San Francisco in two days? It can be done. Here’s Part Two on my San Francisco in One or Two Days series. You may be surprised to see I’m suggesting you leave the city and head to Napa for Day Two, but it is so worth it. Seize the day, or in this case the grapes and enjoy all that the Napa Valley area has to offer.
San Francisco in Two Days
San Francisco in One Day had you hustling all over the city. You may be a bit tired from all your exercise! So for your second day, try something entirely outside the city. I love the vibe in Sausalito, which is just a stone’s throw across the Bay overlooking the city. But my recommendation for a trip you won’t forget is a Napa Valley wine tour. A wonderful starting point for planning is Visit Napa Valley to learn more about the area and select your wineries. There’s also the Napa Valley Wine Train which TravelingMom Britni featured.
Or you can do what I did and go with a wine tour that coordinates it all for you. Our winery tour was prearranged by a friend, so all we had to do was show up. Bonus: they do all the driving for you! Napa is about an hour away (on a good traffic day), but that gives you ample time to unplug and unwind.
Day Two: Napa Wine Tour
They had selected three wineries for us to tour: Paraduxx, Rutherford Ranch and Flora Springs. Each one was as unique in wines and location as they could be. I found that three wineries was the perfect number for our excursion since we were a group of 18. Otherwise, we would have felt too rushed.
I would describe Paraduxx as casual elegance with a focus on modern wine blends. The vibe is relaxed yet upscale. Check out this view!
This winery is part of the Duckhorn family which first got its start in 1976. They now own and operate 7 estate wineries. I’d say that’s a success! We noshed on cheese and crackers between sips of our red wine flight, featuring 6 of Paraduxx’s best offerings. Each one became more bold and assertive (or maybe that was just their effect on the drinker)! We wondered how our day could get much better because we were so relaxed and comfortable. But being only the first stop in our Napa Wine Tour, we were in for more surprises.
This is the quintessential American winemaker with varied offerings and recipient of bountiful accolades, including “Napa Winery of the Year” by the New York International Wine Competition 2013. Rutherford Ranch’s tasting gave us both whites and reds, ranging from the 2014 Rutherford Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, the 2012 Scott Family Estate Chardonnay (our favorite), and the 2013 Scott Family Estate Pinot Noir, which paired fabulously with a raspberry chocolate. Our tasting was followed lunch served on the Patio Terrace.
We soaked in the sunshine over sips of wine and conversation, wishing every day could be spent like today. Between the tasting and lunch, we didn’t have much time to tour the grounds before we were whisked away to our final winery. So even though I supremely savored their wines (even ordering a few), our actual winery experience left something to be desired. Of course, Rutherford Ranch does offer vineyard tours and seminars, so if you are looking for something more in-depth, sign up for one of those.
Old World European flair meets stunning California landscape. European and Grecian influences greeted us with the Bocce court and the welcome sign with the goddess logo. This third and final stop was my absolute favorite. Then again, I’m a sucker for a wine tour that takes us into the hillside caves and teaches you about the process. Our guide, Travis was equal parts knowledgeable and friendly, pouring our glasses and fielding our questions. We learned about the different nuances between wine aged in American white oak barrels vs. French white oak. You might wonder: why do the barrels look stained? Because barrels have to be “topped off” occasionally to keep minimal oxygenation.
Flora Springs owns 13,000 square feet of cave space which took nine months to create. Which begs the question: why caves? They said three reasons: 1) They can maintain a steady wine-friendly temperature of 55 degrees; 2) humidity control-since up to 3 % can be lost due to evaporation (called the “angel share”); and 3) they don’t have to pay property taxes for what’s below ground. Ingenious!
Could it have been the picturesque setting overlooking the grape vines in the covered open air terrace? Or just the calm that comes from arriving at the final leg of our journey? Call it any of those, but Flora Springs ranks tops in my book. I could have stayed there forever. Or until the wine ran out. Which judging by the number of barrels won’t be anytime soon!
Napa is for people who love wine, but also people who love life and are willing to take time to savor simplicities like fresh air, a cool breeze, rolling hills dotted with grape vines and to just escape from the hustle and bustle. I hope this virtual tour of the Napa wineries has you planning a trip there soon. Cheers!