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To Love And Wine

A Napa And Sonoma Throwback

America’s most eligible bachelor – as far as I am concerned – is officially off the market (aside from Brad, of course!). As a die-hard New York Yankees fan, I grew up watching, admiring, and sweating over Derek Jeter. This past weekend, he was married in the serenely beautiful Napa Valley. To help navigate through this difficult time, I will relive the first trip (of hopefully many!) Brad and I took to Wine Country two years ago.

It’s Throwback Thursday…

Our trip began with visits to Viansa and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards (why waste any time!) before heading to the Inn at Sonoma, a quaint bed and breakfast only a short, two-block stroll from historic Sonoma Plaza. We enjoyed the laid-back vibe and quiet evenings on the Inn porch sipping wine from our vineyard stops. Each morning, the breakfast buffet featured a delicious fresh baked quiche, only topped by daily fresh baked cookies – the kitchen even shares all their recipes!

We spent our first full day touring the Sonoma Valley. Starting at Jordan, the grand estate property boasted a high-end experience for their private Library Tasting. The gourmet tasting paired current and vintage Jordan wines with their very own estate olive oil, local cheeses, and hors d'oeuvre style bites prepared by their chef. We love the Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, sold locally.

After a quick tasting in “The Castle” at Ledson, we headed to VJB Vineyards and Cellars. Their Piazza Tasting was a relaxing time in an Italian-inspired outdoor setting. It was a great opportunity to grab lunch from one of their three in-house offerings – we chose Red Rooster Pizza, and surely were not disappointed in the food nor wine. Before leaving, we became VJB Wine Club members.

Our last stop in Sonoma was Benziger Family Winery. The Partners Vineyard Tour and Exclusive Wine Tasting was unbeatable. It provided a behind-the-scenes look at their intricate biodynamic vineyard, where every wine produced carries a third-party certification of green farming practices. The tour finished in their wine caves with a tasting straight out of the barrel, then the bottle. Falling in love with Benziger red wines and eco-friendly practices, we joined their Wine Club. Their Oonapais, with dark cocoa aromas and fruity notes is to die for.

"Wine adds a smile to friendship and a spark to love."

-Edmondo de Amicis

On day three we headed to the Napa Valley. Beginning at Shafer, situated between the mountains with remarkable horizon views, we experienced another high-end tasting. We even had the opportunity to meet the winemaker, Doug Shafer, whose father John is the owner. Our Shafer favorite is Hillside Select, and it can be purchased locally – currently saving our bottle for a special occasion!

A brief rain shower led us to Cakebread Cellars before arriving at Frog’s Leap. The Signature Seating Tasting took us through a flight of four current releases from the comfort of a private table on the back porch of The Vineyard House. Our Wine Specialist happened to originally be from Baltimore – small world! After the tasting, we took a wine-in-hand walk through their peaceful gardens and vineyard before making our way to our final stop.

Viader is a private estate vineyard and winery sitting high atop Howell Mountain. The intimate setting for their Portfolio Tasting gave us a chance to try exclusive selections, and take in phenomenal outdoor views. We ventured out on the terrace to get a closer look, and catch a glimpse of other produce being grown for use by their executive chef – most notably, the peach trees.

Our trip was not complete without plenty of good eats and treats…

Cuteness overload in the town of Yountville. Art is big, with installations throughout the landscape. A fresh cup of coffee from a shop in the caboose of a train, paired with a sweet treat from Bouchon Bakery was a must. Known as the “Culinary Capital” of Napa Valley, we definitely hope to spend more time there on our next trip. We had lunch in the city of St. Helena at Goose and Gander public house. We took a wine detour and tried a couple of their fabulous custom cocktails.

Oxbow Public Market is a neat place to visit in downtown Napa. It is full of local food vendors, artisan goods, and an organic produce outlet for local farms. Of course, we could not resist Kara’s Cupcakes…washed down with a glass of wine.

Well, I am ready for another trip to Wine Country with my main squeeze! And I have completely forgotten about Derek Jeter…kinda.

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