Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Napa Valley

Napa Valley is one of our favorite locations in California, probably because we love wine, nature and great food. Since moving to California a year ago we have visited Napa Valley three times.

Napa is quite the hike from Edwards, AFB. The drive typically takes about 6 hours if you take I-5, so its best to do this trip when you have a long weekend.

We typically take advantage of Travis, AFB being so close to Napa and stay on base. If, however, you want to stay somewhere other than base there are a ton of hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in the area.

Our favorite part of visiting Napa is visiting the vineyards and learning about wine making. Here are some of our favorite vineyards to visit:

Elizabeth Spencer Wines: My parents introduced us to Elizabeth Spencer and we stop in every time we are in Napa. Located in Rutherford, their tasting room is in the old post office building. The wine is good, the people are nice, we just love it here.

Rombauer Vineyards: We were introduced to Rombauer by our marriage preparation couple in Atlanta. We were in Napa with good friends who love Rombauer wines and just had to stop by. The wines are great and the property is beautiful.

Sterling Vineyards: We recommended this vineyard to our friends with children. While we love sterling wines, we can't get over the view from the vineyard. A tram takes you up the mountain to this vineyard where your admission also gets you a self guided tour of the winemaking process. Then enjoy a tasting in their tasting room or outside on the patio.

Rocca Family Vineyards: We initially wandered into this small tasting room in the city of Napa because it was open later than the other vineyards. We stayed because their red wines were amazing and the owner Mary Rocca was fascinating. It turns out she knows the same priest from Note Dame (who happens to also be named Rocca) that we knew from our Notre Dame days. We always return to this little tasting room for a glass of the Bad Boy Red.

If wine tasting isn't your thing there are lots of other fun things to do in Napa. We went with Napa Valley Balloons for a stunning view of the valley as the sun comes up. The highlight of our ballooning trip was trying to set the balloon down on a sunflower lined road. Equally as thrilling is the Old Faithful Geyser of California. Don't be put off by the hokey, 1950's feel of this attraction - the geyser literally went off every 8 times while we were there. Kids will love the llamas, sheep and fainting goats. If you need to walk off some of that wine you've been drinking there is a petrified forest in Calastoga that has a nice 20min walk or just stop in any of the small towns and do some window shopping.

We hope you enjoy Napa Valley as much as we do. I am sure we will be back soon.

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