My husband, Jeff, and I recently experienced the best wine tasting in Sonoma and Napa Valleys, and many of you followed our journey on social media as it unfolded. I’m happy to report that it was everything we had hope it would be and more!
Our journey began in the Carneros Region, and since our flight was delayed several hours due to the bad storms in Nashville, it was the perfect plan! Carneros is the closes wine region to the Oakland Airport, so we arrived just in time to check-in to our cottage and be on time for our dinner reservation at their Farm restaurant. The food and service were fabulous!
We noticed a ton of multi-generational families, a few dogs (there are signs of dog-friendly place all over, including water dishes here and there, and they sell dog treats in the market at the resort. They also have cottages connected by a courtyard and multi-bedroom villas, perfect for groups of friends or families traveling together.
From here, we made our way up the Sonoma Valley, but first, a stop at the gorgeous RamsGate winery for their famous food and wine pairing. Their grounds have beautiful views, and there are many different vignettes to do your wine tastings where you can be distanced from other guests.
If you want a really laidback vibe, Croix is where it’s at. In the Russian River Valley, this small winery has a kick-back, go-with-the-flow kind of feel, and their wines are equally as enjoyable. We ended up staying 2-1/2 hours instead of the 1 hour planned tasting because the conversation with our host and other guests was so fun!
We stayed at Farmhouse Inn while on the Sonoma Side, and it lives up to its stellar reputation! A family-owned and run property, they treat their staff and guest like family. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, and have maintained their one Michelin Star for 14 years in a row.
The hotel is considered one of the best in the world and has received a number of accolades, including being named the Best Hotel in California by Conde Nast Traveler in 2016.
The Barn Junior Suite has plenty of room to spread out, and an expansive deck where you can enjoy the fireplace, and view of the chicken coop. I have to say my favorite chicken names were Attila the Hen and Hen Solo.
Our suite at the Auberge du Soliel on the Napa side was breathtaking! Not only did we have a HUGE living room area, but the bedroom suite was luxurious and outdoor living area had the most incredible valley views!
Auberge’s motto is “Inspired by the south of France. Infused with California soul.” That couldn’t be more spot-on! Everything on property exudes the feeling of being in Provence, from the first pour of rosé to the sculpture gardens, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported across the pond. Their culinary offerings at the one Michelin Star restaurant spoil your palette, and the service will leave you wanting for nothing. Every single thing is taken care of for you.
There are morning yoga classes and a world-class spa to spoil you rotten, and if you’re feeling really energetic, you can work that energy off at the tennis court or take a hike on the sculpture garden trail. There are a number of vignettes where you can have a romantic picnic – you can spend an entire day on property and never feel like you’ve missed something.
One of the most memorable experiences was our food and farm tour, where we noshed on the amazing charcuterie board (complete with smoked Liberty Duck) and loved on the baby goats. It was kidding season, so there were baby goats and lambs EVERYWHERE. Later, we headed to Pt. Reyes and enjoyed 3 different types of fresh oysters and Water Buffalo gelato at the Marshall Store. That gelato was the creamiest we’ve ever tasted, and we had gelato every day we were in Rome, so that’s saying something!
In both valleys, hot air ballooning is very popular. Taking place in the early morning hours when the air is calmest, it can be the perfect way to break up a day of wine tastings. It is also the best way to catch a sunrise!
If you are afraid of heights, a hot air balloon ride can seem daunting, but what we noticed is that you don’t even realize you are ascending – it’s like you’re floating slowly and suddenly you’re airborne!
We have always wanted to go cycling in the vineyards, and we finally did just that. Our cycling outfitter secured e-bikes for us, and as an avid cyclist I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that until the first tasting at lunch. We were very thankful for the added “assist” during the climbs on the way back. It really was the best way to equalize all abilities and states of mind while in wine country!
Thoughtfully-planned cycling tours are one of the best ways to experience wine country. Following an experienced trip leader through the most scenic cycle routes and lesser known country roads can really enhance your trip. A stress-free ride on a custom-built bike or e-bike levels the playing field for riders of all abilities.
We enjoyed several wineries we’d never seen before, like Dakota Shy (I love their motto: Liquid silk-ninja tannins), Cardinale (where they served us the most exquisite charcuterie plate to go with their silky cabs), and one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had: spending a half-day with the associate winemaker at TOR, where we had an exclusive tour of some of the most famous vineyards on the planet and a private lunch with tasting their current Black Magic vintage with lunch Charter Oak.
It’s never been a better time to return to California’s Wine Country. Explore the region with an immersive experiential 4-night adventure in the “Ultimate Napa/Sonoma Experience” with Farmhouse Inn on the Sonoma side and Auberge du Soleil on the Napa Side. When two multiple award-winning resorts, both having deep ties to their communities and Michelin starred dining, partner to open doors to the best of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, you’ll enjoy an exclusive value-rich offer. Includes a curated itinerary featuring the best hand-selected experiences that seamlessly join both valleys, making your planning effortless.
We design a completely customized itinerary based on your wine tasting and activity preferences, working with both small groups and individual couples. We take care of the entire package, including flights, ground transportation, pre-and post-nights, excursions, and dining reservations, with plenty of exclusive tasting experiences you won’t see anywhere else to ensure your experience in wine country is unique and memorable! Contact us HERE to start planning your OWN wine country trip!
If you want more insider tips, you can download our FREE Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Visiting Napa Valley for Wine Aficionados here:
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