The New Orleans crew, dog included (well traveled dog!) had already booked this California trip before we booked that New Orleans trip I believe! Destination: wine country!
As a prelude I will say that I really had to idea what to expect from this trip! I had never been to California before. I did not know what the terrain was like, what the weather was like, and I used to be fairly non-discriminate in my wine drinking! I came back very impressed with this area of California and somewhat a wine snob!
We landed in San Francisco later in the evening and got a start the following day! We spent the next two days in the immediate San Francisco area. I had never been to San Fran and never to California either. The nice parts of the city were definitely nice and it was definitely HILLY. We rented bikes and biked around the north shoreline from the piers and out to the Golden Gate Bridge. I do not believe many people know there is a fort under the bridge that is a national historical park. The basically built the bridge over it…kinda neat! Beautiful sights of the city from that area. We then biked over the bridge. It’s longer than I thought! And lot of people running/walking/biking. Cool experience for sure! We continued over the bridge biked down into Sausalito. This is a really neat looking town! It reminded me of towns you would see in Greece or Italy with the way the houses were built into the hills. The great thing about the biking excursion was that you could ferry the bikes back across the bay, so doing the biking and the ferry past the bridge and Alcatraz all in one! That evening we stopped by and visited some supposedly famous San Francisco Bar called the Tonga Room…a place that seems…like it shouldn’t be successful, or even popular. It’s like a kitschy ass older folks place with a young crowd and a big barge in the middle of a swimming pool with a live band? I dunno, weird.
So the next day we got into our rental truck and headed north, over the bridge and out of the city back to Sausalito. Such a pretty spot! And we wanted to take the dog there and get a nice lunch! Afterword we headed up the road to Santa Rosa, our home base for the next several days.
Our AirBNB was in a really neat, quiet spot kinda at the bottom of a large hill/small mountain, it was probably good that we had a truck for getting up and down the road the house was on! And, the best part? It was conveniently only about 1 mile from a really nice winery with killer views and pretty lavender fields! To clarify, Santa Rosa is in Sonoma County. Wineries could open at 10 but they had to close by 6, I think, and you could buy wind by the glass and drink on the property in Sonoma, which was not something you could easily do in Napa as we found out later.
Santa Rosa is also home to a world renown brewery called Russian River Brewery, named after the area close by where there are also lots of vineyards. So, we definitely had to check out that scene!
In addition to visiting wineries in Sonoma County, we also ventured off into Napa County next door, and down to Napa proper. But, it was quite irritatingly different! Apparently there was an old law in place for older wineries and a new law in place for newer wineries that dictated whether or not a winery could sell a person wine by the glass to be consumed on the property. You could spend a fortune buying a whole bottle of course, or spend for a proper wine tasting event (which we did a couple times) but if you wanted one glass of that wine you just tasted and liked, you might not be able to. Lame! Sonoma county had no such laws, so Sonoma became the preferred spot!
In addition to lots of winery stuff we also took a really cool hot air balloon flight over the Sonoma area!
On our way back to to the airport we made a stop at nearby Muir Woods National Monument. Super large redwoods! Surprising that it is just right outside of the city! Protip: the drive down hill to this spot is intense also.
Overall impressions: Pros: Lots of close alcohol access 🙂 Great scenery, much better than I expected. The balloon trip was super cool if not a bit pricey! Cons: Not really any. Getting around San Francisco was a little annoying and time consuming and I would say that was the only gripe, and they only affected the first day and a half or so of the trip.
The Adventurer Final Word:
Five Stars! Highly enjoyed this trip! Very relaxing, beautiful, and great wine!