One of my favorite things about Wine Country is how different and unique each winery experience is! On a pleasant sunny Saturday some of my friends and I decided to explore from the southern part of the valley north to St. Helena.
First Stop: History at Buena Vista Winery
OK, I know this is technically in Sonoma but when you are looking for a historic winery this is one of the top wineries to stop at. Founded in 1857 by Agoston Haraszthy, the self-proclaimed Count of Buena Vista, Buena Vista is considered California’s first premium winery. Buena Vista today is a tribute to its colorful historic past. Visitors can choose from a variety of experiences from a bar tasting to a blending session. We chose to do the Historic Wine Museum Tour & Tasting. For $25, we experienced a guided twenty-minute visual show about the history of winemaking through its tools and the life of the“Count of Buena Vista. During the tour we also got to taste some of the exclusive current release wines (only sold at Buena Vista) and explore the renovated Champagne Cellars
Second Stop: Bubbles at JCB Tasting Salon Yountville
After our history tour our group was ready to head up valley to Yountville. Yountville has 15 tasting rooms to choose from, each unique in their own way. Our group was in the mood for sparkling wine so we headed to JCB Tasting Salon in the center of town. The minute you walk into the tasting room you know you are in for a treat. Baccarat crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and the couches are covered in leopard print. We settled into the comfy couch and prepared to enjoy a one of a kind tasting. The tasting brings together two worlds of winemaking — Old world and New world. We were able to try sparkling wines made in both California and France! My favorite of the day was the No. 8, a Brut, Cremant de Bourgogne from Burgundy France.
Third Stop: Lunch at Oakville Grocery
After our morning of history and sparkling wine we were ready for lunch! We decided to make the quick trip up highway 29 to Oakville Grocery. The oldest continually run grocery store in California, Oakville Grocery is the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch to refuel for more wine tasting. You can choose from a wide selection of gourmet sandwiches, salads, and side dishes. On nice days, Oakville Grocery fires up the outdoor pizza oven and bbq grill for visitors to enjoy. Everyone decided on a different sandwich. The cold fried chicken, turkey pesto, chicken gruyere, complete with bacon, and the italian muffuletta where among the favorites. We also had to try a couple of the sides because they just looked so good. My favorite were the traditional deviled eggs and the pasta salad. After our lunch we were ready for more wine!
Fourth Stop: Winemaker for a Day at Raymond Vineyards
For the last stop of our wine country day we headed up north to Raymond Vineyards. One of the original wine making families in Napa Valley, Raymond Vineyards has a long history of outstanding wines. Currently, Raymond is considered to be a dynamic destination that invites a full sensory experience. To finish off our day we had booked The Blending Room experience. This experience allowed us to be a “winemaker for a day”. Decked out in silver futuristic lab coats we got to blend our own red wine from Napa’s appellations. Following our blending session we each got to take home a bottle of our own wine, complete with a custom label we had created. An experience unlike any other, The Blending Room was a great way to end our day.
There is no better way to truly explore all the unique things that wine country has to offer than by exploring the valley from south to north!