For Taylor’s 28th birthday we headed west to San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa. We arrived late in the evening on Tuesday, got our rental car and headed into town to find our hotel. Taylor had used hotwire to book our hotel and we stayed at the Sir Francis Drake. It was a pretty cool place and we had a cable car running right in front of the hotel. On Wednesday, we rented bikes and took off to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a fun ride over and made some stops along the way to take pictures. It was crazy foggy, so we didn’t get the best pictures. On the other side of the bridge we got lunch at a burger joint called Napa Burgers. They were pretty tasty, especially after the long bike ride! We had some time to kill before our boat arrived to take us back the wharf so we strolled through the stores and spent some time relaxing in the sun.
On Thursday, we got up and started to drive north to Sonoma. First we stopped at the Muir Woods and walked around a bit. It was still pretty foggy, but it felt good to enjoy the outdoors before we started drinking wine! After our pit stop the real adventure started and we headed to our first winery. It was amazing how quickly the clouds disappeared and the temperature rose outside of San Fran.
Here is the list of wineries we stopped at(in somewhat order), pictures and any brief thoughts we have!
Lunch: Jack London Pub, pretty reasonable bar food.
Matanzas Creek: It would have been beautiful to be here in early summer to see all the lavender gardens. This place was beautiful and had some pretty good wine.
Iron Horse: It was on top of a large hill, so it had very nice views. We couldn’t say the same about their wine. It was by far the worst we tasted on the trip. I would not re-visit this winery.
Dinner: Silverado Brewing Company, St. Helena
Where we stayed: Irish Rose Inn-Great location. Was a B & B with a reasonable price for the area. We were the youngest couple staying by a good 40 years. Yummy breakfast and excellent hospitality.
Friday: This was our big wine day!
Michel-Schlumberger: This winery was the highlight of our wine experience. We got their before the opened so relaxed in the sun. We started off with a tour with another couple which was very nice. We even got to try grapes off the vine! This was something I always had wanted to try. The wine here is phenomenal! I would have loved to become wine club members. We did bring back two bottles with us, but we can’t wait to go back. Excellent setting and excellent wine! We highly recommend a visit!
Bella: Tasting room is in their cave. Yummy wines, a re-visit for Mary and new visit for Taylor.
Lunch: picnic from the Dry Creek General Store. This place has yummy food, but pricey. I would recommend to take with to a winery.
Kokomo Winery: This is a Boilermaker owned winery that I learned about on my last visit so I wanted to take Taylor there. We enjoyed their wine and love supporting fellow Alumni.
Matanzas Creek:: This was a random winery stop for us that turned out to be a fun experience. Fairly new, lots of wines to choose from, and has a beautiful outdoor space. Walking around the property we found a creek outback that they set up a variety of seating areas.
Ridge: This was our last stop of the day. Nothing too spectacular.
Dinner: All Season’s, Calistoga, Ca
Where we stayed: Best Western, Calistoga-This was the hardest night to find someplace to stay. The hotel was clean and very close to town. Everything was super busy!
Alpha-Omega: Very expensive and their wine was just ok.
Louis M. Martini: We had pre-arranged a tour here the day before. Taylor has enjoyed their wine before and wanted to see more about it. We enjoyed many of the tastings and an overall good experience.
Mumm Napa: We shared a very generous tasting here. We enjoyed a stroll through the art gallery and it was a beautiful day to sit on their outdoor patio. It was very busy, but I love buying their product from our whole foods!
Frog’s Leap: This winery has a beautiful setting. We enjoyed our tasting while sitting in the middle of a garden. They had very nice wines and would enjoy going back.
Hess Collection: This was our last winery as we headed back to San Fran to catch our late plane. This winery is a bit off the beaten path. If you are a fan of modern art, then you should stop here. Lots of things on display, kind of like a museum.
What we learned on our trip:
-San Fransisco can be very cold in the summer…bring clothes for all seasons!
-Share tastings. With only the two of us on this trip, we had to watch how much we could drink so we could drive to our next stop. Or, we could have brought some friends with us!
-We enjoy Sonoma over Napa. Napa can be a bit pricey(tastings and meals out). Sonoma has a lot more smaller unheard of wineries that we enjoyed a lot better that the big name(box wine) places.
We can’t wait to go back!