When we were in the planning stages of our stay in San Francisco, we had this crazy idea to rent a car and drive up to beautiful Wine Country for the weekend. Flash forward months later, this dream was made a reality.
An hour and a half drive north of San Francisco, Wine Country is home to more than 400 wineries. Composed of the Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties, this region is quite the weekend getaway for wine aficionados and the like. And by that I mean novices like myself and Diana. I developed the affinity for wine during my semester abroad in France, but I am by no means an expert. I can only describe wine as dry or smooth, and can you actually impress people with such a limited vocabulary? The answer is no.
Castello di Amorosa – Calistoga
We began our weekend in Wine Country with a visit was to Castello di Amorosa (that’s Castle of Love in Italian.) Located off of the CA-29 highway, between the towns of St. Helena and Calistoga, this winery/castle is in the northern part of Napa County. This 13th century Tuscan-style castle and winery is quite the beauty, but its backstory is much more impressive. It was actually completed in 2007!
I won’t spoil the magic for anyone who wants to visit the castle themselves, but it definitely served some medieval realness and had me aching for my impeding return to Europe. You need to check this place out for yourself. And I definitely recommend the Wine and Cheese Pairing tour! I talk more about that experience here.
Robert Mondavi Winery – Napa
After the buzz of our wine tasting at the Castello wore off, we headed over to another highly recommended spot in the Napa Valley – Robert Mondavi Winery.
We didn’t try any of the wines here, unfortunately. From what I could tell after walking the grounds, it’s an extremely reputable winery and a tasting reservation should be made. After Mondavi, we hopped in the car and made the drive back to Vallejo. Along the way, we stopped in Yountville and downtown Napa for a late lunch.
Cline Cellars – Sonoma
The following day we decided to visit Napa Valley’s more modest twin sister, Sonoma. We began our day at Cline Family Cellars, where we each had a free tasting of five wines. Diana and I have a preference for white wines, so we stuck to their Chardonnays, Roussannes, and Viogniers. Fortunately we got in our tasting before a huge tour of older adults filled up the room. We saw this as our opportunity to walk the grounds and meet their two donkeys.
As a self-proclaimed city girl, I actually really enjoyed the small town charm of Sonoma. The people are so friendly and the town itself is so alluring. We drove over to their downtown, and I fell in love with the tiny town. Did you know that Sonoma is the birthplace of the California state flag?!
Sweet Scoops Ice Cream – Downtown Sonoma
While exploring the tiny town center, we came across this sweet little ice cream shop called Sweet Scoops. When you first walk in, you can smell the freshly made waffle cones.
This shop is an Instagrammer’s dream, and the ice cream is pretty good as well. Who am I kidding? The ice cream is amazing! It’s all homemade, and there are vegan options as well. They use coconut milk base for those. I went for mint oreo – mint and cookies n’ cream make the best combo.
Cornerstone – Sonoma
Our last stop was Cornerstone Sonoma – a blogger favorite for its gardens. We were amazed at the nine different gardens which were designed by international and local architects. I think our favorite was the Wishing Garden, where each visitor can write a wish on a single piece of tape.
And with that, our Wine Country weekend came to an end. We left early the next day to catch a ferry back to San Francisco, then headed over to the airport to catch our flights back to San Diego and Las Vegas.
I’m extremely fortunate to have spent time exploring Northern California with my best friend, getting lost in the City and getting buzzed in Wine Country. Thanks for having us, NorCal!