Fact: It is Friday evening which means no one will read this post. However, tonight is my second night out of four so that means that it’s more like a Tuesday for me than a Friday. Hopefully you all have better things to do than read this post, but that’s okay.
Since I like to travel and I like to get suggestions from other people when I travel, I would like to share my adventures in Napa in case any of you would like to go! I spent a week in San Francisco last year, and you can catch my recaps here in case you are headed there in the future.
After the San Francisco half marathon, Celia (who PR’d in the marathon!) and I headed to Napa to celebrate with a little wine tasting. We didn’t really have any plans in mind, and I’ve found that some of the best vacations are totally winged. I had gotten some suggestions from one of the nurses before I left, and the rest we just figured out. At the end of the day, you’re just going to drink wine (which honestly mostly tastes the same to me…), so it’s a win-win situation no matter what.
The first matter of business was renting a car and driving…which luckily I did in June, so not too long ago. The glories of city life. We headed across the Bay Bridge and up to Napa. Philz Coffee in hand, thank you to coffee-loving #medicalsweatsquad member Meggie for the suggestion.
First on the list of wineries was Sterling, which was recommended by a nurse. We started there since it’s further north up by Calistoga, and we figured it was best to head far and then work our way back down. Sterling is a little on the pricier side (I’m cheap…) at $35, but you get a gondola ride, five wine tastings, and a souvenir wine glass to take home with you, so it’s definitely worth it.
Sterling had some tasty wines (again, I can’t really tell the difference…) and a nice atmosphere. They have a little patio up top, and it would be nice if you could bring a little picnic with you, but apparently Napa has tons of laws against food. Sad.
Next up on the list was Robert Mondavi, as I had seen it on many lists about wineries in Napa…and we drove past it on our way to Sterling so we knew where it was. The parking lot was in the middle of the vineyards, so the first thing we did was snap some pictures…
We checked out our options for tasting and touring, and it ended up that we could get a 30 minute tour with two tastings for $15, so we went with that option. With some time before our tour, we took some more snapshots.
The tour was a little walk through the vineyards and where the wine is made and stored, with some education along the way. We learned about the barrels (French oak!) and how all wine is white and the skins are added back to make red wine red. See? This was purely and educational trip.
I would recommend Robert Mondavi for its pretty estate, as well as the tour…they also had a longer 90 minute option which goes more in depth and gets you more wine.
We decided to go for one more stop during the day, as it was getting later and wineries mainly close between 5-6pm…and I had to drive! Celia’s SF friend had mentioned Domaine Carneros, so we headed there…it’s a little west of downtown Napa. As we drove up, we both commented on how pretty it was.
We walked up and grabbed a table out on the patio, overlooking the vineyards. Definitely a nice view. This winery is known for it’s sparkling wine, and we both ordered flights of sparkling white wines with a cheese plate to go with it. I love cheese.
This definitely would be a great place to hang out for a little while, and I believe it’s the only full service winery/restaurant in Napa. (Don’t quote me on that…) It’s open a little later than the rest of the vineyards, and the view is very nice. While I don’t necessarily have a preference, the sparkling wine was a good way to mix it up from the wine at other locations.
After a nice evening in a hotel room spent watching the Olympics (finally!), we made a stop at one more winery before heading back to San Francisco. We looked for one not too far north and a little different than what we’d been to before. We found Ma(i)sonry in Yountville and made our way there. Ma(i)sonry doubles as an art gallery with some pieces of art that are definitely out of my price range. We realized that we needed to make a reservation, so we called ahead and made a reservation for about 30 minutes from the time we called. Not too shabby.
This isn’t really a vineyard, moreso a place where smaller wineries bring their wines to showcase, so you have a bunch to choose from. You can either pick a pre-determined flight, make your own flight, or tell the server what kind of wine you like and he’ll make a flight for you. (That’s what I did.) The location is cute with a back patio with couches around fire pits (for later in the evening?). You can also get a cheese plate, although we had just finished lunch (and ice cream…) so we skipped that.
A cute stop different than just visiting a vineyard, and it was nice that the server made a little flight for me based on what I told him I like. Also reasonably priced at around $10-$15 for many of the flights.
I think we hit a wide variety of different vineyards/wineries which each had a little something to offer…from the gondola ride, to the tour, to the cheese plate, to the specialized service. I’m not sure how much time one should spend in Napa, but having each winery be a little different made each one special and worth visiting. Plus, we hit the right amount since I was driving and anymore wine wouldn’t have been the best move.
And cheese definitely makes all wine better. WIN.