. This is why we're anticipating some serious romance on February 9th at Seghesio's (seghesio.com ) annual Black & White Truffle Dinner, which will be hosted by winemaker Ted Seghesio and feature library wines paired with imported truffles prepared by chef Jon Helquist.

Fromage à Toi

It would be tough to find a more intriguing title than the one above for Lucas & Lewellen Winery's (llwine.com ) French-themed winemaker dinner slated to take place on Saturday, February 9th in Buellton near Santa Barbara. The $125-a-head meal - billed as a celebration "of wine, cheese, food, life, and most importantly, love" - will include a medley of cheeses paired with an impressive five courses before wrapping up with a decadent dessert of Bavarian crème-filled lady fingers dipped in Belgian chocolate.