California is undoubtedly known for its wine and culinary culture. No matter where you grew up, you know that wine, avocados, almonds and artichokes all come from California. Truth is, California produces 90 percent of all the wine in the United States. The Napa Valley region alone contributes up to $50 billion to the american economy. Needless to say, us Californian's take great pride in our wines.
When visiting wine country, here are our favorite places to stop by for wine tastings, food, and beautiful views. We find it very important to have a plan before you head out to wine country. With over 400 vineyards in this small area, it can be pretty overwhelming.
1. Oenetri - Grab brunch here. A southern Italian restaurant discovered by us via the Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern. The server said that they were locally known for their pizzas. We picked two pies along with a creamy pesto pasta that was made in house from scratch. Absolutely outstanding! Every bite was filled with perfect flavor. We paired our lunch with a cold sparkling red, Fondo Bozzole "Incantabiss" Lambrusco from Italy. With a good price and an exciting take on red wine, we thoroughly enjoyed every last drop.
2. Domaine Chandon - This gorgeous winery is almost like a museum when you first walk in because of it's popularity. Walk past all of the touristy guided tours and up the stairs to the tasting room. We recommend you get the classic bubbles tasting so you can try all four of Chandon's popular varieties. Hang out in one of the Adirondack chairs in the yard and enjoy the lush views. It is also dog friendly which is a plus.
3. Robert Mondavi- Walk through the Spanish style arch made famous by their wine's labels and hold your breath for some magical views of their grape covered hills. The wine tastings take place in an indoor-outdoor setting so beautiful, you'll be wanting to get married right here on this property.
4. Folie A Deux winery and tasting room - This tasting room is also home to the brands Menage a Trois and Napa Cellars. You've probably seen Menage a Trois' red blend, the California Red Wine in most wine stores for a good price. It's our go-to wine. The way they do the tastings here is by brand. There were three of us so it was perfect for all of us to try one and sip each others to compare the three. The tasting room is cozy and the staff is welcoming.
5. Hotel Ivy - Clean, comfortable and well priced compared to it's neighboring hotels. Hotel Ivy also has complementary breakfast so you can get more out of your money.
6. Domaine Carneros - This beautiful estate is propped prominently on the side of a hill and cannot be missed from the road. Sit on the patio overlooking a gorgeous view. The website says that you need to make a reservation for a tasting however, we have always been able to get helped within 20 minutes of arriving. Carneros also offers small appetizers for pairing. Enjoy some bread and smoked salmon.
7. Scribe - Situated in Sonoma County, this Spanish style hacienda offers tastings on their palm tree lined property. The house dates back to pre-prohibition times. The fourth generation farmers and owners pride themselves on being eco-friendly. This winery is smaller than the others mentioned and totally comfortable. It is a picture perfect place to have some afternoon wine and a picnic. Call for reservations at this location.
Let me know if you have any questions about Napa or Sonoma. I love giving honest advice or researching anything travel related!
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