I was lucky enough to visit Napa and Sonoma Valley in 2017, just before the brutal wildfires ravaged the area. As the area continues to recover, here are some places to check out in California wine country on your next visit!
Scribe Winery (Sonoma Valley)
Overall, I would say that Scribe was my favorite winery that I have visited in the region. The Scribe vibe is cool and casual, skewing toward a younger crowd (at least on a Sunday), with views for days.
Pro tip: The Hacienda is awesome and you can get food there to go with your wine tasting, but if you are looking for super chill afternoon, grab a bottle, bring it over to The Knoll (pictured above), spread out a picnic blanket, and hang out overlooking the gorgeous vineyards and mountains.
Petroni Vineyards (Sonoma Valley)
Petroni was the first winery that we visited on our most recent trip, and what a way to kick things off. After a winding drive up the side of a mountain on a tiny one-car wide road, a massive gate opens up into an oasis with vines, olive trees, beautiful gardens, a bocce pit, and two unassuming cave entrances in the side of the mountain.
Our tasting guide (shouts to Patrick!) greeted us in the driveway with some chardonnay literally on a silver platter, before leading us inside to the expansive caves. Once inside, Patrick gave us a tour of the caves before guiding us through a tasting in our own nook of the caves. It was an outstanding experience and we got to taste some really great wines, including one of the only (if not THE only…I don’t remember) Brunello wines produced in the region. And the tasting is very affordable compared to others in the region (especially compared to Napa wineries).
St. Clair Brown Winery (Downtown Napa)
St. Clair Brown is a newer winery that is actually in downtown Napa, so if you are staying in town this is a good spot to finish the day with a tasting around dinner time. They make some good wines and good beer as well, either of which you can enjoy in the middle of their urban garden, which is entirely edible! As you imbibe, you can peruse the garden and pick anything you see and give it a taste. Unfortunately, I did not get any good pictures of this one (I was a few wine tastings in at this point if you catch my drift), but take my word for it – it was a cool spot!
Zuzu (Downtown Napa)
Zuzu and the neighboring bar La Taberna specialize in excellent Barcelona-style tapas and pintxos. We were naturally excited to try Zuzu due to our trip to Barcelona that was upcoming at the time, and it did not disappoint! Zuzu doesn’t take reservations, so put your name in and head next door for some pan con tomate while you wait.
Hog Island Oyster Co. (Downtown Napa)
As you may know by now, I am a sucker for my oysters. On our way to Zuzu we stopped in at Hog Island Oyster Co, which is in the Oxbow Public Market. The oysters selection was great, as was the beer and wine selection. We didn’t have time to check out the rest of the market but there were some good-looking restaurants in there as well, including Kitchen Door, which is one of the best-reviewed restaurants in the city.
Inglenook (Rutherford, Napa Valley)
In terms of opulent views and setting, Inglenook took the proverbial cake. The grounds are beautiful, with magnificent fountains and a huge courtyard area looking out over the mountains. The main building itself is also extravagant, with a grand tasting room where we went through some of the tastiest reds that we had tasted on the trip, plus some cheese and charcuterie (duh!). The tasting was $45 (which seems to be pretty average for the area), but the quality of the wines and the awesome setting provided plenty of bang for that buck.
Boon Fly Cafe (Napa)
If you thought we were going to get through a whole Steintinerary list without donuts, then you haven’t been paying attention. Boon Fly is renowned in the area for its warm, light and fluffy cinnamon fry cakes.
Their other food was great too, but it will be busy on weekends. If you’re in a rush, just grab a box or two of donuts to go, and get on with your wine tasting!
There are countless wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, and I am hoping to get back out there this year. Which ones should I check out next time? Let me know in the comments!
And as always, if you’d like some help planning your next adventure, be sure to hit me up on Fiverr!