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Experiencing the grape harvest

We may be in the final stretch of harvest, but there's still time to celebrate this iconic fall ritual by finding the perfect perch where you can sip a glass of wine.

You may want to see the craze of crush, picking in action, or simply take in the view of hillsides ribbed with vineyards. Whatever the case, we have some impressive finds.

Few people know that the balcony off the tasting room at Opus One offers a lovely view of Napa Valley, one of the best in Wine Country, and the wine is definitely worth the stop. The winery is a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and France's Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and it's an elegant temple, a cross between a Mayan palace and the Battlestar Galactica. Opus One has been a standout, one of Napa Valley's most dramatic architectural statements since its first vintage in 1979. The wine lover will be happy to know that the pours of the tasty Bordeaux blend are generous. (www.opusonewinery.com, 944-9442, 7900 St. Helena Highway, Oakville.)

For people who love bubbles, a great spot to sip sparkling wine is at Domaine Carneros, as the winery is on hilltop surrounded by vineyards. This is no everyday winery. It's built in the style of an 18th-century French chateau. Champagne giant Taittinger is one of the founders and the architecture makes a statement about the winery's French heritage. The sparklers are top-rate and the winery offers tasty pairings on the patio. (www.domainecarneros.com, 257-0101, 1240 Duhig Road, Napa.)

For those who get a kick out of high-altitude sipping, Bella Vineyards offers a striking view. The picnic area is in a swath of olive trees, a gorgeous spot to take in the landscape. The nearby cave offers a tasting room and the zinfandels and syrahs are as tasty as they come. These varietals are produced from vines that are 80 to 100 years old. The wines are full of character. On most weekends the winery chef offers pairings.(www.bellavineyards.com, 473-9171, 9711 W. Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg).

— Peg Melnik


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