After many years of dreaming about it, I recently traveled to California for my first time ever. My partner and I rented a car in San Francisco and drove to Napa valley for a day of wine tastings. We used City Rent a Car, but we also recommend Enterprise.
We purchased the priority wine pass, however it wasn’t that useful for us. As we were only able to use it at one of the vineyards. Unlike others, I didn’t have much difficulty in selecting which vineyards to visit because my dad either suggested these vineyards, or I had previously tasted them at his place. Not only are there countless vineyards in Napa Valley, but there are many in Sonoma and Livermore. This detailed map demonstrates the myriad of vineyards that one could try while in wine country.
We started our morning out at Castello di Amorosa. When we purchased a wine tasting for $30, we were allowed to explore the medieval castle and it’s tower. All of the castle’s stones are imported from Europe, and there are rooms with intricate wall paintings. It all appeared historically significant. While exploring the castle, I felt as though I were back in Italy’s countryside. The tasting is done in their basement. My favorite wine was the Pinot Grigio, however the Pinot Noir was also good.
Next, we went their ‘sister vineyard,’ V. Sattui. As I have previously enjoyed their Syrah, I was excited to taste their other wines. While it didn’t have the same grandeur as Castello, their architecture was still Italian and their wine didn’t disappoint! At the end of V. Sattui’s wine tasting, the Syrah stilled remained my favorite. I was surprised that this was the busiest vineyard we visited. This was the only vineyard we were permitted to use the Wine Priority Pass.
Our third and final vineyard was Etude. Etude is known for their Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Since some of my family are members here, I have tasted their wines over previous holidays, specifically a range of their Pinot Noirs.
We were even granted a free wine tasting when I shared that my family belonged to their members program. The atmosphere at Etude felt the most contemporary and relaxed of the three vineyards . We did our tasting outside on their patio, and weren’t rushed.
As others often do, we went to the well-known Oxbow Market for lunch and coffee.
Oxbow is large and promises a variety of foods and wine, if you didn’t drink enough already. While it was very crowded inside, we enjoyed our food outside on the riverside deck.