Agenda: Wine Weekend in Carneros & The Carneros Inn

At the base of Napa and Sonoma Counties, is the Carneros wine region, specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and home to the most luxurious and resort I’ve yet to experience, The Carneros Inn.  It is difficult to imagine a more picture perfect place for a fabulous weekend in wine country.  The location makes it an easy trip from San Francisco and an ideal point to explore both Napa Valley and southern Sonoma.

Day 1

4pm…  After you arrive at the reception desk, gladly accept a complementary glass of wine, and (wine in hand) explore the property on this side of the resort.  You’ll wander by the heated pool and hot tub overlooking the vineyards, wood burning fireplaces, the spa, and the Hilltop Dining Room.

When you first see your private cottage, you’ll need to try to contain your enthusiasm.  If someone locked you in this room all weekend, you’d no doubt be perfectly happy.  There are several reasons for this.  First, there are heated bathroom floors. Secondly,  you can walk along those heated floors to a luxurious outdoor shower. Most importantly, the lovely people at the Inn will bring to your room… hot. mini. donuts.  Yes.  It is true.  And even better still, you can eat them in your heated private courtyard. If you are truly smart, you’ll have called ahead for a chilled bottle of Domain Carneros bubbly waiting for you in your room to enjoy while you settle in.

7pm…  If you can manage to pry yourself out of your room, dress up, take a stroll down to Farm, one of several on property restaurants where you’ll enjoy an elegant meal and needless to say, amazing wines.  Speaking of wine, an important tip to keep in mind: Farm is best enjoyed on a night that does not follow a full day of wine tasting (something I learned the hard way).  Be sure to allow some time to hang out and enjoy Farm’s “living room style alfresco lounge” either before or after dinner.

 Day 2:

9am…  You might not want to wake up, but there are hot mini doughnuts and coffee waiting at your door!    Sit out on your private outdoor dining table.  No one can see you, so just eat in your fluffy robe while mustering up the energy to explore some Carneros wineries.

11am… Your first stop: Truchard Vineyards. Truchard is a small, family run winery.  It’s the sort of place you wouldn’t know was there if you didn’t know it was there.  They offer an (appointment only) intimate tour and tasting of their estate grown wines, with everything I love in a winery tour. You’ll start out in their rustic and comfortable tasting room, sipping a couple of wines while learning about the family and the vineyard’s history. Then Adrian, Director of Hospitality, fills your glass, grabs another bottle of wine and off you go.  He’ll take you next to the vineyards where you’ll sip the grapes in the midst of the very vines that grew them.  You might be invited to pick and taste an orange off their tree while Adrian explains how the vineyard staff often eats together with food grown on property.

After a refill, you’ll head underground for a walk through the wine caves.  As a child, I would get very excited about going into caves. I still do. Especially because now the caves have wine in them!  It is always special when you are offered the rare barrel tasting which is exactly what we got to do at Truchard.

 

  There is no better souvenir in wine country than buying wine to drink at home, especially because most wineries will waive their tasting fees with a purchase.  So don’t forget to place your order before heading out.

1pm… Unless you planned ahead for a picnic lunch from The Carneros Inn’s Market, stop back by and grab a sandwich or some cheese, bread and fruit to prepare your stomach for some fantastic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Saintsbury Winery. Saintsbury is another small, appointment only winery with some of the best Pinot in the area.  Here, rather than a tour of the winery, you’ll sit with a few others family style around a wooden table. Or if it is a nice day, you may taste outdoors in their pleasant country garden, either way, a different tasting experience from other area wineries.  Saintsbury’s wines are widely distributed around the country, particularly their Garnet Pinot.  But during the tasting, you’ll be offered their lesser distributed wines including their Brown Ranch Pinot and Chardonnay which are ‘slap you in the face’ delicious.  Tastings are $25 and last about an hour.

3pm… If by chance you have another winery tour left in you, Etude is a larger nearby property where an appointment is not necessary for a pop-in tasting. Etude’s modern, airy tasting room offers a more impersonal experience with phenomenal, yet pricey wines.

4pm… Head back to the Inn for a nap or a dip by the pool.  When you feel refreshed and recuperated, relax at the lively modern rustic Boon Fly Cafe for a casual dinner and have a seat at the bar for a casual dinner.

Day 3

10am… Since you’ll need another dose of mini donuts before you head out of town, drop back by the Boon Fly Cafe when you wake for breakfast.  Try the Bacon Bloody Marys, Egg in a Hole, Mexican Chilaquiles, and of course, a bucket of donuts with some great coffee. Truly a delicious ending to a delicious weekend.

Need a bit more info?  

For a great description of Carneros Inn’s Spa check out Katherine Bond at Justluxe.com

If you need a few more nearby wineries to visit check out winecountry.com‘s suggestions.

A list of many Carneros area tasting rooms here courtesy of Carneros Wine Alliance.

I love Maila Cano’s photographs of the Inn on her blog maliacanoblog.com.

 

 

 

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