Got winos—sorry, enophiles—on your list? Put down that mouse. Take your finger off the touch-screen. Take a cue from Homer Simpson, who imagined the dual benefits of fueling up his car with alcohol: "One for you, one for me." There's a wine wonderland out there, with fireplaces roaring and wine pouring, far away from the maddening mall. And you'll have a dreamy little "isn't it great living in wine country, la la la" story to write on your holiday card.
Now, how to get the booze under the recipient's tree? To ship it legit, shipping stores will do it for a surcharge. Bottles are repacked in styrofoam, same as at discounter the Bottle Barn (3331-A Industrial Drive, Santa Rosa, 707.528.1161), which charges only the cost of the box and the UPS fee. For more attractive packaging, have it shipped directly from the winery. Flying home? Go carry-on. Carol Shelton Wines (3354-B Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa, 707.575.3441) offers "Tasting Room in a Box," a set of six darling little 50 ml bottles ($34.99). At under two ounces, they're TSA-approved, can double as ornaments, or turn the nativity scene into a wasted scene. Keep away from elves.
Or skip the wine. Throughout the year, we groan about tasting room tchotchkes. But where are they when you need them? Look closer, and you'll find some really quite nice items. Have another taste or two, and they're downright enticing.
At Francis Ford Coppola Winery (300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, 707.857.1400), gifts for buffs of the film and wine variety, selected and approved by the auteur, are interspersed amid memorabilia like the Godfather desk. Vineyard camo shirts!
Just up the road, Geyser Peak Winery's quieter, few-frills tasting room (22281 Chianti Road, Geyserville, 800.255.9463) has a few well-selected gifts, like a leather wine picnic set or wine trivia game that goes beyond the basics. For your 2012 holiday party hors d'oeuvre table, here's the 2012 Pinot Grigio ($14) already.
From the creators of Clif Bar, Velo Vino Napa Valley (709 Main St., St. Helena, 707.968.0625) is stocked with bike jerseys, blinky lights, bike-themed coloring books and artist cards, along with the requisite wooden gift box and gourmet foods. Right now, Luna Sport clothing is half off.
In the scenic bosom of the Valley of the Moon, Imagery Estate Winery (14335 Hwy. 12, Glen Ellen, 707.935.4515) combines a fun visit with a healthy inventory of merch, including prints of their one-of-a-kind artist commissioned labels.
Located in venerable stationers Corrick's, Ancient Oak Cellars (637 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707.536.1546) seems to have it all: luscious Zin, crystal decanters, fine pieces from local Art Trails artists, plus holiday cards, gift wrap, and thank-you card sets for after all that. You're welcome.