Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, and Champagne (or Part Of My Weekend In Napa)

This past weekend was a fun weekend getaway for me! I went to Napa/Sonoma with my mom and sister-in-law! This trip had been in the works for a while now, and I had been looking forward to it for a long time. Even though I grew up in Northern California, I moved to LA when I was 18 and never went to Napa before. But my mom likes to go there and my brother and sister-in-law go up there at least once a month. So I was in good hands and trusted them to plan an awesome weekend.

I got into SFO very late on Friday, and the three of us headed up to Sonoma where we were staying. Since it was dark out, I didn’t really see too much, but I was very excited to see what was in store for me the next day.

On Saturday, we had a fun full day planned. Also, my best friend Kate was able to drive up and join us for the day! Once Kate got to the hotel, we got into the car and headed to our first appointment of the day: Arrowood.

I had no idea what was going to happen at the tasting, but my sister-in-law had set up a private room for a wine and cheese pairing. Plus, we had an incredible view!

Sonoma

Once we got inside the tasting room, we were given a menu of all the wines, cheeses, and condiments that we would be enjoying.

Arrowood menu

I’m typically a champagne or white wine drinker, but my sister-in-law really wants me to start liking reds. So I tried everything that was given to me (although I still don’t really like reds yet).

Arrowood Tasting

The whites were really good. And the cheeses really did make a difference in how each wine tasted. I had never really done a formal wine tasting before so this was a very cool experience. And I’m glad that my sister-in-law made an appointment for us for a private tasting because the lobby where non-appointment guests had tastes was very crowded and loud.

I didn’t end up purchasing any wine from Arrowood, but Kate and my mom got some.

After that tasting, we went to Benziger where they had a tour of their grounds as well as tastings. We didn’t have an appointment, but a tour was starting right after we got there, so the timing was perfect!

This tour started out by driving around some of the vineyards and the guide explaining on how they made the wine. They do everything on site, and while the grapes weren’t currently growing, it was all beautiful.

Benziger

After driving around the grounds, we got to go inside one of the caves where they store the barrels of wine.

Benziger cave

This was so cool! We learned about the barrel process and how long they have everything aging in the cave.

Cave barrels Benziger barrel

After touring the caves, we got to taste some of the wines. Again, I liked the white ones but the reds weren’t my favorite.

After those two tastings, we headed into town to have a nice lunch between our tastings. We were in a bit of a rush, but we all ordered things that were able to be made quickly. I had a mushroom truffle flatbread (I figured that would soak up some of my before lunchtime wine).

As we were leaving lunch, the sky started to look funny. And as soon as we were in the car a hailstorm started! It wasn’t too crazy at first, but then the hail got bigger and bigger and the storm didn’t seem to be letting up!

Our last wine stop for the day was Gundlach Bundschu. At this winery we had set up a cave tour and tasting inside the cave. It was still raining when we arrived, but we rushed into the cave to start the tour and tasting.

We learned a bit of history about the winery and then we tasted some of the wines that had already been bottled. But after that, we got to taste some of the wines in the barrels that were still aging!

Tasting in the cave

I probably learned more about wine that day than I have in my entire life! And I think that everyone agrees and also had an amazing time! And I bought a bottle of white wine from that vineyard (my mom will be driving down my way in April so she’s bringing me my wine since I couldn’t put it in my carry on).

Benzinger Group Photo

After all those tastings, we went out for a fun Italian dinner. Then Kate had to head back home(sadly she couldn’t join us for the entire weekend).

The next day wasn’t a wine tasting day (more on Sunday in tomorrow’s post!), but Monday was another wine day!

On Monday, we had 2 tastings set up. The first was at Duckhorn, where my brother and sister-in-law are members (so they get free tastings!).

Duckhorn Mom and me at Duckhorn

It was a bit cold out, but they had heaters on the patio, so we enjoyed a nice tasting outside. And we got a lot of tastings!

Duckhorn tasting

There are only 5 of our 7 tastings in that picture! Again, I didn’t love the reds (I gave my tastings to Krystle) but I really enjoyed the white wine! I really liked the tasting at Duckhorn because we got a card for each wine that had some information like the mixture of grapes, aging time, and flavor profiles on it. I might not have loved the tastes of all the wines, but I loved learning more about them!

Then we went to our final wine tasting, and the one that I had been looking forward to the most! We went to Schramsberg for sparkling wine tasting!

This tasting and tour included a cave tour and tasting by candlelight inside the cave! We had been inside a few caves already that weekend, so I thought I knew what to expect. But this cave was so incredible with all the sparkling wine bottles stacked from the ground to the top of the cave!

Wall of champagne

And since this was on a weekday, the cave was busy with people working there. We saw them take bottles out of the cave to be cleaned and ready for the next steps in the bottling process. But the coolest thing we saw was the drumming of the bottles (I never knew that was a thing before).

Champagne drumming

We also learned how they get the yeast (which makes the bubbles) out of the bottles without losing the bottles. And that was also in a section of the cave that was floor to ceiling bottles.

In front of wall of champagne

Finally, it was time to taste! And the area for the tasting was so beautiful!

Champagne tasting

Holy moly that sparkling wine was good! I loved all 3 bottles that we tried. 2 of them cost more than $100 (more than I can afford), but we did try a rose that was a much  more reasonable price. So I ended up buying a bottle of that. And my mom ended up joining their wine club so I got to take advantage of her new discount.

That was such a perfect note to end the wine tasting weekend on! I had such an amazing time and we’ve already decided that we will be making wine tasting weekends an annual occurrence!

And I haven’t shared what we did on Saturday yet. That will come tomorrow, and that day was amazing as well!

3 responses to “Wine, Wine, Wine, Wine, and Champagne (or Part Of My Weekend In Napa)

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