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Swirl n' Spit
Tasting Room of the Week

Lover's Nectar

By Heather Irwin

Winetasting isn't just for tourists! Swirl and spit--wine, that is--with your honey, lovebug, poopsie or hump-munchkin at these tasting rooms that are just made for lovers.

Sterling: Though you'll have to fork over a few dollars, you can join the 50-foot-high club as you rock and sway for the eight or so minutes it takes your tram of love to reach the winery. Enter the winery with a lovely glow that will have your tasting neighbors saying, "I'll have what she's having." 1111 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga. Tasting fee, $10-$15. Open daily, 10:30am-4:30pm. 707.942.3345.

V. Sattui: You are so keeping it real, baby. Let your date know that you're old-school and you don't need none of that fancy $80 wine to get your buzz on. Sattui doesn't charge a tasting fee, leaving you plenty of extra pocket change for that 12-inch sausage she's been eyeing (in the deli! in the deli!). 1111 White Lane, St. Helena. Open daily, 9am-5pm (winter hours). 707.963.7774.

Hess Collection: Light his mind on fire with an art collection that says you're more than just a sex kitten; you're an appreciator of art-type-stuff. Yeah. 4411 Redwood Road, Napa. Open daily, 10am-4pm. Tasting fee, $5-$10. 707.255.1144.

J Vineyards and Winery: Bubbly is, like, so classy. And for $10 in J's Wine Center, you get some tasty grub as well. For those intent on lingering, J's Bubble Room offers table service and more extensive food and wine pairings, currently featuring an all-bubbly flight of sparkling wines ordinarily kept in reserve and paired with such notables as lobster bisque, seared foie gras and smoked salmon and caviar. Now that's living! 111447 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg. Wine Center, open daily, 10am-5pm; Bubble Room, open Friday-Sunday only, 11am-4:30pm. $35 for the all-bubbly flight. 707.431.3646.

Kendall-Jackson: As spring approaches, the birds and bees (and your lover) start getting a little randy. Chase him into the burgeoning culinary and sensory gardens of the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center, and play "you Tarzan, me Jane" for a cheap afternoon of monkey love. 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton. Open daily, 10am-5pm. Tasting fees, $2-$10. 707.571.8100.

Darioush: Welcome to your Persian Palace, darling. Suddenly he's the prince of Arabia and she's a harem girl. Or something. Just go with it. You're role-playing. 4240 Silverado Trail, Napa. Open daily, 10:30am-5pm. Tasting fees, $5-$10. 707.257.2345.

Russian Hill Vineyards: For all you cheeseballs who are actually planning to propose this Valentine's Day, this is your spot. A vast vista, a Georgian manor and a lovely wine say, "Darling, I could never afford all this, but, hey, I've got a Honda and all my hair, so what do you say?" 4525 Slusser Road, Windsor. Open Thursday-Monday, 10am-5pm. No tasting fee. 707.575.9428.

Niebaum-Coppola: Take your love to the winery of Francis Ford. He spends the afternoon looking at Godfather and Rocky memorabilia. You sip on darling little cans of Sophia sparkling wine. Everybody's happy. 1991 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford. Open daily, 10am-5pm. $15, includes logo glass. 707.968.1100.

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From the February 9-15, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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