Hi there, wine lovers!
Tomorrow I’ll be off to Northern California, wending my way through Napa and Sonoma with my dear friend and fellow blogger, Jennifer Miner of The Vacation Gals, in honor of The Wine Institute‘s celebration of California Wine Month.
(And yes, I’m with you: every month might as well be California Wine Month. However, September is extra special because it’s harvest time.)
Jen’s and my itinerary seems nothing short of spectacular, designed to highlight Napa and Sonoma as ideal destinations for romantic and girlfriend getaways. I’m excited to share our adventures on Instagram (@travelswithtwo) and Twitter (@wynnewin) as we travel through these wine valleys for the next few days.
And starting next week, I’ll share posts about the trip here on Travels With Two!
DAY ONE – SONOMA COUNTY: Petaluma, Kenwood & Sonoma
Jen and I will get in to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in the mid-morning, pick up our rental car, and proceed about 45 minutes north to the town of Petaluma for lunch at Della Fattoria Cafe. Set in the former U.S. Bakery Building, this bakery/cafe maintains its own produce farm in Petaluma, neatly illustrating that della fattoria means “of the farm.”
Afterwards, it’s on to a Reserve Tasting at Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood. Words like “historic chateau” and “alfresco patio overlooking the vineyard” have been used.
Our lodgings for the night will be the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn in the town of Sonoma, home to the Willow Stream Spa, a championship golf course, and the Michelin-award-winning Santé. It’s the one night of the trip when we’ll be sharing a room, and I anticipate mud masks, gossip and snort-laughing.
In the evening, we’ll stroll around Sonoma Square, home to restaurants, boutique shops, wine tasting rooms, art galleries and more. We’ll be having dinner at The Girl & the Fig, which features an antique bar with French aperitifs, a Rhone-based wine list and a seasonal menu.
DAY TWO – SONOMA COUNTY: Healdsburg & Santa Rosa
In the morning, we’ll head an hour north to the town of Healdsburg.
At Lambert Bridge Winery we’ll have a harvest tour, wine and food pairing, followed by a picnic lunch in the adjacent garden. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in its Barrel Room, Lambert Bridge presents seated pairings of its wines with cheese and small bites, hosted by an in-house wine expert.
In the afternoon, we’ll meet up with Bob Johnson of Bob Johnson Art Gallery to explore Healdsburg and their Art Walk, an open-house event held on the first Friday of every month (5-8 p.m. from May to December) by 13 of the galleries that ring the town’s main plaza.
Our home for the night will be Safari West in Santa Rosa, an African safari camp that just happens to be in the Sonoma Valley. They offer a wide variety of wine seminars, pairings and animal tours; Jen and I will be doing a safari tour intriguingly named “Winos and Rhinos,” followed by a dinner paired with California wines.
A direct quote from my itinerary: “Guests may explore the Sonoma Serengeti on an African wildlife safari alongside romping herds of exotic wildlife or relax in a luxury safari tent under the gaze of a graceful giraffe.”
A direct quote from me: <squee>
DAY THREE- NAPA VALLEY: St. Helena, Rutherford & Calistoga
In the morning, we’ll drive an hour from Healdsburg to the Napa Valley town of St. Helena.
We’ll start our wine tasting early with a cheese-and-wine experience plus tour at the famous Robert Mondavi Winery. Open since 1966, Mondavi is renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Fumé Blanc wines, and for its environmentally friendly, sustainable farming practices.
It’ll then be on to lunch at V. Sattui Winery, where we’ll pick up a meal at their on-site Deli & Marketplace, get ourselves situated at a picnic table, and follow up our repast with a Premium Tasting of six of the winery’s vintages.
We’re also booked for an afternoon tasting at the rustic-chic Rutherford Hill Winery in Rutherford, one of the pioneers of California Merlot. (Thank goodness we’ll be able to get some more wine in — I’d been worried there might be a lull.)
Afterwards, we’ll head a few minutes away to Calistoga and our lodgings for the night, the historic-yet-renovated Mount View Hotel & Spa. We’ll just have time to settle in and see the property when we’ll be whisked off for grape seed spa treatments. I’m as yet unclear what these are, but believe you me, I will do some sleuthing and get you the answers you deserve.
Dinner will be at Calistoga Inn Restaurant, one of the most popular outdoor dining venues in the Napa Valley. Its garden patio stretches along the Napa River and it has its own micro-brewery and beer garden…just in case we could use a break from all that wine. (Listen, it could happen. You don’t know.)
DAY FOUR – NAPA VALLEY & HOME
We’ll be starting our last day of the trip with a jeep tour, wine tasting and harvest experience at Jericho Canyon Vineyard, a small family-owned and operated winery at the northern end of Calistoga which produces hillside Napa Cabernet.
Then we’ll have a leisurely drive back to SFO, return our car, and amble over to the Virgin America gate for our afternoon flight home. And, um…I think it’s safe to say that we won’t be drinking on the plane.
Can’t wait to learn more about wine, vineyards, food, art and animals, and to catch up with my local friend, who I barely saw this summer. Our last outing was to a wine bar, though…so this will be just like picking up where we left off.