The Real Happiest Place on Earth, Domaine Carneros

The famous saying goes that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I'd be willing to bet the person who said that had never been to Domaine Carneros.


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The first time I passed Domaine Carneros and really saw it, I was immediately entranced. I was 18 years old, riding shotgun in a coworker's Volkswagen Jetta on our way home from a weekend trip along the American River. We were singing along to tunes shuffling on her iPod when I laid eyes on the winery and turned to her starry-eyed saying, "I'm getting married there," pointing a finger at the magnificent chateau.


Sadly for my teenage dreams, Domaine Carneros doesn't host weddings. But they do have wine club memberships and I consider that to be the next best thing because I love this place.


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Domaine Carneros was founded by the Taittinger family of Champagne, France, and its chateau in Napa Valley was inspired by the classic 18th century Château de la Marquetterie, home to Champagne Taittinger.


Located at the base of Napa Valley and Sonoma, the Domaine Carneros chateau is on a knoll overlooking the vineyards and sweeping hillsides of the Carneros wine region. Carneros is distinguished by its brisk wind and fog influence from the San Pablo Bay, creating weather conditions ideal for growing grape varieties used to make sparkling wines.


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Domaine Carneros produces Pinot Noir and sparkling wines made in the Méthode Champenoise that consistently score above 90 points with the most respected wine critics. Most recently, the 2012 vintage of their tête de cuvée, Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs, received 95 points from Wine Enthusiast.


During a reservation at the Chateau, visitors can choose from four different wine tasting flights, based on their preferences, or order wine by the glass to complement cheese, caviar, or smoked salmon plates. I ask for a sparkling wine flight paired with the sparkling wine cheese plate every time and it hasn't failed me yet!


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I've been a member of the Domaine Carneros sparkling wine club called the Chateau Society since 2016 and always look forward to receiving my shipment. My bff and I share the membership and we love hanging out on the Château Society members-only Club Room and Terrace, taking in the views with a glass of bubbly.


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This spot is high on my list of recommendations to first time visitors to wine country because of its casual atmosphere where you still get the VIP experience and feel like royalty. You can be a total newbie or the snobbiest wine connoisseur... Everyone, I mean everyone, loves this place.


Have you been to Domaine Carneros before? Tell me about your experience in the comments or follow me on Instagram at @sonoma_grape_girl to see my highlights from previous visits.


Photography:

Stephanie Hopkins Photography