I love wine, and any opportunity I have to spend time in wine country is something I typically jump at. This past weekend I enjoyed a long weekend in Yountville which included great meals, and trips to wineries in both Napa Valley and Sonoma.
I cannot say enough about the beautiful setting and ambiance at Frog's Leap. The indoor living room looks as if it is part of a Restoration Hardware catalog with gray hues, and rustic wood elements throughout. The outdoor patio is the perfect place to taste wine and waste away the day. It was chilly the morning that we were there, so they were providing blankets for guests to get warm while they sipped. We tasted a Chardonnay, and then also a Zinfandel, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The Zinfandel was my favorite, and I also snagged a taste of the Petite Syrah which had hints of plum and blueberry.
The Flora Springs estate is located in St. Helena in a friendly setting with a even friendlier staff. A large garden awaits as you enter to begin the tasting, and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc was poured for our tour as we entered the caves for a barrel tasting. Inside the caves we had the chance to sample wines from both American oak and French oak, and upon our exit we were seated at a beautiful table outside where we enjoyed a further tasting and boxed lunches from the Yountville Deli. My favorite wine of the day was one of their signature wines called the Trilogy. The wine is 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, and 6% Malbec, and had rich fruit flavors including notes of blackberry and cassis. I ordered a few bottles to be delivered to me at home so I can continue to enjoy Flora Springs over the coming months.
I would not recommend wasting your time at Domaine Chandon. While the bubbles are nice, it's a large corporate museum-like structure that is crawling with tourists and lacks character or charm. Stick with the family owned or smaller scale vineyards that provide a more unique and intimate experience.
For our second day we decided to rent a bus and head over to Sonoma so we could taste some of the wines from the Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley. We visited Ridge Vineyards, Lambert Bridge, and Comstock Wines. I am a member of Ridge and have been before, and have also previously been to Lambert Bridge. Comstock was new for me, and was a fun spot because they had a beautiful outdoor area that included bocce courts and cornhole.
The Rhone varietals at Ridge are among some of my favorite wines in the United States. We tasted Zinfandels, the Grenache Mataro, the Lytton Springs, and the Monte Bello. While some of my favorites like the Carignane and Petite Syrah were sold out, I wasn't too concerned given I have many bottles in my collection at home thanks to the ATP Wine Club.
Lambert Bridge created a beautiful outdoor tasting for us among the picnic tables in their garden. In addition to the tasting, we enjoyed boxed lunches from the Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg.
RESTAURANTS & FOOD
On this trip we hit a bunch of spots across Napa and Sonoma. Our first stop was Bottega for appetizers and wine on the patio. You can't go wrong with their meat, cheese, and arancini. A full sit down meal at Bottega is always a good idea, it just wasn't part of the plan for this trip. We also enjoyed dinner at Oenotri in downtown Napa. Their southern Italian menu provided great pizza and pasta options after a long day of tasting. I always recommend a stop at the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville for coffee and a pastry. I couldn't help but to snag an espresso macaron. We also enjoyed dinner at Goose & Gander in St. Helena. While the service wasn't great, we did enjoy the rustic American fare. Finally, we loved stopping by the Dry Creek General Store in Healdsburg for a drink at the bar, but also for a few snacks and sandwiches to fuel up on before the drive back to Yountville.