Everyone knows that San Francisco is an amazing city, full of culture, natural beauty, and great food. But many people go to San Francisco and miss the opportunity to taste some of the country’s greatest wines, just a stone’s throw away in the Carneros wine region. In less than an hour you can be sipping a fine sparkling wine, Pinot Noir, or Chardonnay while breathing in fresh, country air and feasting your eyes on never ending hills and vineyards.
Here are a few suggestions on where to sample California's finest:
If you are looking for grand, there are few grander estates in the Napa Valley than Domaine Carneros. This manor on a hill offers tableside tasting service as well as several tours daily. Though a teensy bit touristy, I am still glad we visited as their bubbly is top notch, and the architecture is something out of the French countryside.
For a completely different feel, cross the street. Cuvaison’s Carneros tasting room is in a sleek, modern, and certified green building. Their “S Block” Chardonnay is to die for, as are the tableside tasting and the views of the surrounding valley. Sit back in the sun, sip, and listen as Cuvaison’s friendly staff shares their wines with you.
By this point, you are probably hungry. My pick for a Carneros lunch or dinner? The restaurants at The Carneros Inn, just across from Domaine Carneros. Everything really is a lot closer than it seems on the map!
Our favorite place to stop on the way back to San Francisco is always Gloria Ferrer. One last glimpse of Sonoma’s beautiful rolling hills and spread out fields and vineyards, and a celebratory glass of bubbly will have you dreaming of Sonoma for months to come. I recommend the Va de Vi, and be sure to have a sparkling wine-filled chocolate while you are there.
After a day in the sun, you will no doubt be tired when you return to San Francisco, but it will be well worth it, and you will have spent less time driving than some people do on a daily basis for work. Kick back and relax, maybe even with a bottle of bubbly purchased on your journey.
If you're still deciding where to stay in San Francisco, why not turn your trip into a culinary adventure and stay at the Westin St. Francis, home of the acclaimed Michael Mina Restaurant? You are, after all, heading to one of the best foodie cities in the country.
--Meghan Malloy of TravelEatLove.com
[Photos credits: Meghan Malloy]