Thursday, March 15, 2018

Wine Country- Part II

Popping back in here to chat about our wine country (part II) travels.  A couple people mentioned they wanted itinerary suggestions and I love blogging/journaling about our travels, so I decided to do a post!

We made it!  One good thing about flying across the country is the time difference...you leave early and you get there so early!

First thing on the agenda...food!  Derek and I have never had In-N-Out Burger so we knew we wanted to give it a try.  We stood in line forever even though it was 2:00pm.  The burger was amazing.  The fries were pretty crappy but I wished I would have gotten 2 of the burgers. Delish!



We drove straight to a winery to try and maximize time on our trip.  We were staying in Sonoma County the first night so the first stop was a winery called Repris.


We heard outstanding reviews of the tours here.  It was a very windy day so the ATV tour lasted only 15 minutes.  One of the things we love about going to Wine Country in Feb/March is we are usually the only ones on the tours.  Talk about personalized service!

The fun thing about this tour was all the tastings were blind.  We were given a glass of wine and then asked what we tasted and our thoughts on the varietal.  This is Derek and my most favorite thing to do!



A wine that shocked me here was tasting an amazing Malbec.  We took that one home with us :)  Overall, the wines are pretty expensive here along with the tasting fee (which is not waived with a wine purchase).  Because of this, I'm not sure if it would warrant a stop here unless you were specifically after their wines.  The service is excellent though and the views were gorgeous.




That evening we went to dinner at Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar.  I high highly suggest this place!  First of all, the town of Healdsburg is adorable and second of all, we love the concept.  All the seafood you could want in one place.  And the oysters, oh my GOODNESS, the oysters.  Best oysters I've ever had in my life is always in California.  We even get Blue Points here and they don't taste like the Blue Points (that are "fresh") here.  So delicious.



PS- we saw a couple of Food Network celebrities in our hotel and I freaked out.  We love them!

Next morning, we were up bright and early...to bourbon hunt :)  My husband is a huge bourbon lover and thought Californians would not be as into bourbon as Kentucky/Ohio people.  He was right.  He found a lot of good stuff and took home a rare bottle.

Now on to wine!  Our first stop was Iron Horse.  We were most excited to try this place.  They were known for their sparklings but I was excited to try their Pinot's.  The Sparklings were so freaking good that we joined their wine club...for Sparkling Wine!!!  We are almost exclusive red wine drinkers so this is a huge deal for us.  And this is also our first wine club.

Anyway, the view is amazing and the atmosphere is so incredibly chill.  We went to Shramsberg last time, which was a fantastic tour!  However, it was very hoity-toity, our sparkling wines are the best, etc. etc.  This place is the complete opposite!  Great wines!!  Highly suggest this stop.




We headed over to Rodney Strong next.  We had a Tasting Dinner with Derek's parents back in 2016 so it was on our list to make a stop.  Truthfully, Derek and I do smaller, more intimate, wine tastings/tours so this place didn't make me super excited because it is larger.  The experience was exactly what I expected (no personalization) but the wines are sooooo good.  And it was fun to revisit.

The last stop of the day was Calluna.  This was another stop I heard amazing things.  The view was absolutely incredible and the tasting was held at the house of the owners.  I was a little disappointed only because the owners were out of town for the day.  Complete disclosure, the owner was amazing and warned me they may be out of town and even checked in with me the night before.  I think the experience would have been even more amazing if they were there to do the tasting.

We got to walk the grounds and try 2 of their wines.  The tasting is free and HIGHLY suggest this stop if you are in the Sonoma County area.




We got in our car and headed over to Yountville.  We checked in to our hotel and went straight to Wine Country Connection, our favorite wine shop ever!  We stayed in touch with the owners and love getting their help on wine throughout the year.  We knew we wanted to head back here to chat and try amazing wines.  I think we may have tried FIFTEEN wines that evening...yeah, no comment :)

Next morning we started at Silver Oak because, duh, it's Silver Oak :)  (this was the only repeat winery/tasting room from our previous trip that we went to) Possibly the best wines (in my opinion).  We did a blind taste tasting here as well and Derek and I were able to name the 3 which was pretty exciting.

We headed over to Freemark Abbey next.  This was on our list the first time we went to California but we couldn't squeeze it in so we were very excited to give this a try.  We did their cabernet comparative tasting.


If you like cabernet's, I think this is a must-stop for you.  The history here is insane.  The tasting was great and you learned so much about the different cabernets you were tasting.  Some of your tasting fee is waived here with bottle purchase, which is always a plus!




Next (which definitely should have been lunch at this point, ha!), we headed over to Elizabeth Spencer.  Oh my goodness, possibly the most fun and best stop the whole trip.  We did the blind tasting (seeing a theme here) and had a blast.  It was just Derek and I trying 4 different wines.  The wines were large pours (not tasting pours...oh my!) and were 100% varietals to make things easier on us.  We actually did really well!  We were able to try a couple other of their wines (a rose which is ah-mazing!) and by then we were pretty much crawling out of there lol.


We headed over to Rutherford Grill to grab lunch before our final tasting.  Our last stop was Hall wine.  We did the ridiculously expensive and over-the-top appellation testing.  I don't think we've ever been disappointed by an experience in Napa/Sonoma, but we were not impressed at all!  First of all, I'm not really sure why they emphasize appellation here.  We really didn't talk much about that.  Yes, everything is so gorgeous and the cave is amazing (seriously!).  But the wines were texturally unappealing (to me) which is so surprising.  These are very notable in Napa.  I would not suggest this stop unfortunately.


That evening, we did the tasting at The Restaurant at Meadowood.  We were lucky enough to do The French Laundry our first time in the Napa Valley.  We wanted to try the other 3 Michelin star rated restaurant.  The meal was fine but the service was exemplary!

And that pretty much wraps up our trip!  I think the next time we go, we will be bringing friends with us!

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