a day trip to wine country | napa & sonoma, california

one of the things on our bay area bucket list for our recent trip to san francisco was to make it out to wine country.  however, since our trip was going to be pretty quick (fly in to sfo saturday afternoon, fly back home to minnesota first thing tuesday morning) we really struggled with whether we’d be able to spend the time we wanted to in san francisco & also make the trip up to napa. a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

after doing some research on trip advisor, i was so happy to learn that there are actually many shuttle services from san fan to wine country that will arrange an entire itinerary for a day trip to napa or sonoma (or both!).  these wine tour companies fall all over the spectrum between bare-bones group shuttle to the kind of super-swanky & super-intimate helicopter ride that you’d see as a one-on-one date on the bachelor

we opted for a shuttle service that fell somewhere in the middle, courtesy of napa valley wine country tours.  after an amazing day seeing the sights (& tasting the wine) with literally zero planning or driving required on our part, i couldn’t imagine a more effortless way to do a quick visit to napa. 

for just $99 each, we got an 8-hour round trip to both napa & sonoma during which we had a great time socializing with the other couples on the tour with us, we visited 4 wineries without doing a lick of research on our own, & we were fed a continental breakfast& the cutest picnic-style lunch.   

i wouldn’t suggest doing a trip to napa any other way for anyone trying to make a quick trip to the bay area & squeeze in all the sights to see. a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

the shuttle picked us up at about 8:30 near union square (which is also conveniently located very close to most of the hotels in san fran) & greeted us with bottomless mimosas & a breakfast of croissants, cheese, & fruit for the 45-minute trip up to wine country (because clearly they know the way straight to the center of my heart).

of the 4 wineries we spent time in, the 2 sonoma wineries were by far my favorite.  maybe it’s the midwest in me, but sonoma had a laid-back vibe that’s more my style; napa felt very showy. 

or maybe i’m just biased because one of these sonoma wineries was the larson family winery. a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

the larson family winery, aside from sharing my married last name, feels more like an elegant ranch than a winery.  their wines were deliciously abundant throughout the tasting session.  a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbuttera day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

PLUS, several of the larson family dogs roamed around, nuzzling up to whoever would offer them a good tummy scratch. a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

yes.  PUPPIES.  and WINE.  you guys.  i can’t even.  the larson family winery is heaven.  as such, we brought home with us a bottle of their 3 lab cab, a decently mild cabernet with dark cherry notes.  (& dogs on the label.)
a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

while the larson family winery had the unfair advantage of dogs, our favorite winery of the day was jacuzzi family vinyards, also in sonoma county. a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbuttera day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

as a die-hard lover of italian wines (due to my wine training in my time serving at a pretty legit italian restaurant in milwaukee), i was so surprised to find real-deal italian-style wine in california.  each of the wines offered in the ample tasting menu was better than the next.  

we had plenty of time to enjoy our last tasting glass together while wandering around in their picturesque courtyard, which with its european architecture & fountains, looks like it was transplanted straight out of the italian countryside into sonoma.  a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbuttera day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbuttera day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

as we left wine country, we already felt eager to return.  our next trip to the bay area is definitely going to have to be longer than 2 days!  there’s so much more to explore in the city & now that we’re a little more familiar with the lay of the land, i’d love to go back and do a b&b type stay in sonoma.  

so i’d love to know: have you visited sonoma or napa?  did you do a tour?  where did you stay?  what wineries & vinyards did you love?  let me know in the comments below – i would LOVE to chat!

a day trip to wine country - napa & sonoma via playswellwithbutter

4 Comments

  1. STAHHHP. I visited the exact same wineries (Larson & Jacuzzi) when I visited my sister in San Fran a few years ago! And now after seeing your pictures I’m dying to go back. Glad you had fun!!

  2. Wait your photos are BEAUTIFUL. So can we all arrange a wine and foodie tour and I’ll fly out to see ya?! Haha

    • aw, allie, you make my day! and i LOOOOOOOOOOVE super love LOVE LOVE the idea to do a wine & foodie get-together. i think we’re gonna have to figure out some time in 2017 to make it happen.

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