This is the question that kept running through my mind when Zach and I decided to plan a trip to California Wine Country. There are a MILLION wineries, so how could you narrow down where we visit?! How in the world do we get this wine home? How many wineries are too many in one day? Literally every question kept running through my head but I managed to answer each of them below.
The first thing we did was actually plan the trip. We just decided to go through Expedia. We got the flights, accommodations and rental car in a bundle. We decided to stay in Napa and fly into San Francisco. These were all pretty easy decisions to make. We also decided to stay at a Bed and Breakfast, we prefer small local places.
Once we got all that out of the way. I started asking EVERYONE for recommendations; People I work with, the girl at the bar that said shes been to Napa… yeah she literally wrote down places on the back of our receipt. I also put a picture on Instagram and messaged wine bloggers in California. I asked local industry workers if they had been to the valley and had any recommendations. I wrote down every single place people recommended (A TON) and if more than one person recommended it, I put it on a separate list.
I finally narrowed it down to about 10-12 wineries, these were the places that more than one person recommended. Once I did that, I hopped on Google Maps and made an itinerary that would make sense as far as driving. Almost all the wineries in Napa require a reservation, our entire trip was booked through reservations.
To make reservations, I emailed the wineries hospitality managers, you can get their email off their website. Every single person messaged me back and we figured out the time that would work. You do have to be aware that some tastings include a tour that could last 90 minutes. Most tastings lasted at least an hour. We ended up booking 9 reservations; two in Napa the first day, three in Sonoma the second day and four in Napa on the last day. We started our appointments right at 10AM when the wineries opened. Most wineries in Napa and Sonoma have their final tasting at 4:30PM. I gave myself two hours between all tastings. This ensured we had enough travel time. I would say the MAX wineries to visit in one day is four. This gives you enough time in between to grab lunch and actually enjoy the day! In the evening you can hit up a wine bar before dinner if you’re so inclined;)
Before our days started we ate a large breakfast and picked up snacks and water for the car. A lot of places in Napa have small convenient stores to pick up a small picnic. Clif Family even had a food truck so we got to sneak in a quick bite before our next appointment.
Once our itinerary was made, I looked into restaurants but we decided to only make one reservation for the first night and “wing” it for the rest and I am so glad we did. We just asked our tasting attendants throughout the day where they would eat. This led us to find Compline and Sigh, two wine bars that were amazing.
Now the most IMPORTANT question. How do you bring all this wine HOME? This was something we researched A LOT. Of course all the wineries ship home… typically you will want to ship at least 3 bottles to make the shipping cost worth it. There are also companies that you can take your wine to and they will box it and ship it. You can also buy pretty awesome wine luggage. This is something we might invest in soon. We did end up shipping 6 bottles from two separate wineries but brought 8 bottles home SAFELY! I decided to buy wine skins and it was the best decision. Of course we did have to check a bag… since it was just a weekend trip we were able to put all our belongings in our carryons and purposefully check a near empty suitcase knowing we were going to fill it with WINE. The best part…. 8 bottles was EXACTLY 50lbs with my toiletries… can I get a PRAISE BE?! We DID NOT want to pay the fee for heavy luggage.
Now that I got all the fun stuff out of the way be on the look out for our Napa and Sonoma day posts! Make sure you subscribe to the blog to get notified when I publish a post! I can’t wait to share all the wonderful places we went. It was seriously one of the best weekends of our lives and I CANNOT wait to go back… I seriously want to move there… maybe someday!