Ah, Wine country! Even the name of it sounds dreamy and the real thing did not disappoint either. This Summer I went on a California road trip exploring the state and I knew that the trip would not be complete without a visit to Sonoma and Napa. For those of you unaware with where Wine Country actually is, it is located in the Northern Bay Area, where you will be spoiled for delicious food and breathtaking views. There are so many towns and cities within Wine Country including Santa Rosa, Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga to name a few. To get a feel of what Wine Country has to offer you should watch the famous movie Sideways, or just carry on reading this blog!
Following my visit to San Francisco I (well my boyfriend) drove down to Vallejo which is near to both Sonoma and Napa Valley, but you can stay there at the fraction of a price. I would have really loved to stay within Wine Country where the views were nicer (I stayed in an Air B’n’B overlooking Six Flags Discovery Kingdom), so if you are thinking of a visit and want to stay within Wine Country, do your research and book well in advance! I only booked my accommodation some 7-8 weeks before and although we found a reasonable priced room (we paid £77 for two nights for two people) there was not a lot going on in Vallejo! We planned our trip here for the weekend and luckily we had friendly hosts who offered to take us to Sonoma on the Saturday. Sonoma is quite big so we decided to get the most out of our visit by visiting Sonoma Square, home to multiple wine tasting rooms, bars, restaurants and a lovely park.
Our first stop of the day was at Walt Wines, which is pictured at the top of this blog post! As you can see, wine is served with glasses as big as your head! I was NEVER a fan of white wine prior to this trip, due to one bad experience with some cheap white wine. However Sonoma well and truly restored my belief in a cool, crisp chardonnay. Wine tastings are fabulous as you learn about where in the county the grapes are grown, the environments they grow best in as well as the undertones present in the wine. In all the excitement we got a wine tasting each and soon realized it may be best to share a few of the wine tastings going forward. Sharing a wine tasting means that rather than trying 4-6 different wines each (meaning you pay for 8-10 small glasses), you both share the 75-90ml of wine that is in the glass. Wine tasting can get expensive very quickly, so we decided to pack a picnic; this is a great way to save some dollar, but if you are visiting a wine cellar/winery enquire prior to your visit if picnics are allowed.
I really loved the variety of wineries available in Sonoma Square. Our next wine tasting was at Rancho Maria; you can tell it had a more informal atmosphere even by the name (the wine tasting was a more affordable $20 pp). We also came across an Indian restaurant called Delhi Belly; here in the UK this an unfortunate outcome of trying Indian food within India… safe to say we stayed clear! I would highly recommend the Girl on the Fig if you visit Sonoma; the staff were welcoming and it was nice to have a more familiar Pub experience! Other wine tastings I would recommend include Zine Hyde Wineries (approx $33pp), Pangloss Cellars ($25pp) and definitely get a pizza from Mary’s! Slices are also available on the square if you get peckish in between tastings. We enjoyed watching the baseball and trying our first American pizza before we got an Uber back to our Air B’n’B.
We only planned one day in Napa, which was a shame as Napa Valley is huge! We had to be selective of where we wanted to explore so the following day we drove to Downtown Napa, a quaint area where there is even a Wine Train! We had a stroll around Oxbow Public Market, here you can purchase local produce, gourmet food, trinkets and all your wine accessories needs! For lunch we ate at a nearby restaurant named Napa Valley Bistro; I had an incredible Caesar Salad and my boyfriend had a lamb burger that our host recommended… Should you visit Napa, add this to your list of must try food in California!
As we were short on time we decided to visit a couple of wineries with our first choice being the famous Domaine Chandon. We bought a bottle of sparkling white wine ($36) which we then sipped in the beautiful Californian sun, admiring the stunning grounds and vineyard.We next visited the stunning Robert Mondavi’s Winery and shared a flight of wine ($35). This weekend definitely made a change to what I am currently doing (sitting in my pyjama’s writing this blog in the UK!) It was moments like these that I really appreciated and thanked myself for taking the time to go traveling and living my best Californian life!
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