One (of many!) perks about living in San Francisco is that I’m just a few hours from some really beautiful places. Destinations like Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur and wine country are close by.
Since moving out to California, I’ve visited Sonoma and Napa a few times. My first experience was in Napa for my best friend’s wedding. Another time was for my birthday. And the rest were random weekend trips with friends.
So, a quick disclaimer: I’m by no means a guru when it comes to your weekend itinerary in wine country. But what I can do is share a few of my favorites wineries with you. So if you stumble upon this little post, you’ll at least walk away with a few ideas.
Oh, and if you want to do wine country in style? Rent a convertible, grab a gal pal, turn up the tunes and hop around the valley like Thelma and Louise. But that’s just a suggestion. 😉
If You’re Looking For Rustic…
The first vineyard that I’m going to share with you is actually my favorite. I’ve been to this winery several times now, and it’s one that I’ve even brought friends and family to.
So, just to give you some background. When I think of wineries, I think of beautiful vineyards tucked away in hidden valleys, right? So, as I was doing research, I knew I wanted to stay away from the Sonoma and Napa scene. Don’t get me wrong, those are places that you should definitely check out! But I wanted something a little more rustic. And that’s when I discovered a few of my favorite vineyards around the village of Glen Ellen.
MATANZAS CREEK WINERY (website)
This, my friends, is still, to this day, my favorite winery. As I mentioned above, it’s located in the secluded Glen Ellen. So, the drive to the estate is beautiful. You feel as though you’re tucked away in your own private area of Sonoma Valley.
It has a beautiful lavender field and surrounding gardens, where you can play a game of bocce or enjoy a picnic. Or you can sit up on their porch, shaded by a big, beautiful Oak tree, and sip on a variety of wines while you enjoy the view.
The best part? We went in the fall (September, I believe) and I was delighted to discover that vines actually change color!
BENZIGER FAMILY WINERY (website)
If you check out Matanzas Creek, then make sure to stop at Benziger as well. It’s another beautiful estate that feels like it’s tucked away.
It has beautiful gardens, a koi pond, and a large deck where you can enjoy a wine tasting.
Plus, I hear they have an awesome winery tour.
If You’re Looking For Bubbles…
MUMM NAPA (website)
If you’re looking for an awesome champagne tasting, definitely go to Mumm. You’ll get a flight of four varieties of four sparkling wines. With very generous pours!
If the weather is nice, make sure to enjoy their outdoor deck. You can leisurely sip on yummy champagne while enjoying the view of the vineyards below.
If You’re Looking To Vineyard Hop…
If your game plan is to make a day of it, then head to the Silverado Trail near Yountville, CA. It’s a scenic road that’s much less traveled. Plus, it has a variety of vineyards along the route that you can check out. A few to add to your list…
LANDMARK VINEYARDS (website)
This the winery that I celebrated my birthday at. They have a large outdoor seating area, where we spent the majority of our time. The view was great and we were next to a trickling fountain.
If you’re in the mood for bocce, you can play right next to a pond. Or you can just frolick around the estate. Wine in hand, of course.
CLIFF LEDE VINEYARDS (website)
To change things up a little bit, head to Cliff Lede, where you’ll find art, sculptures and great wine. I especially loved the sculpture of the two giant hearts near the outdoor seating area. Make sure to get a cute picture there!
If You’re Looking For A Little History…
BERINGER BROTHER VINEYARDS (website)
Located in the little town of St. Helena, this vineyard is also one of my favorites. You won’t miss it as you head out of town. It’s a big, beautiful mansion. It’s one of the older wineries in Napa Valley. Plus, it’s on the National Register of Historial Places AND a California historical landmark.
You’ll feel fancy strolling around the estate. And make sure to enjoy a flight of reds on their wrap-around porch.
Also, side note: If you’re in the area around the holidays, I know that they decorate the mansion. They put up a big, beautiful tree right between two big staircases. I can only imagine, but I’m certain that it would put you in the holiday spirit.
Oh, and don’t forget to spend some time in downtown St. Helena. It’s a cute little town full of shops, restaurants, an old movie theater and more!
Let’s go places,
What are your favorite vineyards in wine country? Share with us in the comment section below!
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