Friday, May 4, 2012

Napa and Sonoma the King and Queen of Wine

The Rich Snob and the Laid Back Bohemian!!! 

Fun Book!!

In his book A Tale of Two Valleys, Alan Deutschman describes Napa as an “exclusive club” for the super-rich and Sonoma as “colorful free spirits,” a “bohemia,” and while much has changed since he wrote the book in 2003, much has also stayed the same. Through our wine trips, Napa to me has become the expensive wine snob, while Sonoma symbolizes a laid back region where wine is enjoyed with friends. So realize when I write about the two areas that I have a built in prejudice that was formed over our 10 years of traveling to wine country. With that in mind, here's my quick take on going to the two premier wine areas in the US.   


Napa The Wine Country King!
Napa is the reigning King of the US wine regions. It’s where everyone thinks they should go for wine tasting. And make no mistake, their wine is excellent, probably some of the best in the world. It’s also very expensive compared to most of the other wine areas.

At most wineries in Napa, the minimum price for one of the wines being tasted is around $30.00. And unlike most of the other areas, if they say they’re tasting four wines, then that's all they're tasting. In the other wine regions, wineries will often pull out more wines for you to taste if they realize you know wine and you’re really going to purchase some on your visit.

Monticello Was Very Snobby!! 
 Also be prepared: many of Napa's wineries are more uptight, formal...just plan snobby! In fact we once left a winery because they were just too hard to take for our small group of Texans.

Auberage deSoleil Restaurant!!!
But if you must go, and I guess everyone should go once, then understand that you need to take the road less traveled! The Silverado Trail is a hilly road going the length of Napa that’s lined with smaller wineries and vineyards all across its hills. And I have to admit, it’s probably one of the coolest wine roads to drive in all of California.

The Silverado Trail is also a much prettier and more relaxing drive than Napa’s other road, highway 29. In fact, stay off 29 if at all possible. But if you must venture onto the wine highway from hell, to see a favorite winery, than make sure you plan your entrance and escape routes, otherwise you'll be stuck in its bumper to bumper traffic for hours.

Laid Back & A Little Quirky!
If Napa is the King, than Sonoma is the Queen of the wine regions. A bohemian queen but a queen never the less. And it may be our favorite because we always seem to end up back there every few years. And I really do like its more laid back feel. Unfortunately that has changed some through the years, especially since more and more wineries are no longer family owned. But still the feel of Sonoma is friendly and quirky enough to make it a must go to wine region, and their wines are every bit as good as Napa’s. But they’re not as pricy as the wines of Napa, which is a very good thing!

Touring The Benziger Vineyards!! 
Sonoma is also more spread out than Napa with different wine areas throughout the county. They all have their own special types of wines and varying landscapes. So the best way to see Sonoma is really breaking it up into different trips if possible.   

If you look at a wine map of Sonoma you’ll realize that the wineries are clustered close to two cities, Sonoma and Healdsburg. We have never stayed in Sonoma, but a lot of my favorite wineries are around the Sonoma, Glen Ellen and Kenwood area. More than enough for one trip...I promise!

Our Favorite Restaurant!!!
Santa Rosa is the largest city in the county and fairly central and  close to areas like the Russian River Valley. And there are a lot of great wineries between Sonoma and Santa Rosa. Make sure to take highway 12, the Sonoma Highway, between the two cities because parts of it rival the Silverado Trail. And our favorite restaurant, Café Citti, is on that great road in Kenwood!   

Healdsburg and nearby Windsor are both cities where we've stayed. They’re surrounded by wineries and are also easy drives to the wineries around Geyserville. And there are some nice wineries between Healdsburg and Geyserville. In fact this year we are staying on the grounds of a winery just outside of Geyserville, and I am looking forward to grilling out and drinking wines on the patio surrounded by the vineyard.



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1 comment:

  1. We went to several wineries in Sonoma during our honeymoon and had lunch in Healdsburg. Beautiful! I'm ready to go back. T.