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Old 03-20-2017, 11:55 PM   #1
TexasChick
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Default California Wine Country TR

We just got back from the CA wine country. We left on Thursday morning and got back on Monday night. This was an adult-only trip with my husband and my two sisters and their husbands. We stayed in an amazing house in Sonoma that overlooked the hills (mountains?). The flight over was ok, but there was a over an hour delay because the pilot who was supposed to fly our plane was sent home because he was sick. We had to wait for a new pilot to get there. They did let people get off the plane and mill around though, which was nice. We flew into San Jose and drove up to Sonoma. The drive was BEAUTIFUL! Thursday night, we ate at El Dorado Kitchen in Sonoma which was delicious. The tomato soup was out of this world.

Friday morning, we all got up and hit the wineries a lot like we hit Disney Parks. BTW, my BIL made all the reservations for tastings at the wineries because apparently, you cannot just show up at a lot of them anymore. When my DH and I went 6 1/2 years ago, we just showed up. My sister and her DH rented a mini van, and we hired a driver that was added to the van. Apparently, it is a thing people do in lieu of a limo. We voted on limo versus driver where we provide the car, and the second option won. Our driver was...um...well, he drove like a grandpa. If the purpose of a driver is to get you there safely and smoothly, then he excelled on the safety portion and failed miserably on the smoothly portion. He liked to hit the brakes...a lot...and very hard. Some had to trade off on riding in the front because of the frequent violent braking which caused them to be car sick. He was very nice and very knowledgeable though, so we all agreed that no one would complain, and we just wouldn't use him again. On to the good stuff, we hit 6 wineries on that first day all in Sonoma. The group favorite was Arrowood. The lunch at VJG was amazing too! That night my DH and I made dinner at the house, and we all relaxed in the hot tub. None of us stayed up very late after a day of wine drinking.

Saturday, we were up and out bright and early again because we went to the Napa wineries which were further away. We only made it to 4 wineries this day because these were a much more relaxed pace for some reason. The group favorite that day for wine was Bennet Lane. The favorite locations were a tie between Keenan and William Hill because of the beauty of each. We at lunch ate Gott's Roadside in St. Helena. The burgers were good, but the people who worked there were not friendly at all. Oh well. We didn't let it damper the meal. That night we made food at the amazing house again and then hit up the hot tub overlooking the amazing view. Went to bed even earlier this night. Haha.

Sunday, it was on to stay at the Fairmont in SF. This is such a beautiful and neat hotel. We went across the Golden Gate Bridge (which is toll tag only now and $7.50). We ate dim sum for lunch at Yank Sing in Rincon center which was crazy busy. I'm so glad we made a reservation! It was sooooo delicious. Then we all needed to let the food settle before we walked off all the food and took an Uber to Golden Gate Park. We explored Fort Point and then walked all the way to Fisherman's Wharf. We ate some sourdough bread at Boudin. We also ordered the clam chowder in a bread bowl, which was TERRIBLE! The goat cheese appetizer however was delicious. Also, their raspberry lemon drop cocktail was delightful. We had to go back to the hotel and get ready for dinner at Gary Danko. I have only been there one other time which was the only other time I have been to SF. It was just as amazing as the time before. The food was out of this world. We brought two bottles of wine that we bought up in the wine country and paid the $50/bottle corkage fee. One of the best meals ever. Then, we went to the Tonga Room at the Fairmont and had one more drink before bed. It is such a fun place. It's basically a Tiki Room for adults.

Monday morning we got up and drove back to San Jose to catch our flight and come home. It was our first time driving through Palo Alto which was really pretty. We got home this evening early enough to hang out with our kids before bed time as my DD has come down with something. It was an amazing adult-only trip and a nice break, but I am happy to be home with my kids now.

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Old 03-21-2017, 12:01 AM   #2
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I did want to add that we bought what amounted to one case of wine between all the bottles from all the different wineries (we bought 15 bottles actually, but 3 got drunk on the trip by our group). My BIL bought us all these cardboard boxes that have a styrofoam wine case inside for like $12. We just checked it with our luggage because we had free bags, and we flew home with it. Amazingly, all the wine was fine and intact when we arrived. I have had numerous friends and family members do this, but I was nervous the wine would break. It all worked out though, and now we have delicious vino in our wine fridge direct from the wineries! We only bought bottles that we cannot buy in Houston. I'm so happy to have "special occasion" wine that isn't sold here for years to come!
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:55 AM   #3
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I really enjoyed your report! That's a great tip about hiring a driver, I've often wondered about the safety of all day wine tasting if you're driving. I will keep that in mind if we ever go.
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Old 03-21-2017, 06:48 AM   #4
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Great summary, glad you enjoyed. I had the pleasure of visiting wine country with some close friends (from here on MouseOwners, actually) in October. A wonderful time, indeed.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:13 AM   #5
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Sounds like an amazing trip!
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:39 AM   #6
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wow, what an amazing trip report down to the last detail. I haven't done the Sonoma wineries in years but will have to make this a must do soon.. Glad you and your wine made it home safely.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melk View Post
I really enjoyed your report! That's a great tip about hiring a driver, I've often wondered about the safety of all day wine tasting if you're driving. I will keep that in mind if we ever go.
When my husband and I went by ourselves in 2010, we hired a driver with a town car. That was great too, but it is quite a bit more expensive than hiring a driver with the car provided by us. I'm not a big drinker, but I found myself "happy" pretty quickly even with splitting tastings. None of the wineries cared when we did that. I am such a lightweight now that it wasn't even a question as to whether my DH and I would split tastings. We just asked to "revisit" ones that we liked. They were all too happy to keep pouring us wine because we bought most bottles that we revisited.

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Originally Posted by Brian5581 View Post
Great summary, glad you enjoyed. I had the pleasure of visiting wine country with some close friends (from here on MouseOwners, actually) in October. A wonderful time, indeed.
The first time that we went was in October in 2010. They definitely were generous on their pours in October to the point that we were pretty "happy" after just the first winery and had to get some food to sober up. I learned about splitting tastings on that trip. It was a slower time when we went in October because there was some large festival the weekend before, and it was pretty dead, so everyone was all too happy to give us basically full pours for tastings.

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Sounds like an amazing trip!
We had a blast. I think it is something I can do every 5 or so years though because I am such a lightweight. I'm pooped.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Disneynut4sure View Post
wow, what an amazing trip report down to the last detail. I haven't done the Sonoma wineries in years but will have to make this a must do soon.. Glad you and your wine made it home safely.
We only did Napa on our first trip, but the Sonoma wineries were so fun. They are a lot more laid back. My sister said that when she went in October 2016 with a big group, they went to the Russian River Valley too which wasn't a big hit even though there were Pinot Noir drinkers in the group, so we skipped it this trip. It made me sad because I enjoy Pinot Noir myself. It is a very different experience than Napa which made it more fun. Generally, the tastings are cheaper too which is nice for the pocket book! I liked doing one day of Napa wineries and one day of Sonoma wineries and would recommend that to anyone!
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:01 AM   #9
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I have to add that we stayed in the Fairmont for $199/night including parking (which is normally $70). They were running an amazing deal called Room with Vroom! When we got to the hotel, I asked if we could upgrade from an interior queen room to a king room, and we only had to pay $40. They weren't going to do it for free no matter how much I tried. :/ It was worth it! The room was 100 sq. ft. bigger with an exterior view and a king bed. Best $40 I had spent in a while! The best part about it was that our room was ready when we showed up at noon! When does that happen?!? My sister and her DH got upgraded to a suite because they are in the process of becoming members of the Fairmont timeshare. Their room was ridiculous. It had a clear view of Alcatraz out of their picture window.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:40 PM   #10
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We only made it to 4 wineries this day because these were a much more relaxed pace for some reason.
You should come back more and take your time. 4 wineries is pretty much considered a maximum for wine tasting. Relaxed pace is 1-2. Maybe 1-2 more with a designated driver or limo. But it's hard because there really are a lot of good wineries in Napa and even more so in Sonoma. Glad you enjoyed the area.

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