A Little Wine Tasting in Napa and Sonoma

Wine tasting weekend in Napa and Sonoma

Living within two hours of the Sonoma and Napa Wine Country makes it easy for us to plan wine tasting excursions to the area on short notice. Since we know that we have many opportunities to visit, we can be very flexible in our selection of wineries as we drive through this beautiful part of Northern California.

Sterling Vineyards

Wine Tasting Serendipity

Sterling Vineyards, Sonoma County California

Sterling Vineyards, Sonoma County California

We just see what grabs our interest at a given moment. Whether or not we stop may have to do with the way the sun is shining on a particular vineyard, an impulse to try a new place, a nostalgic desire to revisit a favorite spot, or maybe just noticing that a nearby winery doesn’t look too busy.

Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga is a very popular winery for tourists and because of that we’ve never stopped there. However, on our last trip to the Napa Valley, we decided to give it a try and it was time well-spent! Sterling has done an excellent job of providing a welcoming environment and great customer service. Just be sure that you’re not in a hurry. The tram ride up to the winery and tasting room is fun and affords beautiful views, but there can be a wait on both ends. Also, the self-guided tour covers a fairly large area and samplings of 5 wines are available as you walk through the facility. They produce a very good Carneros Pinot Noir that was my favorite of the pours. Take your time and enjoy the final wine of the tasting outside on the terrace.

Also near the town of Calistoga is the original Cuvaison Winery (the newer one is in Napa), where the mood is very upbeat with lots of casual banter between staff and tasters. The pourers are quite knowledgeable, eager to please and ultimately eager to sell, of course. Our purchase there was the Mount Veeder Brandlin Vineyard Zinfandel – old vines produce great Zinfandel.

St. Clement Winery

St. Clement Winery

Located in St. Helena, St. Clement’s tasting rooms are in an old Victorian home on a hill with a wraparound porch and large patio/terrace. The highlight of our tasting was the Cabernet Sauvignon, but we also purchased a bottle of their Abbott’s Vineyard Chardonnay.

Band at St. Clement Winery

Band at St. Clement Winery

We weren’t expecting entertainment, but caught the Allman Stepbrothers Band who were performing on the terrace. We were enjoying the experience so much that we were reluctant to leave.

The next day on our way home, our route went through the southern end of Sonoma County and Viansa Winery was a perfect place to stop for lunch.

Viansa Winery, Sonoma County California

We’ve been there several times and always enjoy the Italian marketplace for gourmet food items and interesting gifts, as well as some great wine tasting. We grabbed sandwiches and a bottle of Chardonnay to take out on the terrace. Our timing was also very good since their Cal Italia Festival was taking place on the grounds. Entertainment included the Tracy Rose Trio and a pretty amazing magician who worked his magic right at our picnic table.

Magician at Viansa Winery in Sonoma County California

Magician at Viansa Winery in Sonoma County California

Another memorable visit to the wine country ends as planning for the next one begins!

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14 thoughts on “A Little Wine Tasting in Napa and Sonoma

  1. Andrea

    I lived in San Francisco for about two and a half years and this was one of my favourite getaways. I sure do miss Northern California. Luckily we have amazing wine here in Australia, but the landscapes in Napa and Sonoma are so unique and breathtaking. Calistoga is fun for mud baths too!

    1. Cathy Post author

      It is really is beautiful country. I’ve never been to Australia, but would love to visit wine country there. The Calistoga mud baths are still on my to-do list.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Christy, thanks for your comment. We took the Napa Valley Wine Train many years ago and loved it. I’d like to do it again and have heard from friends that it’s still a great time.

  2. No Vacation Required

    I think I would prefer “A LOT of Wine Tasting in Napa/Sonoma.” =)

    I am always impressed with just how gorgeous this part of the country looks. Being from the west coast, it is easy to forget that some of the most beautiful parts of the world are just in our backyard!

    1. Cathy Post author

      I was probably a little conservative in my choice of words for the title! Yes, the west coast has no shortage of beautiful places to visit and we are fortunate to have many very close to home.

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