Last weekend I got together with my old DC squad for an inaugural girlfriends getaway. Over the past year, we’ve spread out across the country making our monthly dinners impossible. We decided the next-best-thing would be annual trips to hang out and get in a lot of quality girlfriend time.
It can be next to impossible to plan a trip that will work for five women’s schedules. We all have busy jobs and two ladies are now first-time moms. To say this trip took almost a year to actualize would not be an understatement. But I’m so happy we were finally able to make it work, minus one lady who will hopefully join in next time.
We spent a long weekend in San Francisco, with a very exciting excursion to one of my favorite places – Sonoma wine country. I can’t think of anything that could make me happier than good friends, good wine and great scenery. And that’s exactly what our day-trip to Sonoma was all about.
*Sonoma has bounced back quickly from the devastating fires that swept the area last year, but visiting wineries and supporting local businesses is a great way to help them fully recover.
Stop #1 – Buena Vista Winery
We started our day in wine country at the iconic Buena Vista Winery. Founded in 1857, Buena Vista is said to be California’s first premium winery. We were worried about unruly crowds, but this place is enormous and offered plenty of space to do a tasting and enjoy the lovely grounds.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we did our tasting outside. We sampled one white and four reds at a leisurely pace. I enjoyed all four wines, but my favorite of the bunch was the 2015 Arpad’s Selection Zinfandel. While I do love the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that famously come out of Sonoma, it’s good to spice things up every now and again. This Zinfandel embodies the classic richness and dark fruit characteristics the grape is known for, but in a slightly softer and more approachable way.
We had a reservation for our next tasting, so our time at Buena Vista was a bit short. But not so short that we couldn’t take lots of silly pictures and grab a couple of bottles to go. Although this winery is definitely on the larger and more commercialized side, I’d definitely come back again for the atmosphere and affordable wine selection.
Buena Vista does not require reservations for parties under 8. Tasting fees vary, starting at $20 per person.
Stop #2 – Keller Estate Winery
Keller Estate was our main destination for this trip. We set up a private tasting and had a wonderful time drinking on the almost-secluded patio overlooking the vineyard and mountains. Keller is a family-owned estate vineyard, growing all of their grapes right on their property to control the quality of what goes into your glass. They also hand-harvest their grapes to ensure only the best fruit is crushed and turned into wine. This was apparent from the first to the last sip of our tasting.
Our tasting included a sparkling wine, a Pinot Gris and three delicious reds. The Brut, made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, was a favorite around the table. It’s punchy notes of green apple and full-bodied texture were intoxicating. I also loved the Pinot Gris from the La Cruz vineyard, featuring mineral-laden soil that creates rich and complex wines. Two Pinot Noirs and a robust Syrah completed the tasting.
Keller Estate also grows olive trees, and we were treated to a tasting of their olive oil along with hunks of local, crusty bread. The herbaceous oil was delicious and sparked our appetites, so we left to head on to our final stop of the day.
Visits to The Keller Estate are by appointment only. The easiest way to set up a tasting is through Cellar Pass. Tastings are start at $25 per person.
Stop #3 – Ram’s Gate Winery
Our tasting associate at Keller led us to Ram’s Gate nearby. As soon as we walked in we were enamored with the lush grounds and elegant seating area. Instead of tasting, we opted to order a bottle of Pinot Noir to enjoy with a cheese plate.
The cheese plate was huge, although unfortunately not quite what we had in mind. But with wine and atmosphere as good as Ram’s Gate’s, we couldn’t complain. This was definitely the point where our day of wine-ing turned from intellectual tasting to silly girls’ trip shenanigans. Let’s just say we had a great time.
Visits to Rams Gate are by appointment only. However, we were able to get a reservation on very short notice. Tasting fees start at $40 per person.
We used SF Limo to get us around and safely back to San Francisco and had a great experience. Don’t drink and drive!
A huge shout-out to my travel companions Unmani, Sham and Camille for making our first girls’ trip so much fun. I can’t wait for the next one!
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