Last summer, Sasha and I got married at The Carneros Inn in Napa Valley (see photos here and here). I am head-over-heels in love with the California Wine Country. I went for the first time in 2010 and have been five times since. Although I could spend an eternity there, I’ve created a travel guide which outlines two absolutely perfect days in Sonoma, Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. While most of my trips have been day trips, I’ve stayed at The Meritage Resort and Spa and The Carneros Inn (for the wedding). I highly recommend both, although The Meritage is more reasonably priced for a weekend trip.
To make navigation a little easier, I’ve created a Google map with all of the recommendations below. Don’t want to drive around? Smart decision. There are lots of private drivers in the area, including Private Limousine Service, Wine Country Driver and Pure Luxury.
Please share with me some of your Wine Country favorites! I’d love to try them on our next trip. Click here to see a list of my other city guides.
Two Perfect Days in the California Wine Country
Day 1: Sonoma and Napa
- Eat breakfast at FARM at The Carneros Inn (get there early and be prepared to wait – it’s worth it) – then play some bocce ball in the main courtyard when you’re done!
- Drive to Domaine Carneros and walk up the majestic stairs to what reminds me of a French chateau – get your day started early with some amazing sparkling wine.
- Leave Domaine Carneros and drive to the nearby Artesa Vineyards, where you’ll find another incredible view – look into doing a private tour of the facilities (totally worth it).
- Head towards Sonoma Square to wander through the park, look at the cute stores, grab a coffee at Sunflower Caffé, and get your name on the reservation list for either HopMonk Tavern or The Girl and the Fig (both are delicious – and busy!).
- After eating lunch, pile back in the car and head towards Gundlach Bundschu (where we had our rehearsal dinner) – they wine is absolutely phenomenal.
- Take a short drive to nearby Nicholson Ranch, and gaze out at the rolling wine country in front of you.
- Determine your ability to drink more wine (c’mon, you can do it!), and if you’re up for it, end your day’s wine tasting at Viansa (amazing cheeses!).
- Return to your hotel to shower, rest and get ready for dinner at Azzurro Pizzeria E Enoteca in downtown Napa and walk around the pretty little city afterwards.
Day 2: Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga
- Start your day off with breakfast at Bouchon Bakery in quaint Yountville.
- Head to Domaine Chandon at 10am (when it opens) – this is my favorite sparkling wine (have you tried sparkling red yet?), and the gorgeous patio and greenery make for the most relaxed wine tastings.
- Drive down Highway 29 to nearby Robert Mondavi vineyard, where the expansive green lawn makes for perfect strolling while sipping on your wine flight.
- Stop at Rutherford Grill for lunch – again, it can be busy around lunchtime, but worth the wait.
- Take a turn off Highway 29 to head to Frog’s Leap and get lost in the gardens (lots of fruits and veggies being grown) – sit in one of the lawn chairs and just relax.
- When you’re ready to leave, determine what’s left in the tank – if you are up for two more vineyards, go to Beringer (some of our favorite reds) and Sterling Vineyards. If you can only handle one more, just go to Sterling and ride the gondola up to the top… the views are breathtaking. Do the self-guided tour and spent time on the patio when you’re done.
- Return to your hotel to freshen up before the best meal ever at The French Laundry (but make reservations well in advance!).