Are you a couple planning a wine-tasting trip to Sonoma & Napa Valley California?! Then you are in the right place! Whether you are on your honeymoon or celebrating your wedding anniversary, Rich & Kitch - your luxury travel advisors - have the perfect itinerary for your trip to Northern California wine country!
There is no shortage of amazing wineries to try during your trip to Northern California, but here is a list of our favorites so far!
Buehler Vineyards in St. Helena, California was by far the best wine-tasting experience we had on the trip. Buehler is a family-run winery & you can tell in the best way. Jonathan, the 3rd generation in the family, led our wine tasting & it was amazing. He gave us a tour of the property & explained how they make wine which was great to learn about. We tasted 6 Buehler wines including chardonnay, red zinfandel, 3 different cabernet sauvignons, & finished with a white zinfandel dessert wine. Everything we tried was delicious!
After our wine tasting (which was over 2 hours long), Jonathan continued his amazing hospitality by allowing us to eat on the porch of his grandfather’s old house. It is located on the property overlooking Lake Hennessey & the view is absolutely stunning. Enjoying the lunch that we packed with our Buehler wine was the perfect ending to our tasting! Of course, we had to say hi to the farm animals, too, lol!
A private tasting & vineyard tour was everything I dreamed of before visiting Northern California wine country & Buehler was the only one that lived up to my expectations! The only downside to this vineyard is that it is very high up the mountain on a narrow road, but this didn’t bother us & the wine-tasting experience was totally worth it. Buehler is going to be a winery we visit every time we go back to wine country & we can’t recommend it enough. Even though in our opinion this winery is a best-kept secret, but it was just too good not to share with you!
Buehler is located near Auberge du Soleil which is an amazing resort for a destination wedding. As luxury travel advisors, it is also a resort where we can get you extra perks if you book your honeymoon or anniversary trip with us! Contact us here if you are interested in staying at this luxury resort!
Gary Farrell located in Healdsburg, California, offers an amazing wine tasting experience & had some of the best wines we tasted on our trip. We were greeted with a tasting when we walked in & got to choose between a Chardonnay or Rosé of Pinot Noir which was a nice touch! Richie got the Chardonnay & I got the Rosé, but the perks of wine tasting as a couple is that we got to try each other's & both were delicious! During the tasting, we had 2 chardonnays & 3 pinot noirs, which are the most common wines in this region. The tasting also had an amazing cheese pairing which helps to cut acidity out of the wine! We really loved how this tasting was done since they did “side by side” pours so you could compare the wines against each other instead of tasting one wine after the other which is most common. Also here we learned that when you are using the same wine glass & switching from white wine to red wine, pour some red wine in your glass to rinse it out instead of water!
During our tasting, we enjoyed sitting outside on their patio & got to soak in the amazing mountain views. The tasting was upscale yet casual, which was the perfect vibe when you are drinking wine at 10:30am lol! The more tastings we did, the more we realized that who you have leading your wine tasting makes a big difference. At Gary Farrell, we were lucky enough to have Ellen give us an amazing wine-tasting experience, & we can’t wait to come back next time!
Visiting Chateau St. Jean was not a planned tasting, but we are so lucky to have found this winery - it is absolutely beautiful! We stumbled upon this Chateau as we were looking for a place to stop between wine tastings we had scheduled. Shout out to Richie for finding this one in the car with the mindset of “what would my wife like” as he was searching on Google Maps lol! This winery allows walk-ins, so we waltzed into their tasting room & purchased of bottle of Pinot Blanc. They provided us with a wine opener & glasses, & we headed outside to enjoy the bottle in their beautiful garden. We were so impressed & can’t wait to schedule a formal wine tasting for next time!
If you are thinking about having a destination wedding in Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean is the perfect venue! Contact us here if you are interested in getting married in Northern California wine country.
Schramsberg in Calistoga, California is the 2nd oldest winery in Napa & they are known for their sparkling wines which did not disappoint. Our visit started with a cave tour to learn about how sparkling wine was made which was very cool. We learned that “Methode Traditionnelle” means they use the French technique of making champagne & apply it to their sparkling wine. Rich & Kitch are big champagne lovers, but since true champagne can only be made in France, this method of sparkling wine-making is officially a close second to champagne & we’re obsessed. After the tour, we had our tasting in the cave & got to taste 5 of Schramsberg’s sparkling wines including J Schram Blanc, a Brut Rosé, 2 Blanc de Noirs (1 was an extra brut), & a Blanc de Blanc. All were delicious!
While tasting all of Schramsberg’s sparkling wines was amazing, we didn’t love that the tasting was done inside the cave since it was super dark & it was a beautiful day outside. We also didn’t love our tour guide, we felt extremely rushed during the tasting (hello champagne head buzz lol) & felt like this experience was a little overpriced/commercialized. We would have loved to have tastings throughout the cave tour to make it feel a little more family-owned. So those critiques kind of put a damper on our experience overall. However, we LOVED learning about sparkling wine, so if you want to see how Schramsberg makes theirs, adding the cave tour to your list is a must.
Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, California, is more of a rustic winery but we loved the laid-back nature of it. We enjoyed tasting outside overlooking the vineyards & their property lined with palm trees, which gave us total Cabo vibes. If you love sparkling wine, adding Iron Horse to your list is a must! The tasting included 4 sparkling wines & the Brut X was our favorite tasting since it has less than 1 gram of residual sugar! We also loved the Ocean Reserve since a portion of every bottle sold goes to helping protect our oceans. If you don’t love sparkling wine as much as we do, Iron Horse is still a great stop since they have a delicious chardonnay & pinot noir tasting, too. Dani led our tasting & she was amazing. It’s funny when we said lived in Cabo half the year, we learned she owns property in Baja, too - small world, right?! Overall, the tasting at Iron Horse was affordable & totally worth it, so we highly recommend it!
The Charles Krug Tasting Room, part of Peter Mondavi Sr.’s Family Estates, was another unplanned but amazing find between scheduled wine tastings. We purchased a bottle of sparkling wine inside of their tasting room and then took it outside to enjoy on their patio. If you couldn’t tell by now, we love sparkling wine, so we enjoyed a bottle of Carolina Bale Blanc de Blancs Methode Traditionnelle. During our visit, we were also lucky enough to meet some of the Mondavi sisters which was such a nice touch! We love family-owned wineries the most & highly recommend visiting the Charles Krug Tasting Room located in St. Helena, California!
St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Santa Rosa, California is a beautiful property. However, this was our least favorite tasting out of this list since the wines were really acidic, their tastings had to be done inside, & the woman we had leading our tasting was very sales-y. However, when we had a chance to take our wine outside to enjoy the view, it definitely made up for the experience as you can see in the photos below! We decided to include this winery on our favorites list since they are known for their food & wine pairings, particularly their five-course fine dining experience. If you love food & wine pairings as much as Rich & Kitch, we would recommend adding St. Francis Winery & Vineyards to your winery list!
Don’t all of these wineries sound amazing?!? As we mentioned earlier though, there is no shortage of wineries to try during your trip to Northern California. We only touched on a few of our favorites, so stay tuned for updates on this blog post after our future trips to wine country!
WINE TASTING RECOMMENDATIONS
When it comes to planning your wine tastings in Sonoma & Napa Valley, this is the schedule we recommend!
10:30am - scheduled tasting # 1
In between, pack your lunch or stop somewhere to eat, then go to a tasting room or a vineyard that allows walk-ins. We recommend buying a bottle of wine to split (if there are a few of you) or simply getting a tasting or glass of wine!
3:30pm - scheduled tasting #2
We thought 2 scheduled tastings were a good amount, so after that head back to your Airbnb to make dinner (& maybe enjoy a bottle of wine you purchased earlier in the day) or find a restaurant near your hotel for dinner.
We recommend going to bed after sunset so you can wake up early for a sunrise run/morning workout before repeating this schedule for another amazing day of wine tasting!
BEST TIME TO VISIT
We think that late August, September, & October are some of the best times for couples to visit Sonoma & Napa Valley for wine tasting! Harvesting grapes usually takes place in September (depending on the weather) so this is the ideal time to visit Northern California wine country! If possible, we also recommend wine tasting during weekdays since it is much less crowded than on the weekends!
WHERE TO STAY
Do you need help deciding where to stay during your trip to Sonoma & Napa Valley California? As luxury travel advisors, we can help book your stay & get you extra perks at many hotels in the area! Please contact us here so we can help you choose the best hotel for your honeymoon, wedding anniversary trip, or any occasion that calls for a trip to wine country!
WINE-TASTING COUPLES ITINERARY FOR SONOMA & NAPA VALLEY
Are you ready for Rich & Kitch to help you plan your couples trip to Sonoma & Napa Valley California?! Simply fill out our form linked below so we start planning the wine-tasting trip of your dreams!