Through Our Wineglasses

Napa and Sonoma…Venturing Beyond Paso Robles


We rarely venture out beyond Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo and feel perfectly content doing so considering the quality of wines so close to home.  (We do hope to make it to Europe some day though)

A few weeks ago we ventured out all the way up to Napa and Sonoma to meet up with my brother and his wife and daughters who were visiting from Pennsylvania.  We were a bit apprehensive about visiting the larger wineries of Napa and Sonoma since we consider ourselves quite spoiled by the smaller and more intimate wineries of Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo.

As always we start our wine tasting adventures with a full belly or at least a full bag of cheese and charcuterie.  Ray’s been interested in going to Thomas Keller‘s restaurant in Yountville called Addendum for quite a while so we figured that would be a great place to begin.  Our dog Nellie was along with us so we were happy to see that Addendum is located in a park-like setting behind the AdHoc restaurant.  We enjoyed some amazing fried chicken unlike any we had tasted before.  We brought along a bottle of wine that unfortunately didn’t fare well in the heat as it was well into the 90’s.  My brother owns a wonderful restaurant in Ardmore, PA called Barbacoa which serves up some incredible Peruvian style rotisserie chicken along with some other delectable dishes.  He really enjoyed the food and talking shop with the staff.

Group of people at picnic table at Addendum restaurant in Yountville, CA


Our first winery, Frog’s Leap in Rutherford caught us off guard right at the end of their driveway when we saw a sign that said something about an needing an appointment.  My sister-in-law called the tasting room from the end of the driveway asking if we could get in for a tasting.  Thankfully they had room for us for a Garden Tasting so we found a nice table in the shade out back.

My brother chose Frog’s Leap Winery to ensure his daughter’s that watching four adults taste wine wasn’t going to be all that bad.  He had heard somewhere that that Frog’s Leap Winery had a petting zoo.  When we asked the gal that greeted us about the petting zoo she looked stumped–no petting zoo there but she did tell us that there were a few chickens the girls could visit but to watch out for the rooster as one of them has very sharp talons and is pretty mean.  They chose not to see the chickens.  The girls were great to have along and had plenty of nearby grounds to explore.  The property is  really beautiful with lots of seating areas in the shade and surrounded by vineyards full of grapes.  We have asked a 2013 Chardonnay, 2013 Zinfandel, 2012 Merlot and 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

Landscape at Frog's Leap


Our next destination was Cakebread Cellars also in Rutherford whose wines my brother and his wife have enjoyed in the past. With the temperatures still in the 90’s our dog Nellie was befriended by Sean Hubbard, the Visitor Center Manager and got the VIP treatment receiving a bowl of water  and even enjoyed a nice stay in his air conditioned office while we toured and tasted. Our “tour guide” was Una who had a great Scottish accent and was very knowledgeable and sweet.  We got to taste with a nice small group of people and Una made it a really fun experience.

Sean at Cakebread Winery with our dog Nellie.                                          Una at Cakebread Winery pouring wine.

Our first day was crowned with a quintessential wine country dinner experience at friends of my brother and his wife on their property. I’m talking about the kind of dinner around a great big farm table with great wine, amazing food and memorable conversation and lots of laughter under the stars and surrounded by vineyards and giant oak trees.

Farm table at Sonoma dinner

We spent our last day in Sonoma starting at the beautiful and historic Sebastiani winery. We were greeted by a friendly woman at the door who introduced herself and pointed us in the direction of an open space at the bar with Sam. Sam was also very friendly and we had a great time tasting the delicious wines with her. The winery is one of a kind with wood carvings and great wood everywhere.
Wood carvings of wine calendar at Sebastian Winery in Sonoma

Sebastiani winery is a great place to visit for many reasons…the wines, the people, the property and the history!

We finished our day in Sonoma enjoying the amazing views at Ravenswood Winery.   We sat at a table perched up on a flat area just outside the tasting room with just enough shade to block the hot sun and a great view of the hills and vineyards.  We shared a couple of delicious charcuterie and cheese plates which even included a little pate.  Ravenswood Winery is a great place to find a nice selection of Zinfandels.  We are big fans of the Paso Robles Zinfandels so it was nice to try some from a different area.

Ravenswood Winery wine glass with view of vineyards in Sonoma in the background

Our visit to Napa and Sonoma was short, sweet and quite memorable and we look forward to returning again soon!  Let us know what your favorite winery or winery experience in Napa and/or Sonoma was.



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