Napa + Sonoma: Trip Picks
On our recent trip to Northern California, we had a few days to spare in the middle of our trip before we had to be back in the heart of the city for a family wedding. We thought, what better way to use the time than to visit Wine Country! Both my husband and myself had never been, but of course, stories of amazing experiences from our friends and family over the years got us excited for a little wine fun!
In this post, I’ll be recounting exactly what our trip entailed; where we went, where we stayed, what we ate. My hope is that if you ever find yourself in the area and you have a day or two to spare, this can be a quick guide that can help you get the full experience, on a budget.
Before I head into the details, I must give a super special shoutout to my bestie Kendra and her fey-oncé Aaron – they gave me all these tips ahead of time and I’m sharing them with you because they were THAT good!
WHERE WE STAYED: This AirBnB in Sonoma, CA
Day 1 Itinerary - SONOMA
Winery 1: VJB Vineyard & Cellars ($15/pp) - a wonderful little place with truly some of the BEST wine. They have an amazing cheese and delicatessen shop within the winery so its the perfect place for lunch! They also have an absolutely beautiful outdoor area for sipping and dining.
Winery 2: Matanzas Creek ($15-$25/pp) - Lavender fields galore! We chose this place because we heard about their amazing lavender fields. Sadly they were not in full bloom when we went, but I can tell you you should totally check this place out if the next time they are in season. It would make the experience even better.
Winery 3: Pangloss Cellars ($20/pp) - a truly beautiful place in the heart of downtown Sonoma. They close early during the weeknights (around 5:30) so be sure to get in early!
Dinner: The Red Grape in downtown Sonoma. Its a great pizza joint with delicious appetizers! Try the Brussel Sprouts. Mmmmm!
Day 2 Itinerary - NAPA
Winery 1: Pride Mountain ($20/pp) - the "Pride" and joy of our trip! I can't get enough of this place and now I just dream of it. The views are great, the sommeliers and tour guides are unmatchable and the wine really was my absolute favorite. This place CANNOT be missed and the experience CANNOT be beat.
Winery 2: Lava Vine ($20/pp) - a cute little hole in the wall. We went because we heard they had somewhat of a petting zoo there, but they had just come under new management and were in the midst of quite the construction project so, no more animals :(. However, this place didn't disappoint - their dessert wine and port were outstanding and they have a stage all setup with multiple crazy instruments for impromptu jam sessions if you feel like having one. And we DID feel like having one :) - see below for a peek at our fun time...
Winery 3: Castillo di Amorosa ($25/pp) - a castle amongst the vines. This place is so so so so so so stunning. You really can't NOT go. Pay to take the full tour instead of just the tasting, its oh so worth it. You can an open door ticket to walk through the whole place and choose your adventure. The tasting room is in the dungeon of a basement, but it feels like you're in 1700 Spain! So cool.
Dinner: We headed to the Sonoma Market (AN AMAZING SPOT!) and picked up some yummy steaks, salmon and local cheese for the ultimate fine dining experience by the family of yours truly!
- Ask to "revisit" something if you liked the taste of a particular wine in your flight - they'll usually give you a few more ounces!
- If you buy a few bottles at most placed they'll comp one or two of your tasting fees.
- Consider visiting the local farmer's market (if in season) or head to the Sonoma Market which has AMAZING local fares and grub if you're interested in making a home-cooked meal.
- Definitely do some shopping in downtown Sonoma - its a lively and fun town with lots to see and do. It definitely has that "small town" vibe over the hustle and bustle of busy Napa.
- Share, share, share! If you're planning to head to more than one winery per day and you're not made of money (aka you aren't getting chauffeured around) chances are you won't be able to drink the full flight of 4-5 wines at each joint and still drive safely around from place to place.
- Most places will let you share a tasting with another person, meaning you don't HAVE to purchase a tasting for each and every person in your party if you know all you want is the experience of each place without the lost memories...aka, too much wine.
- On the other hand, if you have a sober ride (like I did) and you can pace yourself pretty well, then by all means get the big kahuna at each joint! The more wine, the merrier is always my motto :)
- Lastly, some places will NOT allow you to share the cost of admittance - in many cases you may be paying for a tour of the facility and not necessarily the wine. Many vineyards have a cost option for tour+wine or just the tour fee so you can still stay with your party when the tour takes place.
I hope you find these tips helpful and enjoyed reading! Leave a comment below and introduce yourself if this is your first visit to my blog – I love meeting new people and sharing experiences with others!
*All amazing photos are compliments of my wonderful sister Danielle Schoenecker