Pop quiz time: when you arrive in California wine country and you find yourself surrounded by world renowned vineyards and critically acclaimed restaurants, what’s the first thing you do?
Spend the evening in a craft brew pub, of course! At least, that’s what we do…especially when said craft brew pub is the award winning Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa!
Credited with inventing the double IPA style beer and home to an array of unique, barrel aged, and sour brews, RRBC was *destination* brewpub for two craft beer geeks like us.
Ok, so maybe just a craft beer geek like me and a loving wife who happily agreed to tag along 🙂
The beer was hype-worthy…
…the food was beyond expectation…
(We ordered two personal pizzas, thinking we’d have enough for leftovers. Nope!)
…and our tasting flight was the most extensive and diverse I’ve ever seen.
Those elongated displays used for serving the tasting flights makes it look like a lot more beer than there really was, honestly.
Either that, or I have gigantic hands.
♦ ♦ ♦
Don’t worry, oenophiles…the next day was full of everything you’d expect from a trip to Napa Valley. Our morning started with an in-depth tour and tasting at Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford.
Here we learned all about the intricate process of wine-making, from the vine…
…to the bottle…
…and everything else in between!
Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable…someone who has likely forgotten more about wine than either of us have ever known.
From their sustainable approach to farming the land, to creating wines that please every day consumers rather than magazine critics, Missy and I found that Frog’s Leap was the perfect place to begin our education.
Of course it didn’t hurt that the vineyards (a year-round, working organic farm)…
(The Wine Company // Source)
…and tasting house (straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalogue)…
…were places that we could easily spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring.
However, since they didn’t allow outside food on the premise (we asked, but apparently you need a separate permit for that sort of thing), we moved on to grab some lunch.
By the time we arrived at Oakville Grocery (the quintessential spot for grabbing all your picnic needs), it was almost 1:00PM. So we grabbed all the necessities…bread, meats, cheeses, bruschetta, and preserves…and made our way to the next winery on our list (that does allow picnics): Sequoia Grove.
We bought a bottle of the house Sauvignon Blanc and unpacked our spread under a few massive sequoia trees and began our lunch.
The sun was shining (70 degrees!), the view was spectacular, and despite being on the main Napa Valley drag, we were set far enough off the highway that road noise wasn’t an issue. It was, in every sense of the word, perfect.
And then, a funny thing happened:
Whether it was good timing or just luck, Miss & I practically had the entire winery to ourselves. The picnic area had only three couples/groups (including us) and the tasting room was empty…so the ladies working the counter started making rounds outside with more wine!
That’s right: table side service…for free. I’m not kidding, I even tried to bus our glasses (we had bought the white for our picnic, they were pouring reds) but I was told to “just hang on to them” in case they come around again.
I had more tastings lined up that afternoon, but with the free wine flowing…we couldn’t just leave! Even as we finished our three hour “lunch” to tour the property and walk through vineyards on our own, she topped us off yet again.
I’m not sure if things like this happens everywhere in wine country, or we were just fortunate to end up at a small winery on a slow day, but by the time we were though, we each had a full tasting flight…again, at no extra cost.
Clearly, we didn’t mind.
By the time we made it back to our hotel, the sun had set behind the Mayacamas Mountains; our afternoon picnic in Napa turned into an all-day affair.
At that point, dinner was just an afterthought. Even though we convinced ourselves later in the evening to drag ourselves out of our hotel room for a visit to Oxbow Public Market…
…we could not fit another ounce of food or wine into our bellies.
But with our return flight back home the following day…with the 20 degree temps and early season snow that came with it…our over-indulgence in wine country was totally worth the splurge.