My 3 day adventure to the Napa Valley and Sonoma, in California’s wine region, had me in awe of wine all over again. Growing up in Australia, in a world of beer, Bacardi Breezers and anything cheap and nasty, (Passion Pop, I’m looking at you!) wine wasn’t really on my radar of drinks I would typically drink. It was something my grandparents drank! I became a little bit more ‘refined’ at 22 when I had my first glass wine. It was a hot summers day in my home town, and the glass of Sauvignon Blanc was making it’s way down quite nicely. Plus, I felt bloody fancy with that wine glass in my hand! That was it, I was officially a wine drinker. I am embarrassed to admit, that a good bottle of wine to me at the time, was anything with a pretty label. I was an uneducated fool. I didn’t truly appreciate drinking good wine until I was 25, when I went on my first wine tour in Western Australia’s Margaret River.
Since then my appreciation and education of wine has come further along. The passion of the wine makers, the growing of the grapes, the smelling, the swishing, the airing, temperatures, soil, and oh my I could go on and on! Learning about wine and what happens behind the scenes before the bottles hit the shelves, always amazes me. If you are completely clueless about wine, a wine enthusiast, just buy the cheapest wine type person, pour whatever you got type person, or want to learn more about wine, 3 days is just about perfect to soak up some serious California sunshine and sip wine until your heart is
drenched in content.
If you’re landing in San Francisco, the drive to The Napa Valley or Sonoma County will be one of your favourite parts. Going through the city, driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and making the transition from city to wine country, gets you pumped up and thirsty for your first glass of wine to kick start your getaway. My first stop off was Gloria Ferrer. The service here was not only phenomenal, the cheese plate had me making sure I kept my composure and not drool all over the table. Of course, my favourite part was the wine. And it was sparkling wine! When I think champagne or sparkling wine, I usually think of some sort of celebration. After Gloria Ferrer introduced me to the wonderful world of flavourful sparkling wines, I am so making sure I enjoy it more often.
I had to be dragged away from my precious cheese platter and sparkling wine to head to the next stop, Cornerstone Sonoma. After my trip to Central America I am now a sucker for a good empanada, so I just had to pick the empanadas off Cornerstone’s lunch menu. The pastry was crumbly, delicious and they lived up to my standards! Although, the vege empanada kicked the beef empanada’s butt! There was only water at lunch, I was being a good girl and readying myself for the next wine tasting. There are 3 tasting rooms at Cornerstone. I ended up at Tricycle Wine Partners, that carries wines from Poseidon Vineyards and Obsidian Ridge. These guys know their wine, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Before you leave Cornerstone, make sure you look around the property. They have beautiful gardens, artwork and boutique shops. I thought the property was gorgeous! Even if you are all about the wine and not the shopping on this trip, make sure you pop into Nomadic Chic. Nomadic Chic carries everything from jewellery and clothes, to furniture and home accessories, made from independent designers all around the world.
My third and final winery for the day was Viansa Winery. I loved the view from Viansa the best. The wine, of course, was delicious. By the time I left Viansa I was feeling more confident in my knowledge about wine, and this little Aussie was ready to fully immerse myself into the art of wine. This was just day 1, but I could already see the passion in this wine region from the locals, it was inspiring. With the wine tastings coming to an end for the day, it was off to check into the Silverado Resort. When you settle into your room, head outside to watch that Californian sunset over Silverado’s lush green golf course. With a wine in hand, of course!
Waking up the Silverado is something special. I headed out early to warm my face in the morning sunshine, while sipping on a mimosa. Hey this is wine country, you can drink at anytime of the day and no one is judging you! With my mimosa, or two, polished off, I was ready to hit up the next wine tasting at Deerfields Ranch Winery. Have you ever been to a wine cave? I hadn’t until I got to Deerfields. Walking through the doors and entering the wine cave, I was excited to see barrels and barrels of wine lining the walls. I just knew this was going to be a memorable tasting. This is where I really saw a passion for wine making and what goes on behind the scenes come to life. Seated in their comfortable living room style tasting area, it was my favourite tasting out of all three days. At Deerfields, I also learnt how to truly taste the wine covering your whole palette. Trust me, you discover a whole new appreciation for wine here.
The 2005 Gold Dessert Wine was hands down my favourite. A bottle of this to myself, a block of chocolate and Netflix, is my kind of Netflix and Chill. Macphail Tasting Room was next on the agenda. The decor included a soil wall. Yep, a soil as in dirt wall. This feature wall is lined with four different soils from the Macphail Vineyards. I loved the staff here. They were fun, engaging and they had great recommendations for what restaurants you should check out around the area. Taking on the recommendation for HopMonk Tavern for dinner, it was time to get more food into my belly. HopMonk Tavern was my type of scene. It was super chill, it had nice big outdoor beer garden to enjoy the afternoon sunshine, and a nice cool indoor seating area for those of you who want to have a break from the heat. It had some damn tasty food, and the drink specials were perfect. I opted out of wine and ended my night with my all time favourite, a margarita.
In my opinion, no trip to wine country is complete without a visit to the spa. Having my facial booked on the last day was perfect. It was booked early to start my day off super relaxed. Bliss Organic Day Spa, in Sonoma County, was hands down the best facial I have ever had. And this is coming from someone who is an aesthetician by trade. Bliss Organic Day Spa uses Eminence Skincare and offers an extensive spa menu to get you totally Blissed out, pun intended.
After all the eating, drinking and being merry the last 2 days, there was no wine with lunch. Can you believe it!? I wanted to be fully aware of my surroundings when I spent the afternoon at Safari West. In middle of wine country there is a 400 acre African Wildlife Preserve. It is just gorgeous! Seated high on top of their 4×4 vehicles, I got a great view of the park and all the animals. My inner kid made an appearance here! Then it came to the last supper. With my short journey to wine country coming to an end, I couldn’t of asked for a better way to end it then having a 5 star meal at Valette. This was a dinner I am going to remember for a long time! It was indescribable how good my dinner was here.
There are so many more (well duh!) wineries around both Napa Valley and Sonoma County, so get your wine on and visit as many as you like! It is a whirl-wind 3 day trip, but I know that you will enjoy every minute! By the time you leave, you will have this mantra running through your head – Life is too short, to drink bad wine!
Wineries I Visited
Best Features: Their sparkling wine and the view from their patio.
Best Features: This winery is big, take a walk around and enjoy their beautiful garden.
Best Features: The view here is awesome. Totally off the topic of wine, but a serious have to mention, Viansa has these big chunky chocolate chip cookies, that you absolutely cannot walk away without! Goes well with a glass of red!
Deerfield Ranch Winery
Best Features: The wine cave! Apart from that, the passion for wine here, is something to look up to. All starting from a home made wine kit 34 years ago, and progressing into a lovely vineyard with incredible wines.
Macphail Tasting Room
Best Feature: The decor here is just fun!
Where I Stayed
I loved this place! It has everything you need to enjoy a completely luxury filled 3 night getaway. Golf course, rooms for any budget, great views, a bar and restaurant, and the new mini market. This mini market is an extremely clever add on, that Silverado opened recently. They offer groceries, fresh baked goods, starbucks coffee and of course wine. After a hard day of wine tastings, it’s easy to come back here and relax without having to travel anywhere else.
Don’t Miss Out On Visiting
Best Features: Everything! This restaurant was the highlight of my 3 days. The food was incredible, the wine was incredible, and the atmosphere was incredible.
Best Features: 400 acres of African Wildlife. If you can secure a spot on the roof of the jeep, it gives you the best view of the whole park. This is not a zoo, (thank gosh) it’s a preserve and they have a great breeding program going on with most of the animals.
Bliss Organic Day Spa
Best Features: My aesthetician Feather, yes Feather with and F, was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! And you get to take home a little freebie at the end of your treatment. Who doesn’t love free stuff!?
Best Features: You won’t be able to walk away without a treat from here. My favourite, was the mint choc-chip macaroon.
Note: A big thank you to Sonoma Tourism, for providing me with this tour! All opinions of my experience are written honestly, and as always, are entirely my own!