May 2018 (1USD=109JPY):
This trip was during the Golden Week (long holidays in Japan) in 2018. We had a 3-day tour of the wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California, the U.S. We went to Napa Valley by rental car and parked it at our accommodation. We used Uber for the wineries tasting tour. The wineries we visited required reservations; I had reserved them online in advance. I had bought a G-CALL prepaid USA SIM in advance and inserted it when I arrived at Los Angeles Airport. I had also set up the Uber app in advance.
I selected wineries that weren’t lean in AVA (American Viticultural Area) and grape varieties. I also referred to Parker Point ( hereinafter PP) and other wine awards.
-Silver Oak Napa Valley（Oakville AVA）
-Opus One Winery（Oakville AVA）Kenzo Estate（Wild Horse Valley AVA）
-Robert Biale Vineyards（Oak Knoll District AVA）
-Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars（Stags Leap District AVA）
-Priest Ranch Wines（Yountville AVA）
-Louis M. Martini Winery（Spring Mountain AVA）
-Chateau Montelena Winery（Calistoga AVA）
-Jordan Vineyard & Winery（Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley AVA）
-Davis Family Vineyards（Russian River Valley AVA）
-Landmark Vineyards（Russian River Valley, Sta. Rita Hills, Sonoma Coast, Carneros AVA）
1st day: Yosemite National Park – Napa Valley
2nd day: Tastings at wineries in Napa Valley
3rd day: Purchase wines in Napa Valley – Purchase wines in Sonoma Valley – San Francisco
Map of Napa Valley https://www.visitnapavalley.com/wineries/winery-map/
Map of Sonoma Valley https://www.sonoma.com/maps/
1st day: Wed, May 2
We left Yosemite National Park (pre-journey) around noon and went ahead to Napa Valley. We arrived at RiverPointe Napa Valley Resort late because of traffic jams.
After check-in, we walked to Oxbow Public Market for about 20 mins and had dinner at Gott’s Roadside. This restaurant is a hamburger shop of which wine critic Robert Parker speaks very highly. The California Burger tasted very good and they had a good selection of wines and draft beer.
After dinner, we bought bread and cheese in the market for the next day’s snacks.
18:30 RiverPointe Napa Valley Resort
19:30 Oxbow Public Market
20:00 Gott’s Roadside
2nd day: Thur, May 3rd
We tasted wines at wineries in Napa Valley all day.
At first, we went to Silver Oak Cellars. This winery boasts its Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is one of the few wineries in which we can taste from 9:00 A.M. We got a wine glass with the logo as a souvenir, which we used in our tasting. We shared 3 wines for $30.
The second was Opus One. This winery was established by the Baron of Château Mouton and Robert Mondavi with a strong commitment to quality, so it is a collaboration between France and California. We had reserved at 10:00 A.M. We tasted wines at the picnic area along with the bread and cheese that we brought. We shared 3 wines for $70. We purchased Overture ($150) as a souvenir.
The third was Kenzo Estate. It is a precious winery because it offers tours to Japanese people. We had reserved a tour & tasting at 12:00 P.M. This winery was established by a Japanese man and is known for a charismatic viticulturist who had improved the soil from scratch, and the winemaker who created a rare cult wine, Screaming Eagle. These wines complement Japanese food too. The tour with 4 wines was $80 per person. The duration was about 75 mins. We purchased Asuka ( $135) as a souvenir.
This winery is located apart from others and had a bad connection for reaching Uber, so we asked for a taxi for the return.
The fourth was Robert Biale Vineyards. This winery boasts its Zinfandel. Though we had reserved at 2:00 P.M., we were a little late. We shared 4 wines for $30. We purchased Black Chicken Zinfandel (approx. $38) as a souvenir. I drank it after returning home. It was a good deal too, so I wanted to buy it again.
The fifth was Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. This is a famous winery because it took First Place in red wines at the blind tasting in France in 1976 (Judgment of Paris). It was a powerful red wine. The Chardonnay tasted good too. We shared 4 wines for $45. This tasting was a good deal because we were able to compare expensive wines. We purchased S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon ( approx. $185) as a souvenir.
At last, there was Priest Ranch. This winery is one of the few wineries which is open until 7:00 P.M. We shared 4 wines for $50. We purchased rich-tasting Double Barrel ($75).
We had reserved Cole’s Chop House for dinner. The recommended wines by the sommelier were Red Mare Chardonnay, which was made from grapes from Dutton Ranch for white and Stag’s Leap for red, but we told him that we had visited there that day, so he recommended Alpha Omega instead.
09:00 Silver Oak Cellars
10:00 Opus One
12:00 Kenzo Estate
14:00 Robert Biale Vineyards
15:00 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
16:00 Priest Ranch
18:00 Dinner at Cole’s Chop House
3rd day: Fri, May 4th
We traveled from Napa Valley to Sonoma Valley and on to San Francisco through the Golden Gate Bridge. We only purchased wines we had already planned to buy without tasting them because we were driving.
We purchased wine boxes at a wine shop in Napa Valley Wine Train at 9:30 A.M. It cost $23 for two boxes (one and a half cartons).
We went up north on the Silverado Trail and had California Burgers at Gott’s Roadside in the St. Helena region after 10 A.M. We loved it because it was delicious.
At first, we went to Louis M. Martini Winery. We purchased two Cabernet Sauvignons ($38,$85) which took PP.
The second was Chateau Montelena Winery. This winery took First Place in white wines in Judgment of Paris. We purchased a Chardonnay($58) and a Cabernet Sauvignon($61).
The third was Jordan Vineyard & Winery. This winery has a good reputation for tasting and has been around for a long time. We purchased a chardonnay($33) and a Cabernet Sauvignon(approx.$60).
The fourth was Davis Family Vineyards. This winery is a Pinot Noir specialty winery and had PP. We purchased wines made from grapes from Dutton Ranch ($55) and Starr Ridge ($55). We drank it after returning home. It had a long finish and we wanted to buy it again.
At last, there was Landmark Vineyards. This winery has assorted AVA wines. We purchased two Pinot Noirs and two rich Chardonnays (approx.$50 per wine).
After that, we entered San Francisco city through the Golden Gate Bridge and drove on Lombard Street, which is called “the crookedest street in the world,” and checked in at the hotel. For dinner, we went to PPQ Dungeness Island, which is famous for Dungeness crab, by Uber.
After dinner, we went to Fisherman’s Wharf by Uber and walked to Hog Island Oyster Co. while sightseeing along the piers. We were able to enjoy San Francisco oysters and the Bay Bridge lights here.
09:30 Napa Valley Wine Train
10:00 Breakfast at Gott’s Roadside
10:45 Louis M. Martini Winery
11:50 Chateau Montelena Winery
12:45 Jordan Vineyard & Winery
13:10 Davis Family Vineyards
14:00 Landmark Vineyards
17:30 Dinner at PPQ Dungeness Island
20:30 Cheers at Hog Island Oyster Co.
There were enough Ubers in Napa Valley, so that was so helpful for the tasting tours.
If you want to take many wines by plane, you can buy wine boxes at Napa Valley Wine Train. We took a folding luggage cart to carry them in the airport. Packing tape is also necessary.
The Cabernet Sauvignon, which is likely to be expensive, is the main wine in Napa Valley, so the souvenir wines were relatively expensive. Compared with Napa, the wines in Sonoma Valley are affordable. I especially felt that the rich-tasting Pinot Noir was a good deal.