I spent a whirlwind weekend with my long-time friend Andrea and her husband Shanon in Concord, CA (located in the bay area). Not only did I get to spend three fun-filled days with Andrea in Cali, but I also get to cross off my first item on my 30 Before 30: wine tasting in Sonoma!
Andrea and Shanon live about 45 minutes away from Napa, and more like an hour-and-a-half drive from Sonoma. They were so gracious to drive us a little further away for some extra delicious wine tasting – I really had to twist their arms. 😉
But wine tasting will have to wait just a moment because first I have to gush about all the fun I had on Friday our designated girl’s day! Andrea and I began our day with a stroll around the beautiful day area dog park, which normally includes a phenomenal view of the Golden Gate Bridge when the fog is less visible. This off-the-leash dog area runs right along the ocean, so the dogs can run around on the walking path or play in the water. Trogdor, Andrea’s dog, had so much fun and even found a little chipmunk-like critter to “stalk.”
After our windy morning walk, we went shopping in Walnut Creek and had a late afternoon lunch at a delightful bistro, Va de Vi, that reminded me so much of summer in Italy. Lunch was so scrumptious and perfectly refreshing on a hot afternoon of shopping. Our check was brought to the table tucked inside an old book. The English teacher in me just swooned!
After lunch, we snacked on Kara’s Cupcakes, an environmentally friendly cupcakery that is super pink and completely adorable! We had mini cupcakes and sweet iced coffee, which left us buzzing with a happy sugar rush. It was the perfect ending to our girl’s day!
And now…Wine Country! Saturday morning we piled into Shanon’s Jeep and began our wind-blown journey through Napa and Sonoma. We began in Napa with a quick stop by Silenus Vinters, which offers multiple wines from a number of wineries. It was a fun place to start our wine day and enjoy a variety of bold, unique wines from several vinters. Before heading over to Sonoma, we spent some time sipping a bubbly rose on the huge porch at Chandon. While Chandon is clearly a stop for massive tour buses, we were able to find an open table and enjoy soaking up the mid-morning sun with a little bubbly!
After swinging by an adorable little market/cafe for freshly prepared sandwiches we made our way to Sonoma. The first winery we visited was Armida. Before jumping into the complementary wine tasting, we were able to enjoy our sandwiches and a refreshing glass of wine on their deck. Armida seems to be a little off the beaten path, which made for a more personal tasting. We chatted up the fellow leading our tasting by asking all sorts of questions about the wines and winery. Not only were we given several extra wines to taste, he also gave us a 10% “poor teacher discount” when Shanon purchased of a few bottles of his favorite wine: Poizin. Being inquisitive at family-style wineries can definitely pay off!
Next stop was a quick tasting at Geyser Peak before we headed into Healdsburg for dinner. Happily, we stumbled upon Downtown Wine Cellars tasting room, which quickly became our favorite tasting of the day! As we entered the tasting room, the woman behind the counter invited us to pick a record to put on for our tasting. Already, we were in love. She then told us the unique history of how Gary’s Branham Estate Wines and Kenny’s Hobo Wine Company, Banyan Wines, and Folk Machine came to be poured side-by-side in the tasting room and led us through a fun, informative, and artistic journey of palate-pleasing wine. Heck, Andrea ended up joining the wine club! I think that says how much we loved the whole experience!
We capped off our wine-day at the Bear Republic Brewing Company for garlic fries, locally brewed beer, and re-fueling before the long drive home.
Sunday came much too soon and it was time for me to return to my beloved Colorado. I had such an amazing time with Andrea and Shanon in Concord, and I was able to check off one of my 30 Before 30 goals! I left with hugs and a promise to return. Next time, maybe I’ll even let Ian come, too!