Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Napa and Sonoma in Two Days

Wine country has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I'd seen several gorgeous photos and had heard it was just a short drive out of San Francisco, but that was about it. I was totally oblivious to tasting costs, best places to visit, or any sort of wine pass. Thankfully, with a little homework and the help of some wonderful folks, we were able to plan and pull off the perfect visit to both Napa and Sonoma in just two days, and on a budget. It you're starting out a little clueless, just like we did, or if you're just searching for the perfect itinerary, here's what we did, how we did it, and what we would recommend!


Determining Your Game Plan

First off, you've got to decide what kind of wineries you'd like to visit, how many, and in which budget range. Some of this will also be determined by the type of wine you actually like. We're teachers, so we're on a decently conservative budget. I also prefer whites and sweeter wines, which means that places that didn't offer white tasting were either a waste of my time or money (or both). We went back and forth about paying for a tour that would take us from place to place, but ended up really happy that we saved our money and just rented a car. As long as you are responsible, eating, drinking water, and taking your time- you'll be just fine. Tasting portions aren't super super big. Also, we didn't make reservations ahead of time at any of the places we visited, but you may need to do so if you have groups of five or more. Just be sure to check and see when places close!


 Priority Wine Pass and Local Wally Help

To help in the planning, and to figure out just where we should actually visit, I found and contacted Local Wally for his Napa and Sonoma advice. He had several first timer itineraries on his website, and after I answered some questions to give him an idea of our budget and winery preferences (boutique vs. big name, red vs. white) he gave us an itinerary with deals listed next to each place! To save on our costs, we also purchased the Priority Wine Pass through Wally, which was $39.99 and offers you 2 for 1 or even free tastings and discounts at lots and lots of wineries throughout the country. The pass is good for an entire calendar year, and we used it at every single place we visited, so we basically paid $40 to get half off everything else. It was super easy to use the pass, and we just showed it to the wineries when we went it.

Napa Valley

Day One: NAPA

We rolled into Oakland around 12, and then got our rental car and drove about an hour up into the Napa Valley. Keep in mind that many of the wineries will close by 4 or 5 at the latest, so you'll want to be sure you visit the ones that close earlier first. We also stayed out in Vacaville for both nights because we had free IHG nights, and so we did a little bit more driving at the end of the night, and even ate in Vacaville our last night. There are vineyards and wineries everywhere though, so it didn't feel that far out! 

Andretti Winery

Stop 1: Andretti

Andretti looks like a little Italian village. They offer 2 for 1 tastings on the pass, and had the best moscato I've ever had (Villa Andretti Napa Valley). Even though it was $40 a bottle, Im still kicking myself in the butt for not buying it! They also sell yummy mustards and cheeses, and have beautiful vineyards.

Hagafen Cellars

Stop 2: Hagafen Cellars

Hagafen was probably the most reasonable winery we visited, and one of my favorites. Their tasting fee goes towards the price of the bottle, and you still get two for one tasting. It only cost us two more dollars to bring a bottle of wine home, so we went for it. They have great whites, and also a really fun area to play corn hole, Yahtzee, and chess! 

Hagafen Cellars

Stop 3: Trinchero Napa Valley

Trinchero is a bit more "upscale", but is incredibly beautiful. We tried the $10 artisan cheese plate, and it was delicious and totally worth it. They also do two for one tasting. The grounds are newly renovated and gorgeous, and they actually took us on a tour of their grounds (and snapped the only picture we have of the two of us together!!)


Trinchero Winery

Stop 4: V. Sattui Winery

Our final stop for the day was at V. Sattui. It also has incredibly beautiful grounds (see the theme?), and a huge store with deli, cheese, and all sorts of souvenirs. They also offer tons and tons of tasting for reasonable prices (2 for 1 with the pass), though we were tasted out by the time we made it here. 

V Sattui

V Sattui

For dinner, we hopped around several places, but finally ended up at the reasonable, delicious Azzurro Pizzeria e Enoteca. Aaron had a delicious manciata, which is dough with a salad and meat on top that you can fold and eat like a sandwich. I enjoyed the baked rigatoni- delicious! We drove back to Vacaville for the night, and got ready for a full day in Sonoma! 

Day Two: SONOMA

We woke up and headed into Sonoma, timing it to arrive at our first winery right around 10:30 (they open at 10). Yes, it's kinda early for wine, but hey- you want to keep it spaced out and be responsible, right? 

St. Francis Winery

Stop 1: St. Francis Winery

St. Francis also had very beautiful grounds that were excellent for picture taking (which they were actually doing for their company the day we were there). They also offered two for one tastings, and had a neat little path you could follow with fun facts and information about wine and the company. 


Stop 2: Landmark Vineyards

The sun was coming out of the clouds right when we reached Landmark. Their tasting were very reasonable, and they also took our two for one pass, though they said they were phasing out of it. We saw several large tour groups (like the tour we considered doing) there sharing a meal and wine, so we figured we were in the right place. We also purchased some awesome wine packs here that kept it safe on the flight home (in checked luggage). 

Our rental car for the two days...they upgraded us free after we had to wait for 30 min. Thanks, Hertz!

After Landmark, we drove into the city of Sonoma for a quick, cheap, and yummy lunch at Happy Dog


Stop 3: B. Wise Winery

We just stopped in to the small tasting room that wasn't on the actual vineyard property for B. Wise. They've got a pretty nifty story, and are a bit more upscale, but still offer the two for one pricing. They also have some pretty serious reds if that's your thing! 

Stop 4: Deerfield Ranch Winery

Deerfield is super cool because you get to taste inside of a cave. They also do the two for one tastings, and the nice lady even let me borrow her jacket when I got chilly inside. It's fun to walk through their racks and racks of wine barrels!

Stop 5: Schug Winery

Schug was our last stop on the trip, when we were starting to feel pretty wined out (if that's a thing). They did have really beautiful grounds that were a bit more off of the beaten path, and they actually offer two complimentary tastings with the pass! I had to get a little artsy with my photos on the drive.


After Aaron spoiled me and let me get my nails done, we drove back to Vacaville for dinner. Aaron found the number 3 restaurant in the city, and it didn't disappoint: Los Reyes Restaurant and Cantina. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed Mexican and conversation about all of our fun, before heading on to San Francisco for our next few days. More on that to come!

Napa and Sonoma are gorgeous and a whole lot of fun. Sonoma is a little bit more low-key, but you can also make Napa a little bit claimer and more budget friendly if you follow the plan we did! Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions! Cheers! 

Currently,
Kelsie

38 comments:

  1. I haven't been to Napa yet but I really want to go! It looks gorgeous!

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  2. This looks like an awesome time. I've never been but would definitely like to. But I wouldn't know where to start so this is some helpful info!

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    1. It is truly a blast!! I'm glad you're able to use it for a starting point!

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  3. Some friends of mine visited here for their honeymoon. I think it looks like the perfect relaxing, romantic and simple getaway. Would love to visit sometime.

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    1. Oh yes, it would be a great honeymoon stop. It's definitely relaxing and romantic. Visit for sure!

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  4. So fun! These photos are absolutely breathtaking!

    Rachel / www.seashellsandsparkles.com

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  5. I've been wanting to visit the wineries in Napa and Sonoma for so long! Looks like you had a wonderful time and it's so great you were able to go on a budget too! I need to bookmark this for future reference!

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    1. YES! Please do go visit. I hope this helps you- you should definitely make a visit!

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  6. This looks like so much fun! Napa Valley is one of the places I'd like to visit soon. :)

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    1. It was a blast for sure! Go check it out!

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  7. I love doing wine tastings! My boyfriend and I did tour through Viator and we loved it. It was not that expensive which was really great! We got to visit Nicholson Ranch, Sutter Homes & Madonna Estate. I will admit that Sutter Homes was very picky and would not let us try another wine that was outside of what we had paid for, though we were willing to pay to taste the other wine. Completely disappointed in them. Nichelson Ranch was beautiful and had some great wine. Madonna Estate was the smallest of the three wineries but the had some amazing white wines to try. Hagafen Cellars looks so pretty! I would love to visit there.

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    1. That's awesome, Mistie! I'm glad you enjoyed your visit. Hagafen was for sure super pretty!

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  8. I love this! First off, you are gorgeous and these pictures are adorable. Second, you are so right about choosing wineries based on the kind of wine you like! Jordan and I both like reds and dry whites, so we tried to choose places known for those. I think we actually went to Deerfield and into that cave and chatted with the owner while we split a bottle! I loved seeing all these pictures. We hope to go back one day!

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    1. Oh, you're way too sweet, my friend! Yes, the owners in Deerfield were super super fun and kind! Thanks for reading- I hope you guys make it back!!

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  9. So amazing! I visited Napa but didn't stop at any of the wineries you did. There are so many to choose from, it's kind of overwhelming. I can't wait to plan another trip back!

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  10. Napa and Sonoma are such gorgeous places! <3 I passed by it all the time on the way home from college, but I've [sadly] never actually spent all that much time there! I need to go check it out! Looks like you had an awesome time! :]

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  11. Two days is so hard! But you picked some great spots! I run a second lifestyle blog all about traveling in Sonoma :) it's called asavvylifestyle.com if you want to check it out!

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  12. It's been over 5 years since I last went to Nappa. I love your tips and am bookmarking this for when I make that trip again. :)

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  13. Oh how jealous I am!!! Napa was on our bucket list before we moved out of Northern California but then I get pregnant with our second and had to scratch the idea. One day I will go. I must after seeing your photos!!

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  14. I've been to Napa and loved every minute of it! I can't wait to hit Sonoma next time we go :)

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  15. I have always wanted to go to Napa and this two-day trip sounds like the perfect itinerary! Thanks for giving such good tips for a visit!

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  16. I live in the Bay Area, so Wine Country is obviously very close! We are planning to go up there for the day soon and your post made me even more excited for that! That pass seems like a great deal--I might need to look into it! Can't wait to read your post about your time in SF!

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  17. WINE?! Um...yes! Sign me up! Looks like y'all had a wonderful visit! I've never been to Napa or Sonoma but have always wanted to.

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  18. This looks beautiful! I really want to visit Napa soon!

    Tori
    mooretori.com

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  19. Your pictures are beautiful! My husband and I went to Napa & Sonoma a couple years ago and I'm already dying to go back -- it's such a beautiful place :)

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  20. My family lives in Napa Valley (right by the famous Napa valley sign actually) and I just love to visit. Thanks for sharing your travel advice!

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  21. I've never been to Napa but I hope to visit in the next week it has such a stunning charm!

    HashtagFabLife

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  22. I would love to check out Sonoma. Looks like you had a great time.

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  23. Love visiting Napa and Sonoma-- it's so gorgeous and um, wine! I've been to V. Sattui once and loved it, great recommendation. Can't wait to get up there again!

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  24. Napa looks gorgeous at this time of the year!
    www.kayleighskloset.com

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  25. Thank you for this! I'm also a white wine fan and love wine tasting but find that it can get super expensive if you don't plan well. Sounds like your trip was amazing! x

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  26. Sounds amazing I really want to visit soon!

    Laura B. | www.LauraWears.com

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  27. I really want to visit Napa Valley someday, because WINE! It looks beautiful there!

    Stephanie | www.stephanietherese.com

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  28. This looks and sounds amazing! Napa is definitely on my travel bucket list!

    xo Ashley

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  29. This looks like so much fun! My husband isn't a wine fan, but maybe someday I'll talk him into driving me around :)

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  30. I have never visited napa and sonoma but i have listen about it, It is famous for wine country. Find luxury livermore winery limo service to make your trip luxury.

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