Friday, October 19, 2012

Heading to Napa Valley, and stops at Muir Woods and Sonoma Square

After three amazing days in San Francisco, it was time for Nick and I to head to Napa Valley for some wine tasting fun!  We left the city at around 10:30am and headed out over the Golden Gate Bridge in pursuit of some trees.

Over the bridge we go...
After heading down some very windy roads into a valley we descended into Muir Woods.

Road to Muir Woods

Muir Woods is a lovely California Park filled with Redwood Trees.  The park is less than an hour outside the city, and with walking paths and hiking trails of varying lengths it was a great stop for us.  We took the short walk (0.5 miles) - just enough to get a look at some of the trees but still keeping us on schedule to taste some wine!

Beginning of Muir Woods!
Action Shot!
Learning about the circle of life
In a Redwood!
In a tree - again!

Even though it was a short walk, we got to see some amazing scenery!  The paths were beautifully maintained.  The air was a bit chilly but totally clear.  It was still early so there were not too many people walking around, making for great pictures.

Burned out trees - MANY years old

After taking in the trees and the gift shop (of course!) it was time to move along - further north - for some imbibing!
Coming out of the valley
From Muir Woods, we made a stop at Sonoma Square.  While we weren't visiting any vineyards in Sonoma Valley during the next few days, it was the perfect stop on our trip up.  We grabbed some lunch at The Sonoma Cheese Factory - a great place for a sandwich and some drinks.  With plenty of seats outside, we got to take in the views of the Square.

Sonoma City Hall
Our friends J and D recommended we stop by Westwood Winery's tasting room, down a small alley on the Square.  They actually belong to the wine club here, and having had a taste of one of their bottles we definitely wanted to see what else they had to offer!

Tasting Room
We grabbed a seat in their courtyard, the manager brought out a couple of glasses and we got to tasting!  After 5 different wines, the majority of which were Westwood's own grapes but some from France, we bought ourselves a bottle of their Pinot Noir to remember the stop.  Little did we know this would be a slippery slope to starting quite a collection!  Westwood was a great first stop.  The manager was really friendly and we had a fun time talking about wine and our trip.

Down the Alley!
After our first wine tasting we jumped back into the car and headed to Calistoga, where were would be staying for the next three nights.  As we got closer, I realized we had time to make another stop!  On the north side of Calistoga is Chateau Montelena Winery, which gained notoriety when they stunned France in 1976 with its bottle of Chardonnay (as documented in "Bottle Shock").

The Chateau
Needless to say, the Chateau itself is reason enough to make the visit.  The stone castle is only part of the draw, however.  Previous owners created a Chinese Garden on the grounds complete with ponds and gazebos.

On the grounds
Barrels!  They are not for sale - someone asked....
Chinese Gardens
More Garden Views
After we finished our tasting (and buying one of their sauvignon blancs!) we travelled the last 5 minutes to our hotel - the Best Western Stevenson Manor.  The hotel was recommended by one of Nick's co-workers and was perfect.  The rooms were large, and continental breakfast was provided - complete with a pancake machine (you have to see it to believe it!)  There is even a nice pool and hot tub to enjoy.  Only a short walk from downtown Calistoga, this was a great home base for the next couple of days.


  1. Lovely photos! I love visiting Chateau Montelena, such nice people and such a beautiful property!

  2. This looks like such an incredible day!

  3. We went to Muir woods when we were in SF as well! So beautiful.

  4. Awesome photos. Love seeing those giant trees. That picture of you inside the trunk of a redwood is adorable!

  5. You guys look like you have so much fun everywhere you go!

  6. i agree, what megan said. gosh this was an awesome trip

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