Napa and Sonoma are the most beautiful places to visit in the summer. The Carneros region is unique in that it’s shared by both Napa and Sonoma. The region is known to be cooler than other parts of wine country, which makes it ideal for producing Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon blanc. It was nice to be able to set our own timeline and not have to rush to the airport. I could also pretty much pack anything I wanted without having to worry about weight or liquids! That being said, I packed 2 casual summer dresses, a bathing suit, 2 pairs of jeans jeans, 2 t-shirts, a hat, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 purses, and 1 pair of pajamas. You can shop my ‘California casual’ look here.
I am a huge fan of Away luggage. The company gives you a lifetime warranty. The suitcase I have is the perfect size for a long weekend and then some. Mine is the medium size. I use Calpak packing cubes to organize within the suitcase. I also love to roll my clothes to fit more into the packing cubes. My trustworthy Celine bag is sturdy and keeps everything I need organized and at reach. Get a similar suitcase here.
Napa is about about a 7 hour drive from Los Angeles. The drive is somewhat scenic with mountains and almond orchards along the way. This was my first road trip in the Tesla (Model 3) so I had to plan it out along a route with Tesla superchargers. You get about 300 miles for each full charge in the long range Model 3. Once you enter your destination in the navigation, the car maps out where to stop to supercharge and how many minutes it will take. The superchargers are easy to find and use. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get a full charge – pretty amazing! We booked two nights at my favorite resort in the Carneros area of Napa – Carneros Inn and Spa. The resort is located conveniently close to both Napa and Sonoma. This makes it easy to go to vineyards in both places. I booked tastings online ahead of time at three wineries in Carneros that were close to the hotel and to each other: Cuvaison, Donum, and Artesa.
I was smitten the moment I walked in and saw the view from the tasting room. This unpretentious winery has a stunning view of their vineyard. It’s a chill place that’s unhurried and sun drenched. Our wine host spent a lot of time telling us about the wine and the history of Cuvaison. We sat out on the patio to soak in the sun and views.
Our wine host gave us an interesting historical tidbit about the pretty flowers on some of their wine labels: Andy Warhol was commissioned to design them after he visited the winery. Cuvaison, like many other wineries in Los Carneros, is known for chardonnay and pinot noir. The wines are well priced and if you become a member, your next 4 tastings are free and the wines are discounted. It didn’t take much to convince me to join! I loved the wines, chill atmosphere, and stunning views from the tasting room. I will definitely be back for another tasting at Cuvaison.
Donum is probably the most beautiful winery I’ve ever been to. I am not kidding – spectacular views and larger than life sculptures make it an unforgettable tasting experience.
The wines and the tastings are pricier than the other wineries we visited. The reason for this must be the top notch service, the extra time spent touring the art, and the fantastic box of snacks prepared by Girl and the Fig restaurant in Sonoma Square.
The sculptures are massive and can be seen from various points of the vineyard. There’s even a maze made of towering gold bars. My favorite piece was the silver heart, shimmering in the sun off in the distance. I loved the Chardonnays and Pinot noirs at Donum and joined their wine club. I’m looking forward to visiting again!
Artesa is also home to wonderful Chardonnays and Pinot noirs. They make some amazing sparkling wines as well. The owner are from Barcelona so there are definitely various influences from Spain, including their food pairings. There’s a beautiful fountain in the front and the winery has a very clean, modern feel.
We had our tasting in the sun drenched patio with views for days. I really enjoyed their sparkling wine – it seemed perfect for a warm summer afternoon. The wine bottle labels resemble tiles from Barcelona. Each label is commissioned by artists to match the wine. My favorites at Artesa were the Grand Reserve Brut and the 2017 Pinot Noir. The Grand Reserve Brut was crisp with notes of melon. It’s the perfect summer sparkling wine. The Pinot Noir is very balanced with notes of berry. Artesa has a wide variety of wines including some amazing Chardonnay. It’s definitely one of the best wineries in Los Carneros.
Carneros Inn is one of my favorite hotels in the world. They have individual cottages for all of their guest rooms which include an outdoor shower, enclosed patio with a fireplace, and an adorable front porch with rocking chairs. The hotel has a modern yet rustic farmhouse feel to it.
The grounds are immaculate with abundant gardens filled with fragrant herbs including rosemary and lavender. They greet you with a glass of wine when you arrive and the staff are super friendly. There’s a separate adults only pool that overlooks vineyards. The spa house is next to the pool and their deep tissue massages are amazing!
The food at Carneros Inn is beyond delicious. Both of their restaurants are well known and get booked up weeks in advance. Make sure to reserve dinner way in advance. Farm is their more formal dining restaurant and they make the most delicious salted olive rosemary bread. Boon Fly Cafe is known for their scrumptious brunches and coffee. Their donuts are a cult classic in the area. Boon Fly is separated from the resort a little and is housed in a striking red barn building.
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We ordered a S’mores kit on our first night and made S’mores in our little patio fireplace. The rooms are cozy and clean with French country inspired decor. Napa nights can get chilly so bring a light jacket or sweater.
The bathrooms have heated floors and also lavendar scented hand sanitizer. Each room also comes with it’s own wine on tap dispenser. You can reserve one of the many bikes at the hotel to explore the area sans your car. My only gripe was that they had just 2 EV chargers which everyone seemed to be fighting over. This hotel is a real splurge and the rates vary throughout the year and also during the days of the week. You can book a car service through their concierge and also wine tastings at the resort. They did a good job of wearing masks and distancing. The resort is almost designed to distance guests because it’s so spread out. I visited over July 4th weekend and as of July 14th, we just got news that wineries will be shut down in California. Thanks for coming on this journey virtually with me! I hope you can make it Napa and Sonoma – particularly the Carneros region sometime soon! Until then, feel free to send me any questions or comments you might have and stay safe!
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