{Travel} Wine Country Part 1

So this has been a bit of a difficult post to write.  A few weeks ago, J & I were fortunate enough to spend 2 days in San Francisco (catch up here) & 3 amazingly beautiful & peaceful days in the Napa Valley & Sonoma before the disastrous fires broke out.  I was so excited to share the wineries we toured & food we ate, but after seeing & learning about all the devastation, it seemed a bit frivolous to post about our trip.

After mulling it over for a few days, I decided to go ahead with my original post because we had such a wonderful time, I want everyone to see what an incredibly special place the wine country truly is.  Everyone we met was so kind & so genuinely proud of what they do, it would be a disservice to the people we met, not to share about our fabulous trip. But instead of just simply posting, I'd like to bring a little awareness to some organizations that are seeking help.   Please check out this list of places looking for aid & consider making a donation. Every little bit helps.

It's important to note, all the wineries mentioned in this post & the post tomorrow are currently closed due to the fires. So if you're planning to visit any time soon, please double check the wineries are open!
OK, let's get to it.  We stayed at Hotel Yountville in, well, Yountville.  The hotel was absolutely lovely. It was exactly what you'd expect & want in wine country while being walking distance from town.  These photos do NOT do it justice. Really, just go to the website.
When we left San Francisco, we headed straight for Gott's Roadside in St. Helena.  A staple in wine country, these burgers were SO GOOD & perfect after our trip out of the city.
After we were completely stuffed, we headed over to Round Pond Estate where we had scheduled an olive oil tasting.  We arrived a bit early, so we took advantage of their tasting room & tried some of the wines while enjoying the stunning views.

After the wine tasting, we headed across the street to where the olive oil is made & tasted.  We chose the Mill Tasting experience which included some delicious small bites handcrafted by their insanely talented chef. This was definitely one of the more unique experiences I've had when it comes to olive oil!
First we tasted 4 different oils in the blue jars. Then we moved on to food. Each tiny bite used a different oil. 
Course 1: Burrata with tomatoes, a smoked salmon popsicle & a piece of watermelon & goat cheese. Before you even ask, nope, I don't remember what oil we paired with each treat.
Course 2:   We moved on to 2 different vinegars & tasted them in an incredibly unique way. First, we dipped a sugar cube in the vinegar & quickly sucked the vinegar out before the sugar cube imploded...which does happen.  Then we dipped prosciutto wrapped greens & a little sausage bite in the vinegar for a different type of taste.
Course 3: This was the best of all...desserts!  The sad thing though, they were all so good I don't even remember what we ate.  Clearly there is a fig & there was a lemon custard situation, but does it even matter? Everything below was just delicious.
Tip: If you want to do an olive oil tasting, make a reservation.  The experience is so unique, there were only 4 of us in our tasting & they only do a few tastings each day. So book ahead! If you want to just hit the wine tasting terrace, you don't really need a reservation there.
After finishing up our tasting, we decided to head back over to Yountville & explore the tiny little town.
One of the local jaunts Yountville is known for is Kollar Chocolates. Quite possibly the prettiest little chocolates I've ever seen, I almost felt bad eating them!
For dinner, we went to Bottega in downtown Yountville. Owned by chef, vintner, sustainable farmer, author, & Emmy winning TV host Michael Chirello; let's just say everything we ate basically melted in our mouths. 
Tip: Make a reservation! On a Sunday night, this place was packed. I can only imagine what a Saturday or Friday night would be like.
Chef Chirello's vision of ravioli...heaven. Pure heaven. (Yes, that's an egg in there)
We might have closed down the patio...
On Monday, we began the day hitting the infamous Bouchon Bakery. Any blog, pin, review, website etc. you read about Napa, this bakery is mentioned. We wanted a quite bite before hitting our first tasting, so what sounds better than pastries & coffee?!
Our first tasting of the day was at  Sterling Vineyards. We decided to do the Silver Experience which included a sit down tasting paired with meats & cheeses.  But first, in order to get to the tasting rooms (yes, rooms), we had to take an aerial tram up the side of a giant hill. Seriously, the viewes... 
Once we got to the top, we started with a quick tasting on their lower level.   The staff was so friendly & welcomed us with an extra pour or two. 
Then we headed upstairs to our sit-down tasting on their private outdoor terrace where we tried 4 different select wines paired with the most INSANE cheeses & sliced meats.  Our wine conniseaur Kenny Rogers (yes, that was his name) was SO kind & after I told him I really enjoyed the Chardonnay, he went in back & brought out a reserve Chardonnay that wasn't technically part of our tasting, but he insisted I try it. It was by far the best white wine I've ever had.  But in addition to the wine,  the Prairie Breeze White Cheddar from the Milton Creamery...LIFE CHANGING. Like so life changing I bought cheese off their website. I've never bought cheese off the internet before, but it had to be done.  
After the tasting, we took a self-guided tour of the winery & estate which included 3 more tastings as we traveled throughout the estate. So if you do that math, we were up to somewhere between 8-10 tastings each. 
Harvesting! It seriously smelled so good.
The tour ended on their STUNNING patio where more wine & cheese were available for purchase.
I did NOT want our time at Sterling to end, but we had another tasting we had to get to.
Tip: If you want to do one of the seated tastings, you need to make a reservation in advanced. If you want to just hit their terrace via the tram & take in the incredible views while enjoying a glass of wine & some ridiculous cheeses, no reservation needed!
Up next we headed to the 2nd oldest winery in Napa, Schramsberg Vineyards.  Known for their sparkling wines stored in caves, we had to choose the Cave Tours & Tastings.  We got a tour of their caves where they store up to 2 million bottles at one time. I mean, there were bottles everywhere we looked!
Then we did a seated tasting back in their tasting room where we got to sample 4 different types of bubbles as well as a cabernet because why not?
For dinner, we headed to local Yountville restaurant, Brix.  They're known for their patio & views of their garden, but by the time we got there, it was pretty dark. All of the greens & vegetables served with dinner are grown in their own garden!
 Of course I forgot to take pictures of our actual meal, so instead you just get us & not even at the restaurant, but at our hotel before going out. We had fish & steak. Delicious.

OK, that's it for the first two days of our trip. Tune in tomorrow for the  our last day of the trip when we traveled to Sonoma.


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