Hey lovelies! I’ve been MIA for a while, but it’s for good reason; I spent the last week in California, with some quality time in Wine Country. I was able to go on a Combo Wine Tour of Napa & Sonoma c/o Green Dream Tours, and I had the time of my life. Disclaimer: Although the tour was sponsored by Green Dream Tours, all opinions are 100% my own.
Larson Family Winery
The first stop on the tour was the Larson Family Winery in Sonoma. Green Dream does a good job of making sure you’re prepared with your own breakfast and coffee before boarding the bus, but honestly, a 45-minute drive is nothing to me as a Floridian, so I didn’t really need anything before embarking on the wine-related journey. Since we visited Larson first thing in the morning, the typical San Francisco fog (who I was told is Instagram famous and is named Karl) was in the way. The tour initially stops at the Golden Gate Bridge first thing in the morning, but it was more like the Golden Grey Bridge to me early on in the day. Larson is known for their ‘Three Lab’ brand, as in Labrador retriever. I got to meet one of the labs at the winery, and he was the sweetest thing! Larson was a nice, small winery with very knowledgeable staff, especially Bob. The wine tasting menu starts off with a really good 2012 Larson Family Brut, moves into the white wines (Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, naturally), and ends with two red wines. I’d have to say my favorite of the wines we tried is the Larson Family Brut, although I did really enjoy a pairing of one of the red wines and chocolate that we did.
The second stop on the Wine Country tour was Nicholson Ranch, and I think I’m going to go ahead and say it was my favorite out of the three wineries visited. The trees in the distance almost look like they’re forming a heart. Once my tour group arrived at Nicholson Ranch, we were reminded about the impact the wildfires had on the Sonoma/Napa area. The area looks pretty good now, from an outside perspective. The wine flight we consumed at Nicholson Ranch included the 2012 Chardonnay – Sonoma Valley with Meyer lemon, pear, and melon notes; the 2012 Chardonnay – Sonoma Coast with citrus, peach, and caramel notes; the 2012 Pinot Noir – Sonoma Valley with cherry, violet, and cinnamon notes; and the 2012 Pinot Noir – Sonoma Coast with cranberry, mushroom, and cedar notes. Before this trip, I wasn’t a huge fan of red wines, but I actually enjoyed the red wines I tasted! I think the 2012 Chardonnay – Sonoma Valley was my favorite.
After Nicholson Ranch, it was time to head to the market for a lunch break. The group ended up at Oxbow Public Market in Napa, where I worked up a great appetite. The market reminded me of similar concepts in NYC and Philadelphia, which I didn’t mind checking out. The views around/outside the market were incredible!
The last winery on the tour was the Andretti Winery in Napa, CA. I didn’t know what to expect from this winery, but it did not disappoint! Racecar driver Mario Andretti is one of the names and faces behind Andretti Winery. We did our wine tasting in the barrel room, which was a pretty unique experience, as we got to learn about how the barrels are used to store wine, the significance of small details on the barrels that make each one unique to the wines being stored. Inside the barrel room, we tasted Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
After our stop in Napa, our tour guide, Dylan, made sure we were able to stop and see the Golden Gate Bridge, which was so sweet of him! My group was able to get a really good view of the bridge on the way back into town, and we had our Full House moment with the theme song playing as we physically went over the bridge. This was the only time during my trip that I got to go to the main photo point for the Golden Gate Bridge, so that was awesome.
At the end of the tour, Dylan was kind enough to drop my friend Ashley and I off close to where we were seeing a movie later that evening. We had such a great time on the tour with about ten other people who were super friendly, and Dylan provided not only comic relief, but a lot of knowledge about San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma for us to take home and tell at cocktail parties (according to him). I can’t recommend the Combo Wine Tour enough! The views were breathtaking, and I have a new found appreciation for red wine. From a science perspective, it was really cool to learn the science behind making and packaging wine; it almost convinced me to seek out a wine lab to intern at. It’s perfect for any occasion – a girls’ trip, honeymoon, or even a family trip. The tour I went on costs $134 and lasts a full day (7.5 to 8.5 hours depending on your group and tour guide), and it’s an experience of a lifetime. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Sonoma and Napa!
To check out more footage of my Combo Wine Tour, check out my first ever YouTube vlog: