For years I’ve heard about Napa and the lesser known Sonoma wines in California. Being from Cape Town (a fellow wine region) it was always a dream to come to the wine country of the US. I was fortunate to get a job out in California on a yacht and could spend a weekend out there.
My first day was spent in Sonoma, its only a 45-minute drive out of San Francisco city. We stopped in Glen Ellen to start. We stopped in at Talisman wines where the very friendly staff recommended some places and a glass of wine to start. One of my highlights was La Rochelle Winery in Kenwood. They are a small family run business sourcing their grapes from the area. I just loved the hospitality here and the wine was pretty good. We went for lunch in the town, which was a little disappointing after just coming from La Rochelle. We felt like we were in the middle of no where there and were quickly brought back right amongst the tourists where they were serving fast food style Italian food. I would have preferred a more authentic experience. Afterwards we were going to stop at another winery we were told about, but they were closed for a private function. We stumbled across the place next door called En Garde. It had quite a lavish interior so at first I was hesitant, but once again the hospitality was inviting and we were entertained the rest of the afternoon with some really good wine.
Our first stop for the day was at Scribe Winery; still part of the Sonoma region, which had been recommended by a local in Sausalito. This was my highlight overall of the 2 days. Hospitality is clearly important to me, but the location and the food is equally as important. You get 4 tastings included in the price with a tapas style vegetarian lunch served fresh what’s from the garden. The waitrons were all really friendly and attentive and I cannot recommend it more. After, we went driving through Napa to a few “big name” wineries. I was not overly impressed, although all beautiful, I feel it is mass supported and the individual attention is not there. Some of the places we stopped at were Robert Mondavi and Opus One. We then drove up Silverado trail to Joseph Phelps, which just has some of the most incredible views nestled in a valley of forest. They couldn’t take us in for a tasting, but they so graciously offered us a free sample. Our last stop on our drive was Robert Sinskey, where they were just about closing but also offered a free sample (lucky us) We then took a slow drive back through Yountville, such a quaint town in Napa. If you are looking to stay in the wine country for the weekend I would highly suggest this town. It has a street lined with restaurants and bars and the infamous French Laundry restaurant that has reservations 3-4 months in advance so I am told. Best to book in advance if you are planning on going there.
Talking of restaurants, I’ll be posting about some of my top restaurant experiences in San Francisco soon. Keep an eye out on my Instagram for it.