Napa... everything it's cracked up to be!
Napa Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
Although happy to spend as much time as I could in San Francisco, I was equally pleased to venture north into the Napa region of California to embark on some serious and protracted wine tasting. And I really wasn't disappointed with how it all panned out! The cottage my friend and I stayed at was stunning... really secluded yet not too far from the main road from which most of the wineries stem, and it wasn't long before we were vineyard crawling the length of the Valley.
For those of you thinking of taking a wine tasting trip, it sort of works like this... You get your hands on a map of the region from the information centre or a local store (it will have the various vineyards marked on it), then you establish a plan of attack (based on location, preferred winery, etc) and before you know it you're heading off to your first destination.
Many of the wineries charge a small fee for you to sample a 'flight' of their wines (sometimes they are already set, at others you can choose to have a red flight or a white/blush one). The sampling fee is usually between $5 and $15 and can include a nice port at the end. They are quite small splashes of wine so you can take your time discovering the bouquet between tastes, and if you're lucky some of the smaller wineries offer their samples for free.
What is so nice about Napa is the sheer variety. It isn't long before you're beginning to figure out which wines you prefer, meaning you can zone in on them as time goes by, comparing the varieties from each winery.
Another great tip is to head over to neighbouring Sonoma Valley instead of remaining solely in Napa. Sonoma is just as great, although there are fewer wineries, their samplings are usually always free, and there is a slightly friendlier vibe (less touristy). I picked up the most delectable chocolate port in a winery there... probably the best purchase I've ever made.
Heading into California's wine tasting region really is like something out of the movie Sideways and a travelling experience I can highly recommend if you have the time and inclination. It was beyond enjoyable and thoroughly relaxing... the perfect destination from San Francisco and a great way to develop your palate.