I’m confident the game of eenie meenie miney moe was created by a Napa Valley virgin. One look at the map, and it’s easy to see what I’m talking about–Napa and Sonoma are each abundantly full of vineyards and tasting rooms, all claiming to have the best juice in the area. So how do you pick one over another without playing eenie meenie miney moe or becoming infinitely overwhelmed? It’s simple. First pick what’s important to you.
This last week I chose vineyards not only for their amazing wines but also their experiences. I’ve mentioned before that I am not a “tasting bar” girl, and thankfully that rules out quite a few for me right there. Life is all about experiences and this resonerates through wine country as well. If you are interested in wine AND the experience the vineyard provides, look no further than right here.
The one vineyard that my biased friend said we couldn’t miss, Fisher Vineyards, is an off-the-beaten-path winery in the hills of Santa Rosa. Thankfully we had a driver for the day who was able to navigate the winding roads of Spring Mountain, which allowed us to truly take in the beauty of Northern California. Upon arrival at Fisher, we were met by fellow Houstonian, Scotty, who told us of his transplant from Texas and entrenchmant into the culture there in the wine country. After exploring their caves system, we were taken to a rustic party area to sample a few of the beautiful wines that make up the Fisher library. Some of my favorites included the Cameron and of course, the Wedding Vineyard. Even better, after sampling the juice, Scotty told us of the gorgeous look out point, just a short hike up the mountain. He handed us a bottle of wine and told us not to come down until it was finished. We listened. Along the way, we got to love on Sake, the vineyard dog, and eat some of the fresh-off-the-vine grapes and cherry tomatoes.
What’s better than a French style chateau with wine, cheese and caviar? Maybe everything but the caviar. A random blog post on Facebook gave Swanson Vineyards a plug not to be missed. The hidden gem off Napa’s main drag is set in some of the valley’s most known growing areas. Right across from names like Opus, Mondavi, St. Suprey, etc., Swanson’s picturesque tasting room and sip shop are breath of fresh air. Upon arrival, we were greeted at the front door with a glass or pinot grigio and led into their salon. The salon was STUNNING. High vaulted ceilings, a table for 10 set with crystal clear wine glasses, cheese spreads, candles and and plumes of hydrangea with roses… I was immediately transported to a different world. Our hosts for the day were characters themselves, full of knowledge and grace. D at one point said, “I feel like we are in the Great Gatsby novel,” referring to the male donning the bowtie. It was mere seconds later that he indeed pulled out the classic to quote a passage. After about an hour and a half, we were left feeling fresh, buzzed and like we had just experienced a whole new world.
Have I mentioned I love being a member at Round Pond? Macaela at RP is our wine club liaison and I am fortunate enough to have contact with her through Facebook. Before our trip, I reached out to her to suggest some “different” experiences and the list she came back with is phenomenal. She’s responsible for our visit to Robert Sinskey last year (and again this year!). First on the list was to try the Offroading experience at Somerston. Set in the mountains past Lake Hennessy, the winding road eventually leads to a property with beyond scenic views. A tasting on their veranda would be enough to write about, but pair it with climbing into a 4-wheel, all terrain vehicle for a ride through the mountain vineyards, and you have an experience to remember. The steep inclines and wildlife, all with the breeze blowing through your hair is so refreshing. However, I would recommend it to the more adventurous types. While on the Somerston Property, make sure you convince your guide to take you to the natural Soda Spring on the premisis. The historical spring has supplied natural “flat Perrier” water to oenophiles and gold-miners alike for centuries. Along with an extra drive up the other side of the mountain, you get to see the glistening broken blue glass bottles on the spring sides, which were used many years ago by travelers to bottle the water. Overall, a trip to Somerston is sure to leave you raving about their wine, property and the beauty of the road that leads from the Valley to the peak. OH, and while their Proprietary Red is notable, make sure you try the Highflyer as well. You can’t miss this one!
Check back tomorrow for some not so great reviews. I’ll also do a little post on one of the parties we went to while in town.
Until then, Happy Travels!