Wine Country

Wine has a deep rooted history that has been around for nearly as long as man has walked the earth. To appreciate and savor it is to appreciate and savor the history and culture deeply rooted in the vines.  As wonderfully stated by Hugh Johnson, “The scope of the subject of wine is never ending, [as indeed,] so many other subjects lie within its boundaries. Without geography and topography it is incomprehensible; without history it is colorless; without taste it is meaningless; without travel it remains unreal. It embraces botany, chemistry, agriculture, carpentry, economics — any number of sciences whose names I do not even know. It leads you up paths of knowledge and by-ways of experience you would never glimpse without it. ”  Thanks to the California climate, terroir and impassioned wine makers and vineyard owners, there is plenty of wine to go around so if you’re considering a trip, take the next step and immerse yourself in the deep rooted history of wine!

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Planning your trip

When should you visit? The timing of your trip can really impact your experience and even though wine country is beautiful year round, you’ll want to consider the season.

With the exception of Valentine’s Day & Columbus Day weekend  January through March is slow. Locals and repeat visitors have hailed this as their favorite time to visit. Folks can linger at tasting rooms and immerse themselves in conversation with the winemakers and the history of each winery. Restaurants have open tables or there is little to no wait at their favorite spots, and both airfare and room rates are very low, which will result in a lengthier stay.

April through August things start to get busy to the point where most weekends are booked long in advance. Although rain can occur in April and May (and perhaps in June) the weather is wonderful, warm/hot and sunny, every day, with deliciously cool evenings (55-60 degrees).

Sept and October is by far the busiest time of year. This is “Crush season when all the grapes are harvested. Wineries are abuzz with activity, bringing in the grapes, making the wine, and getting the wine processed for storage into tanks or barrels. Though this may be the busiest time to visit, this is my favorite time of the year to go. The energy and ambiance is like no other and there is so much to see!

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Where to Stay

Determine where you’re going to stay and keep in mind that hotels and B&B’s often get bookings a year in advance! Once you’ve nailed down your lodging, begin to build an itinerary focused around the types of wine you like, places that have been recommended and so forth. The Napa Vintners is a great resource for all things winery and vineyard related, and the Portfolio is a great reference for all things Napa Valley , Sonoma  &  Wine Country which covers all wine regions in the United States!

One tip, call the vineyards & wineries to book your tour/tasting/visit in advance.  Some places allow walk-ins, while others don’t, so make the call ahead of time!

We stayed at the Silverado Resport & Spa. The location is ideal and the grounds are impeccably kept.  Onsite amenities such as outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, golf, yoga and market & bakery had me buzzing with excitement! This is also a family friendly resort with a plethora of options for adults & children.

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Getting to Napa & Sonoma From the Airport

San Fransicso & Oakland airport run fixed route shuttles to Napa.  Evans or California Wine Tours is the distinguished logo’d on the side the shuttle. For a schedule, go to www.evanstransportation.com or call (707) 255-1559. It’s best that you give the drivers advance notice of your plans so they can accommodate your needs or any “special requests”.

Shuttle options coming from Sacramento airport would funnel through the Napa Airporter. Unfortunately, this is not a fixed route schedule so you’ll need to call (707) 252-1900 in advance to reserve your reservation.

There is always the option of UBER & LYFT, renting a car or you can look into booking a luxury limousine.  Though the luxury limousine may seem like an expensive option but splitting the cost between 4-8 ppl decreases the amount exponentially. I’ll go ahead and say it, even if there are only two of you, this might be the time to splurge!  When you call to get rates always ask them about setting up a package that would include all your driving needs for your trip. It is encouraged to have a designated driver! Who knows, they might also have some connections that would get you perks not available to the general public!

Here is a more extensive guide of what you need to know about transportation to wine country and the expectation.

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 Things to do in the Valley

Taste Wine! There are 533 wineries (give or take) in the Valley region. Where does one start?  The Silverado trail! This beautiful road is lined with many family owned wineries, perhaps a little less well known, still just as interesting and enjoyable as those on Highway 29.  The views are simply breathtaking and  the vineyards stretch wide across expansive rolling hillsides with vines looking down on the valley. If you prefer to avoid crowded tasting rooms, bustling parking lots and tourist buses, then the Silverado Trail is the best way to experience real Napa Valley viticulture.  Do your homework and choose your Vineyards & Wineries wisely!

Enjoy live performances at the Napa Valley Opera House & the Uptown Theater in Napa or at the Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville .

Stroll these 10 art galleries and view the countless expressions of the valley portrayed through paintings, sculpture, glass, photography, jewelry, homegoods. Whatever you seek,  art abounds!

 Dine at Michelin star restaurants or casual coffee shops! Keep in mind that the traveling in the warmer months affords Al Fresco dining and February is “Restaurant Month”. These 20 restaurants are at the top of the list right. now.

Hit the trails by foot or bike through the Petrified Forest near Calistoga, Redwood giants or the hills for superb view of the Valley. Perhaps after a hike you can hit up one of these Picnic Wineries & enjoy some grub with the natural beauty that surrounds you and some fabulous wine!

Enjoy the breathtaking views ballooning over the valley! Maybe you’re not one for heights? That’s okay! You can enjoy the rhythm of the rails and take in the views  aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train .

Un{wine}d and relax by book a spa treatment for you and your loved one at one of these featured Spas .

Sign up for a culinary cooking class .

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Helpful Tips for First Timers

– Read through this tasting room Etiquette 

– Get a designated driver –

– Don’t forget your camera –

-Pace yourself and make a day of wine tasting – maybe use the spit buckets??-

-Visiting three wineries in one day is enough to you keep you busy and content with the slow and easy pace of wine country –

-Anticipate paying $10 and up for tasting fees. Two people can always elect to share one tasting! –

– The wineries will try to sell you memberships to their wine clubs – leave your credit card in the hotel room! –

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Need more inspiration or want more tips? Enjoy these photos captured throughout various Wine Regions in California, then head over to the Portfolio for all things Napa Valley ,  Sonoma Wine Country!  Cheers!

 

 

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