Hello again! It’s been awhile since I have done one of these.
The past few weeks have been crazy, so this is the first opportunity I have had to write a blog post. We have been all over the country, out of the country and everything in between. Then, Hurricane Harvey happened and life got even more chaotic. Luckily, our house remained dry through it all, so I feel like I can finally exhale.
A few weekends ago (which now seems like forever ago), we were able to visit one of our favorite places – Wine Country. I had to be back in San Francisco for work, so we decided to go early and make a weekend of it. Wine not?!
We left late Thursday night so that we could have 3 full days. We usually do 2-day trips to wine country, but we wanted things to be more spread out and relaxed.
- 10 AM – 11:30 AM – Far Niente
- 12 PM – 1 PM – Lunch @ Gotts Roadside
- 1 PM – 2:15 PM – V. Sattui
- 2:45 PM – 4:00 PM – Domaine Carneros
- 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM – Checking In and Cocktail Hour at Bella Villa Messina (our B&B)
- 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM – Valette
We woke up Friday and headed straight to Far Niente. We were so excited for this tour because we had heard so much about their amazing Cabernet. Also, this was a 90-minute tour and tasting, so I was expecting it be incredible.
The tour was good, but I wasn’t blown away. All of our tour was inside, so I was bummed that we didn’t get to explore more of their property outside. They mentioned that they were trying to get ready for harvest, but it was a little odd that we didn’t get to see anything outside on the tour. However, Far Niente does have some really neat caves, so we spent over half the tour exploring that part of the winery. I couldn’t believe how much wine was stored down there! They also have a library room within the caves that houses some of their finest vintages. They also do select tastings in that room.
The last 30 minutes of the tour were spent tasting wine in a dining room setting. For the wine tasting, we tried 4 different wines: Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir and a desert wine called Dolce. The Pinot Noir and Dolce are part of Far Niente’s other labels. The wine tasting was also paired with a few different cheeses.
I enjoyed the Cabernet the most, so I wish the tasting would have been more focused on that. Something else to note is that the pours were extremely small. You barely have enough wine to get a good taste.
After the tour was over, we spent a few minutes wandering around the property outside since we didn’t get to see it on the tour. I am still puzzled as to why we didn’t get to see any of this on the tour – everything outside was beautiful! They have their own gardens, a pond, and a garage full of vintage cars.
Overall, I was a little disappointed with the Far Niente experience, and I don’t think it is worth the $75/person we spent on it.
For lunch, we went to Gott’s Roadside. This is our usual lunch stop when we are on the Napa side of wine country. They have great burgers and garlic fries. You need a good base when wine tasting all day!
After lunch, we headed across the street to V. Sattui Winery. This is where we had our wedding, so we always like to go back for a visit. We are also wine club members at V. Sattui.
V. Sattui is a great place to visit because it is in the heart of St. Helena and they offer a wide variety of wines. You can get everything from a light-bodied white wine to a big and bold Cabernet. We went downstairs to the club member tasting room and tried a few varietals – some new, some old.
They had a brand new Sonoma County Chardonnay that we tried – I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t bad. We also tried 3 different Cabernets side-by-side which was fun. I love being able to compare and contrast the flavors of different vintages. The Preston Cabernet always ends up being my favorite 🙂
After V. Sattui, we headed south to the Carneros region. We had never been to a winery in this region before, so we decided to give Domaine Carneros a try. When you first drive up, your jaw will drop. There are so many good picture spots in wine country, but this was one of the best.
The chateau is modeled after a French chateau, so it almost feels like you are in France when you come to visit. We sat outside and tasted a flight of sparkling wine. All of the wines were fantastic! Also, our waiter was French, so it made the experience seem more authentic.
After finishing our wine flights, we decided it was such a perfect day that we needed to get a full glass of sparkling wine to finish. It was such a relaxing afternoon, and I never wanted to leave. This is a must do when you go to wine country!
After wrapping up at Domaine Carneros, we headed north to Healdsburg. We always stay at Bella Villa Messina – it is a Bed and Breakfast in the heart of Healdsburg. We love it because of the location, the people and the hospitality. Since our dinner reservation wasn’t until 7:30, we went down to the cocktail hour and visited with other guests that were staying at the B&B. The owners also have 2 cute little dogs, so it’s fun to go the cocktail hour.
For dinner, we went to Valette in downtown Healdsburg. We had heard great things about it, so we finally decided to give it a try. At Valette, you can do a ‘Trust Me’ tasting menu where you get smaller portions of multiple dishes. Alex and I were totally set on doing this, and we ended up doing 6 courses each! It was a lot of food, but it was hands down the best meal of my life. The restaurant brought different dishes for us for each course, so we were able to try 12 different dishes in total. It was absolutely incredible, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
We didn’t end up leaving the restaurant till closer to 10:30 PM, but it was nice to take our time and enjoy an amazing dinner like this. We had never really done anything like that before, so if you are looking for something new and exciting, give this place a try!
- 10 AM – 1 PM – Jordan Estate Tour and Tasting
- 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM – Medlock Ames
- 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM – Cast
- 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM – Cocktail Hour at Bella Villa Messina
- 7:30 PM – Chalkboard
We woke up Saturday morning and had breakfast at Bella Villa Messina. It was delicious, as always. My favorite part about their breakfast is the bacon!
Our first reservation of the day was at Jordan. We had visited Jordan once before for their normal tour and tasting, but we wanted to go back and do the full estate tour this time. It is a 3-hour tour and tasting experience where you get to venture out all across the Jordan property. Since this was such a unique experience, I am going to dedicate a separate blog post to this. Stay tuned for more next Wednesday!
After we finished up at Jordan, we went to Medlock Ames since it was right down the street. Jerry, the B&B owner, recommended that we go here. I knew I was going to like this place the minute we walked in because it had a “farmhouse” feel to it. I was almost going to ask if Chip and Joanna designed the tasting room! It was so cute. I am upset I didn’t take more photos here!
This would be the perfect place for a picnic outside with a bottle of wine. It was gorgeous.
After we finished up at Medlock Ames, we had enough time to go to one more winery. We went over to Cast Wines. We had been here once before on a rainy day, so I wanted to go back when the weather was better. This winery has some incredible views.
Cast is located right off of Dry Creek Road, so it’s a great place to visit if you are going to several wineries in the Dry Creek area. We sat outside on their Adirondack chairs and tried their standard wine tasting. It was the perfect day to sit outside and take in the scenery. I was definitely in my happy place and we ended up staying until closing time.
For dinner, we went to Chalkboard in downtown Healdsburg. This was our first time at Chalkboard and we probably should have made a reservation, but we still ended up getting a spot at the bar. Chalkboard is a tapas style restaurant where you share dishes with the entire table.
We enjoyed most of the dishes we ordered. I especially loved the burrata and the corn. I will say that my expectations were really high after going to Valette the previous night. I wouldn’t really put Chalkboard in the same category as Valette since it was a bit more casual (that was my impression). Overall, I would definitely recommend Chalkboard for a dinner spot!
- 10 AM – 11 AM – Christopher Creek
- 11:45 AM – 2:30 PM – Beltane Ranch with Picnic Lunch
- 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Imagery
- 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM – Delhi Belly for Dinner
- 7:00 PM – Present Day – Trying to determine when I am going back to wine country 🙂
We woke up Sunday and had breakfast at the B&B before heading out to Christopher Creek. This was our second time at Christopher Creek, and we came back because we loved their Cabernet so much.
Unfortunately, they were all out of the Cabernet that we loved so much, but we were able to try several other delicious wines. We also ended up joining their wine club because they mentioned they do several events in the Houston-area for club members. I will definitely keep you posted on the wine club and what sort of events we get to attend!
After Christopher Creek, we headed south to Beltane Ranch. I had never heard of this place until one of my social media friends reached out to me about meeting up while we were in Sonoma. I have been following Adrienne for a while on Instagram, and I love that she is local to the Sonoma-area. Y’all should check out her blog – The Rich Life in Wine Country.
Anyways, I am so happy that Adrienne reached out to meet up! It was great to meet her and explore a new place. Beltane Ranch is not only a winery in Sonoma, but it is also a bed and breakfast. They have such a unique feel, and I love their history.
We did a picnic lunch outside and it was amazing. The weather was really nice and the food was amazing. They served lunch with some of their Sauvignon Blanc and Rose, and it was the perfect pairing. I loved how they set up the picnic table outside overlooking their vineyards – it was a stunning backdrop for lunch.
After lunch, we took some time to explore and walk around their property. Everything was adorable, and I felt right at home. I would love to have a farmhouse and a ranch someday (preferably in Sonoma, too!).
Overall, the experience at Beltane Ranch was amazing and so different. It was unlike anything we have ever done in the Sonoma-area.
After we left the ranch, we wanted to check out Russian River Brewing Company. When we got over there, we saw how crowded it was and we turned around. Instead of the brewery, we went to Imagery Winery.
Alex and I had been here before, but we decided to go back because it has a really relaxing atmosphere. We had a couple of glasses of wine instead of doing the tasting because we really wanted to stay put outside and just be. Apparently, we were so relaxed that we didn’t take a single picture – imagine that! So, even though I can’t show you what this place looks like, take my advice and go if you are in the Sonoma area. It’s also a great place to play games on the lawn and have a picnic.
After wrapping up at Imagery, we wanted to find a dinner spot in downtown Sonoma. We had never been to that area, so we decided to walk around and explore the area. We ended up getting dinner at an Indian restaurant down there and it was really good! We hadn’t had Indian food in so long, so it sounded good to the both of us.
After dinner, we headed straight into the city since Alex was taking the red-eye flight home.
It was such a great trip, and like always, I am trying to figure out when to go back. Wine Country is such a magical place, and I always feel “at home” when I am there. I thought it was fitting that this was the last thing we saw in Sonoma – a sign that said “Please Come Back Soon”.
Don’t you worry, we will be back soon.
If you want to read more about our other wine country trips, you can find those linked below:
- Sonoma – July 2017
- Sonoma – December 2016
- Sonoma – April 2016
- Napa – October 2016
- Napa Guide for Beginners