“Someone said drink the water, but I will drink the wine
Someone said take a poor man, the rich don’t have a dime
Go fool yourself, if you will, I just haven’t got the time
I’ll give you back your water, and I will take the wine.” – by Frank Sinatra
There are two types of people in the world: beer drinkers and wine drinkers. While my husband is the first one, I definitely belong to the second one. If you live in the USA, you know that there are so many nice breweries across the country. No matter in what state you live, it’s so easy to find a place to try the best local ales. But if your choice is wine, Napa Valley in California is a must place to visit.
For many years I wanted to go there to try the best wines in the country and also learn about what I consume. When we decided to visit Napa, we had just one weekend, and we stayed in San Francisco, so I took it really seriously: I read different articles and stories of those, who visited, I planned everything – timing, food options, route and even the best places to see the sunsets. However, I realized, that no matter how well prepared you are, there is always something else you did not know – I was glad we made a stop in Napa Valley Welcome Center. The man who worked there was very helpful and informative. So now I come to conclusion: if you don’t have time to plan – no worries, all you have to know is what kind of wine you like and what do you expect from your visit.
The first rule while visiting Napa is: quality over quantity. It is recommended to visit up to four wineries per day. Unfortunately, my trip was short and I did not have a chance to visit every winery I wanted, but even though the experience I got was extraordinary. So let me tell you about the wineries I liked the most:
Robert Mondavi winery
No matter what type of wine you prefer – you will most likely find it here. It is my absolute number one in Napa Valley. We took a ninety minute tour and were impressed with how informative, educational and interesting it was. It is a must visit. I admire the owner Robert Mondavi, who established his winery in 1966 and had a strong belief that California wines could compete with European. He had an idea and worked really hard to create the standard for New World Wines.
The winery itself is big and offers different tours. We went for a signature ninety minute tour and tasting: we not walked through the vineyards and cellars, we also learned about different grapes and how wine is made. So even if you already know all that (I must admit that most of the information was new for me, guys), you may be curious about identifying wine by its cork, what food to pair with different wines, how to understand whether you like it or not etc. Want to know the best part? It smells like wine everywhere, at the end of your guided tour you taste 3 different wines and get 10% off your next purchase. It’s like Disneyland for wine lovers! Seriously!;)
Péju province and St.Supery vineyards
All you need to know is that they are family-owned wineries and are recommended to visit. And it is so much fun to see and taste the difference between big and small vineyards. I personally prefer the Péju one because of its beautiful garden with a collection of sculptures and also art gallery. The wines are very different from what we tried in bigger wineries. We didn’t take a tour, but got informed about the methods they use and some secrets behind their products. This vineyard is small, but very charming and has its unique story. Interested? Come to visit;)
Aren’t you hungry after a ninety minute tour and couple more wine tastings? Well, I am. But nobody wants to stop the experience, right? That is why I present to you V.Sattui vineyard that not only offers tours and wine tastings, but also sells food for picnics in their beautiful patio. It is convenient, since you don’t have to spend time coming back to Downtown. The wines are definitely must try: just when you think that you tried the best – no way, you’ve just started!;) The only thing that I was not impressed with was food there: only few options were available, looked OK but tasted really bland (my husband feels the same about it). That is why when we go to Napa next time, I will choose one of the restaurants next to Napa Welcome Center for lunch. Overall, I am an extremely picky person, so give it a try!;)
I say: “Let’s go for sparkling!!”This is one of the most beautiful wineries I have ever been to. It is known for award-winning, Carneros sparkling wines. The chateau at Domaine Carneros is considered one of the most beautiful wineries in North America; it was designed after the Chateau de la Marquetterie in Epernay, France.
From the first time I saw it – I knew I wanted to visit! I recommend you to make a reservation, because the place is very crowded, especially if you would like to enjoy the wines with the best view during sunset.
So these are the wineries I liked the most and the experience I’ll never forget. Vineyards also offer you to join the wine club and receive the best bottles of your favorite drink during the year. Our adventure came to an end and it was time to come home to Austin. We were excited, learned a lot, drank a lot (well, can you blame us;)) and also brought many bottles of joy for the holidays. So I say: “Visit Napa, explore it, enjoy it and don’t judge wine by first sip!”
Now I would like you to take a moment to share your favorite winery in or out of Napa Valley. 😉