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FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2004 file photo, Coratina olives hang from a tree at the Round Pound Estate with vineyards in the background in Rutherford, Calif. Olive oil production in the U.S. is steadily growing. The domestic industry, with mostly high-end specialty brands, has gone from 1 percent of the national olive oil market five years ago to 3 percent today. To know a good oil from another, simply take a small sip, then blowing out through your upper teeth. This is the test that tells. A tour of the processing rooms is interesting, and depending on the time of year, you can see how the olive oil is pressed. Adding to the stop at Round Pond, is a tour of their wine cellars and naturally a tasting. The family owned business is one of the newest estates to be developed. Officially arriving on the scene in 2007, this grow establishment is making a great reputation for itself. It is designed to produce wines that are a balanced blend of artisan techniques and cutting-edge technology. Hand-sorting twice and attention to details in the fermenting and aging process gives the wine at Round Pond its distinctive characters. width=

It’s impossible not to be won over by the scenery and the hospitality of California’s wine country. Once you experience its beauty, it will leave indelible memories that promise to last a lifetime. You unavoidably engage your full range of senses when exploring this rich, complex land. A coach tour is a great way to take it all in, especially if you have a short time to spend.

The last stop, on our first day took you to Sonoma Valley and Nicholson Ranch. Their hospitality extended to a delicious dinner on a patio where the sky bursting with stars is your roof. You don’t want to miss out on an evening in wine country so a walk down to the pond, with a side trip to visit the horses, caps the day off perfectly. The first day leaves you exhausted in a soft and relaxing way, and a good night’s sleep is pretty much a guarantee.

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California Wine Country

Taking a tour of the California wine country is like stepping into heaven. The air is filled with a particular scent that keeps me in mind of the richness of the land. The endless acres of grape vines that undulate over graceful slopes makes me want to just sit and stare. On a sunny morning when the dew has not quite lifted, it’s magical and the sunsets are beyond description. It’s not a wonder that such a paradise produces some of the best wine in the world.

A person can wing it, go solo and travel from vineyard to vineyard on their own, but the recommended approach is through an established wine tour operator. Trafalgar is one of the most respected tour companies with one of the best travel agendas through Napa Valley that anyone could wish for. You might think that being towed along on a huge bus with forty other people isn’t your cup of tea or – your glass of wine, but it’s honestly the best way to get the full experience of this incredible country.

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Early Wine history

California wines are not the newcomers to the scene that many think. It may be true that we have only just recently gained the respect of the world as a great wine producing area, but our history goes back over 240 years. In fact, it takes time to make an excellent wine, and it takes time to produce a superb vineyard. While our domestic wines have taken a rightful place in the world over the past 40 years, California has been a center of cultivation for over 240 years.

As far back as 1769 when a Franciscan missionary brought the grape up from Mexico an industry was born. The industry served the tables and the alters of Franciscan monks from San Diego to Sonoma Valley. This first grape brought to California was rightfully named as the Mission Grape.

Father Serra established vineyards along his route of missions at 21 different sites in what is known today as the Camino Real. The residential cleaning of the rugged terrain and cultivating the grape was a natural fit for California. Not to mention the climate and the land were a perfect combination for the vine to thrive.

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grapereg

It’s been another challenging year with extreme drought and forest fires threatening the vineyards of California. The dry weather makes for a stronger fruit, but a balance is crucial to the final product. Although there are challenges, winemakers continue to put out excellent wines year after year. What are the secrets of the great winemakers of the West Coast? Some are not willing to share their magic touches saying it’s all an art and hard to put into words. Your local bbq catering company can afford to show you the ropes to some extent but I guess many experienced wine makers tend hold the public’s curiosity, and wisely still do not give up all their secrets.

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