Sunday Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

When I started talking to my friend Aaron about the possibility of visiting him in San Francisco, one of his first questions was, “would you want to do some wine tasting?”

My response to that?

“Yes. Oh God, yes. Please. Right now.”

And so it was. He told us to check out the internetz, and see what floated our boats. After a lot of surfing around what seems like a million different wineries in Napa Valley, we settled on three choices. 

To start off, BV, myself, Aaron, and his friend, picked up our insanely conveniently rented ZipCar for the day. Aaron is a frequent ZipCar shopper, and I must say… Germany could use this service. They’re growing so I’m hoping it makes it here. Even better if they have automatic cars as well! How else does one makes emergency IKEA runs? I don’t know. Either way, it’s all tied to your smart phone, and you can be driving in a matter of minutes. Done and done.

We took a quick photo stop across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then headed north to Santa Rosa for some breakfast. 

After we carbo-loaded with eggs, toast, pancakes, and a California-appropriate avocado level, we were off on our chosen route. We started north and headed south back towards SF…

Our first stop was at a castle. What can I say, we were coming from Europe and were homesick? Or something. 

The Castello di Amorosa dates back almost 20 years, which in California terms is pretty darn old, I’d say. It was a truly lovely place, and my initial reaction upon walking in was “ZOMG best wedding location ever!” Not that I’m looking, it was just very obvious to me. We bought our wine tasting, and found our way down to the cellar where they took place. In addition to providing some respite from the heat, I enjoyed the archways and old-world feel of the cellar. Our $18 tasting bought us five wines, and the four of us mixed and matched so we could all taste a variety. 

The staff was really lovely, and very knowledgeable about the wines. We overheard one of them saying to another group that their specialty were the reds, but I’m sorry to say that we weren’t impressed. I’ve been spoiled by BV, our trip to Italy, and the fantastic reds we had there. I was never really a red wine fan, and it’s safe to say that I’ve been converted! Having said that, the whites at Castello d.A. were quite good. BV thought that the Gewurztraminer was way too sweet, but I thought it was good. Maybe better as a dessert wine though.

After the Castello, we were off to our next stop – Robert Sinskey Vineyards. This was BV’s choice, as he wanted something in the “Bio” world, on our tour. He’s German… what can I say? 

Back patio at Robert Sinskey

At the R.S.V., we opted for the “Flight of Fancy” $25 tasting. (Side note: when did the word ‘flight’ become synonymous with tastings? I was confused and felt very naive. Gah.) This tasting bought us four of their wines, plus some food. This time it was a set menu, with one white and three reds. 

Everything was homemade, with ingredients from their garden that you could walk through outside. In addition to that, it was all delicious. You say homemade cheese? I say I’m there. Sorry lactose-intolerant folk, I really am. 

We all agreed that the wines here were even better than our previous stop, and the reds were definitely a step up. But the last stop would be the determiner….

Black Stallion Winery was our last destination, and it came highly recommended by Aaron, our tour guide/host/driver. He had visited a few weeks before, and done a $30 tasting that got you tastes of four red wines, all from bottles priced upwards of $75. An added bonus here was that the pours were at least a half of a glass, and therefore we could share one tasting with two people. Given that this was the last stop of the day, that was probably a good thing. 

Aaron had also told us that when he visited before, they had gotten small snacks and chocolate. However, that was not our experience. The wine was very good, but there were no sweets to go with it. We’ll live, but were only slightly disappointed. 

I’m sorry I didn’t get better pictures… it was the end of a wine-filled day. Not much more I can say.

I’m no expert, but overall, I’d say that all three of the vineyards we went to were good. The first was definitely the most touristy, but given the surroundings, that was to be expected. My favorite was Robert Sinskey, but maybe I was swayed by the delicious food.

We chose these three, but the truth is, there’s no need to plan a trip in Napa Valley. Just drive a few minutes and you’ll see a sign for a vineyard somewhere. Our choices were great, and I’d recommend a stop if you see them, but in Napa I don’t think you can go that badly wrong. 

More information….

5 thoughts on “Sunday Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

  1. I know that since I live in France I should be content with the wine tours I've got here, but I really, really want to go to Napa Valley!
    And that vineyard would most definitely make an excellent wedding venue 🙂

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