I am excited to be sharing the details of our recent trip to wine country! Our shipments of wine are slowly arriving and it is obvious we lost track of how much we were buying – which is easy to do after several tastings!! We had been to Napa a couple years prior. This trip we added the Sonoma region on – they are very close together and this is easy to do in one trip!
Where we stayed: We were so lucky to be able to stay at the condo of one of our friends’ family. It was one block off of the Sonoma Plaza – which is the central area of the town and where most restaurants and shops are. If you are looking at VRBOs or rentals, I would suggest trying to stay around this area. We could easily walk to breakfast each morning and I enjoyed the cute little shops.
What we did: We flew in on a Thursday evening, and left on a Monday night. This gave us 3.5 days to fill with wine fueled fun. We chose to schedule all of our winery visits. You will find that most wineries offer tours and, aside from drinking the wine, this tends to be a highlight of the visit. Tours usually require advanced reservations. If you do not schedule tours, most have tasting rooms that you can drop into. Tasting rooms are a much quicker visit and reservations are usually not required. All wineries and restaurants discussed below.
Friday was deemed our Napa day – We started the day with breakfast at The Sunflower in Sonoma, and then drove to Napa. We toured 3 wineries this day (Domaine Carneros, Cliff Lede, and Viader). A considerable amount of time was spent at each one doing tours, tastings, and visiting, so this 3 were more than enough to fill the day. We concluded with a dinner at Farmstead in Napa where we all made the smart decision to drink water!
Saturday we did a bus tour. This was a fun way to get to tour several, smaller wineries. We used the Platypus tour. The bus picked us up at our condo and took us to 5 wineries. Lunch, water, and a small snack were provided. We were responsible for all of the tasting fees and any purchases. After the tour, we had dinner at The Sonoma Grill.
Sunday: This was my favorite day! We drove north of Sonoma to Cloverdale to visit Blue Rock Winery. We spent the morning here and were lucky enough to have a chef come in and prepare lunch for us! After spending a good portion of the day there, we then went to Martin Ray Winery. We had reservations at The Girl and The Fig, but spent too much time at the wineries and had to cancel our reservation. The guys were very excited that we got In-And-Out Burger for dinner instead!
Domaine Carneros: We purposely started our day at this property as they are known for their champagne! The property is beautiful and I highly recommend the tour. I really enjoyed hearing about how the champagne is made and tips for drinking and selecting it! I also really enjoyed their Pino Noir.
Cliff Lede: This was a really fun stop. The owner is known for his love of rock and roll – each block of vineyard is named after different albums. There is an impressive collection of art and guitars in addition to the great wines.
Viader: The property at Viader is just breathtaking! One of the prettiest wineries we visited. We loved sitting on the deck overlooking the vineyard and lake while enjoying some incredible wines. We had the pleasure of meeting the owner herself, and hearing her story only made me love the wine more!
Blue Rock Vineyard: This was my favorite winery We loved the wines and loved the people and property equally as much! The winery is privates and you must schedule a visit in advance. Because it is private, you are the only people on the estate at the time of the tour. I cannot wait to go back!
Martin Ray Winery: This was a fun winery to end our day with. The beautiful and casual outside seating let us relax and enjoy the beautiful weather. We snacked and sampled the great wines.
Where we ate:
The Sunflower – This cute cafe serves breakfast and lunch using locally sourced ingredients. We ate breakfast here and loved the food and quaint atmosphere. There is really cute outdoor seating and limited indoor seating. No reservations taken. One thing to note, if you are going to breakfast, the line forms early – order your food first and then find seating
Farmstead – One of our favorite restaurants in Napa! We have eaten here before and always enjoy the fresh, changing menu. The restaurant is large and reservations are required. They have beautiful outdoor spaces to explore.
El Dorado Kitchen – We ate breakfast here twice we loved it so much!! The restaurant serves all meals, but we walked here a couple mornings and loved their omlets and breakfast burritos. Next time I want to have dinner here!
The Sonoma Grill – We had a wonderful dinner here. We all enjoyed various seafoods and were very impressed with the pastas. The heirloom tomato appetizer was my favorite!
The Girl and The Fig – I feel like I had to still mention this as we had reservations and didn’t make it. It is one of the top places to visit in Sonoma and is known for their amazing French cuisine. Next visit!!
Tips: I have a handful of tips after being to wine country a couple times.
- Use a map when planning your visits. Whether you are driving or have a driver, you will want to pay attention to how spread out your wineries are.
- Drink Pedialyte. This probably sounds crazy, but drinking so much of this Pedialyte powder mixed in water kept me hydrated and headache free most of the trip!
- Visit some small wineries. The big names get a lot of attention, but I had so much fun at the smaller wineries and hearing their stories. The bus tour was a great way for us to visit several smaller wineries.
- Go with great friends! Our trip was made all the more enjoyable by spending time with wonderful friends!
Let me know if you have any questions before heading to wine country!