Back when I was visiting my sister in San Francisco this spring, we planned a day trip to Napa Valley and Sonoma - a much needed girls' getaway. Although our parents never really drink wine or alcohol, we have both acquired a taste for wine and enjoy a good glass every now and then. Neither of us had ever been to wine country, so we thought it was the perfect time to visit! To help keep costs down we brought our own snacks/lunch and split wine samplings (the wineries we visited actually encouraged us to share!).
We played dress up.
We rode in style.
We sipped wine.
I got slightly dizzy in the middle of the first tasting to which my sister, in amazement and possibly horror, stated, "wait, seriously?! already?!" Helloooo, early 30's!
Although we visited four wineries, we actually only tasted at two places while the other two were more for sightseeing.
Domaine Carneros: Our first stop was this beautiful vineyard for the sparkling wine sampler paired with the sparkling cheese plate (my sister + me + cheese = VERY happy girls). We were encouraged to split the sampler and this helped decrease the cost significantly! This would be a great place to visit with a loved one or even a group of friends.
Arista: This was a favorite for both of us. We shared a wine sampler and received generous amounts of tastings. Afterwards we sat on some lawn chairs in the garden area, snacked on fruit and nuts we had brought from home and just soaked in the sun. The atmosphere of this winery is very laid back and I think that's what we loved most about it (well, the wine too).
Castello di Amorosa: Beautiful grounds with a castle and some farm animals, but very crowded. There were people taking prom and quinceanera photos everywhere. We had been forewarned by friends that this was a popular tourist spot so we opted not to do a tasting here.
Chateau Montelena Winery: Another beautiful chateau and large garden area. Unfortunately, there was a big, private event going on at the chateau so we just walked around the garden area and snacked again. Another popular tourist spot so we didn't plan on tasting here and decided to just see the grounds instead.
Tips: Plan your trip ahead of time as some wineries require reservations. Bring your own snacks so that you're not drinking on an empty stomach and lots of water so that you don't get dehydrated. Some wineries will let you bring your own food so that you can have a picnic. If you don't have a designated driver, then make sure you book a tour group or driver! But if you have to rent a car, a convertible is the way to go (just as we did)!
Photos: Canon 5d mk ii | Canon 50mm f/1.4
Have you ever been to California wine country or another winery? Recommendations?