Ah, wine country. As I grow older in my twenties (which isn’t really old at all) I am gaining an appreciation for wine, red and white. I am no wine connoisseur, and even after my mini vacation in Napa, I’m still not. Regardless, it was nice to see the sights of all of the wineries and small towns.
Jasmin and I left San Francisco via ferry to Vallejo, where we would pick up the rental car I’ve arranged and made way to our Airbnb only a few minutes away. Because we were so incredibly tired from the four, jam-packed days in the big city, we ended up napping for four hours before deciding we needed to get up and do something. We decided to drive downtown to look at their outdoor shopping mall and grab dinner. Little did we know, there was a toll road to get back to Vallejo (this is where doing some research comes handy). We went back to the Airbnb to watch movies in bed and just relax before our adventures the next day.
Day 1: Calistoga
Castello di Amorosa is a 13th century-styled castle and winery built in the modern day. This location sits on a hill in Calistoga and has the most beautiful “rooftop” view. Jasmin chose this location because, well, it’s a castle. We did the wine and cheese pairing which gives you a barrel tasting, about seven wines, and six cheeses. On top of that, you get a tour of the castle and the wine caves underneath! This medieval castle was absolutely stunning, with all of the stones it was built with being authentic from that time and shipped over from Italy. This winery did give a more Italian feel than the others we visited.
Another highly acclaimed winery we visited was the Robert Mondavi Winery. We didn’t plan to do another wine tasting since the wine at Castello di Amorosa was already making our limbs tingly, but we had to at least look at the sights at yet another Italian-style winery.
Day 2: Sonoma
We wanted to indulge in more wine tastings, but we didn’t want our pockets to suffer, so we went to Cline Cellars, a family-owned winery in Sonoma. Cline Cellars offer a free wine tasting of five wines, red or white. We decided to try ten wines between the two of us (work smarter, not harder!). They actually let us try all of the wines since we ended up losing count. A lot of the more popular reds that we tried had hints of chocolate, coffee and black pepper, which was certainly different than the reds I’m used to. The people were so friendly there, and the grounds were beautiful, too. This winery gave a more country feel compared to the two we visited yesterday.
The smaller, family-owned winery was certainly different from what we previously experienced in Calistoga, and the small-town charm did not end there. We made our way to Downtown Sonoma, which was a quaint little town filled with little shops and boutiques and people that smile at you as they pass by. You definitely will not find that in the big city. We stumbled upon this cute ice cream shop, Sweet Scoops Ice Cream, that sell an assortment of homemade ice cream, waffle cones and even doggy treats. Just walking by you can smell the pungent aroma of those waffle cones being made. I had the Butter Brickle with a waffle cone and it was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.
After having the free chocolate tasting and delightful ice cream snack in Downtown Sonoma, we went to Cornerstone Sonoma, famous for their nine gardens that showcased designs from local and international architects and designers. My favorite by far was the Wishing Garden. I don’t think I have ever felt so moved by a piece of art until I visited the Wishing Room.
Cornerstone Sonoma was probably the perfect ending to our NorCal trip, and I couldn’t have imagined spending it with anyone other than my best friend. We took a ferry the next morning to SFO, but I already know I’ll be back one day soon.