In 1960, John Steinbeck set out to reconnect with America accompanied by one companion, an “intuitive” standard poodle named Charley. The tale was recounted in the now classic book “Travels with Charley.” Steinbeck met the idea of the expedition with both excitement and trepidation. In July of 2012, I set out with my daughter, Whitney, to reconnect with the teenager turned young woman who had so matured, since leaving home for college three years earlier. My stated objectives were to celebrate her 21st birthday and introduce Whitney to the wonders of wine country. This father/daughter excursion was one I met, much like Steinbeck, with both excitement and trepidation.
Wine country vacations, especially to Napa Valley and Sonoma County can be overwhelming to the novice and the experienced wine traveler alike. With over 400 wineries in Napa Valley alone and hundreds more in Sonoma, how do you choose which wineries to visit? Some offer small quaint tastings and tours while others have almost a Las Vegas feel. So what are the best wineries to visit Napa and Sonoma?
Recently I traveled with my daughter, Whitney, to Napa and Sonoma for her 21st birthday celebration. She certainly enjoys wine and grew up around great wines but to date, Whitney has not inherited her dad’s wine geek gene. Like many novice wine drinkers, Whitney has a discerning though still developing palate.
Whitney’s fist trip to Napa/Sonoma needed to be fun yet educational with enough glitz and glamor to spark her 21 year-old soul with a splash of wine geekiness for Dad. This wine country travel itinerary certainly fit the bill.
We had no plans to attend. We didn’t even expect to be in town so we made no effort to get press credentials for the Aspen Food and Wine Classic 2012 until it was far too late. But the best times, as we learned, can happen with a total lack of planning…but always include wine.
Since one of our sons was home from college working at his restaurant management internship, we decided to cut our travels short and return to Denver earlier than expected. Over the previous two weeks a number of kind wineries and winemakers had sent invitations to your humble bloggers for off-site Aspen parties. So after a little effort we booked a small condo in Snowmass, 8 miles away, and decided “who needs the fancy tents anyway…we have wine parties to attend!” In all honesty, next year I really want event tickets after seeing what I could from afar.