Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Touring California Wine Country

Sonoma wine vineyards
Bob and I both love wine (especially reds), so during our 2010 trip we made sure to stop in California wine country. We stayed in the San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA for a week because it was close to Sonoma, Napa, and San Francisco. We were somewhat disappointed with the KOA. Our campsite seemed a little cramped, and although the KOA has a large swimming pool and spa, it was so noisy and crowded that it detracted from our enjoyment of the facilities. We were there in June, and probably a better time would be in the spring or fall when there are less vacationers.

We weren't disappointed with the wine tour, though. On the first day, we started our self-guided tour with one of our favorite wineries – Clos Du Bois. We arrived there early – around 11:00, and we were the only ones there. The highlight of that tour was a tasting straight out of the barrel of an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that would be released in 2011. Our favorite from that tasting was an Old Vine Zinfandel -which we bought - as well as a few other choice selections. We followed that by going to another of our favorites – Rodney Strong. We got a great tour of their winery, and bought some bottles of our favorites from them – a Cabernet Sauvignon, Chalk Hill Chardonnay, and a Pinot Noir.

Rodney Strong Winery
Clos Du Bois Winery
The most fun we had though was finding the small boutique wineries in the area. One of our favorites was Pedroncelli Winery. They offered some great bottles in their free tastings, and even let our dog come into their tasting room. What more could your ask? Another great find was Muscardini Cellars which also offered a free tasting. We joined their wine club because we were so enthusiastic about their wonderful Sangiovese.

One of the important things to remember when doing a wine tasting is the importance of spitting out the wine, no matter how tempting it may be to guzzle it all.  You would never make it through the day if you drank all that each winery gives you without getting a pretty good load on.  Choose to actually drink only the very best, and spit out the rest.

Pedroncelli Winery

We spent another day in Napa, and just the drive was a treat. This is beautiful country, with rolling hills and vineyards everywhere. Our stops there included BV, Robert Mondavi and Kendall Jackson. We were charged for all of the tastings here, and we thought that BV, although offering a great selection, charged too much at $15.00/tasting. All of these wineries are beautiful, however, and well worth visiting.

Vineyards at Robert Mondavi Winery

We made two non-wine related trips while we were in the area. The campground offered a tour of San Francisco, so we thought we'd take advantage of it rather than deal with the hassle of driving to the city. Our tour guide was great, and we had a wonderful full day of touring the city with stops at the Golden Gate Bridge, the Golden Gate Park, lunch on the waterfront, Chinatown, and even a trolley ride. Lots of fun!

Cable Car Ride in San Francisco
Japanese Gardens at Golden Gate Park
A Foggy Golden Gate Bridge

We also took a day to drive to Point Reyes National Seashore. It was a foggy, cool and windy day, which contributed to the wild feeling that this park has.

Pounding Surf at Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore

We left wine country with the trailer much heavier from the weight of the great bottles of wine that we purchased, but with out wallets much lighter. However, the whole experience left us wanting to return. The next time we'll be sure to stop in the Pasco Robles area – they have some great wines there.


  1. its really very nice post to read and am really thankful to you give me such awesome idea to spend with my friends ......
    Paso Robles wines

  2. It's been a long time since I've visited a winery. Now I want to go to one soon! :)
    wine tours