Wine tasting is one of my favorite weekend pastimes. Aside from brunch there are fewer things that bring me as much joy - and perhaps before you jump to the conclusion of my professed love of alcohol, I'll admit that it is the social and cultural aspect of both that draw my attention. Wineries in both Sonoma and Napa Valley have to present themselves in unique and striking ways; There are simply too many of them in the area to not find a special way to set themselves apart from their neighbors. Because of this, there are wineries that are actual castles, ones with swimming pools, and yet another that has a secret speakeasy entrance hidden behind a wall. There are ones that have award winning lavender fields, a petting zoo, and murder mysteries...And yes, they each have a spectacular wine that makes them special. One does not simply taste wine here in the valleys; you have an experience.
It can get hot in the Valleys - and by hot, I mean 100+ degrees. Surrounded by mountains the heat from the sun seems to settle between them, baking the residents into a rather relaxed, if not lethargic state of being. If you haven't experienced the crisp, cooling experience of a chilled wine in the hot summer weather, I highly recommend it. In the summer tourists and locals alike are nomadic, shade seeking creatures who lust for wide brimmed sun hats and a nap. People move a little slower, tend to have an extra drink or two, and leave a wine tasting with more bottles than anticipated. For those who have been to the Aix in Provence region of France, they will find themselves in familiar territory.
Most wineries in the area have family business ties. Whether it be a pair of brothers, an uncle, or an Italian expat who came to California to make a name for himself, every winery has a story. An inside tip: do not trust a winery that requires its employees to wear a uniform. Good wine isn't stuffy here; it is as relaxed as the California culture itself. Look for wineries that boast about the complexity of their pours and their small barrel batches - not the exclusivity of their wine clubs.
For my trip into Napa Valley, I kept it casual and wore a few of my favorite staples: a relaxed pair of boyfriend jeans, a comfortable pair of Total Motion pumps by Rockport, and an on-trend off the shoulder top. In the summer months it is advised to wear as many natural fibers as possible; you want your skin to be able to breathe in the heat!
|Top: Nordstrom // Jeans: Gap // Heels: Total Motion pumps by Rockport (c/o)|
Photography: Sam Delaware