Our Anniversary Trip to California Wine Country, Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Art at Cliff Lede WineryFourteen years ago Beautiful Wife and I said our “I Dos” among the grape vines at a winery nestled in the Sierra Foothills in California. What a great way to start your lives together surrounded by family, friends and the scent of grapes beginning to ferment in the heat of October harvest.

The California wine country holds an irresistible draw for us for a lot of reasons in a large part because we got married there, but there is more to it. The confluence of wine, art and an incredible culinary scene add to its allure for us. Oh the epicurean bliss.

The siren song has drawn us to Napa, Sonoma, Alexander and Anderson Valleys along with Amador County, Mendocino and other wine regions several times since our wedding. We’ve learned a few things about visiting the wine country such as:

  • Only visit two to three vineyards a day so you have plenty of time to enjoy them. It also reduces the likelihood of getting too drunk to drive to the next place.
  • If you visit more than three wineries, never join the wine club at the last winery of the day.
  • Call ahead to arrange visits at wineries rather than visiting the places with open tasting rooms. You’ll have smaller crowds and get to learn more about the winery and its wines.
  • Always buy wine from the wineries where you have scheduled an appointment. Honor the time and effort they made to meet you.
  • Don’t limit your California wine country travels to just Napa Valley. There are several excellent wine regions throughout the state.
  • When visiting Napa, avoid the crowds by visiting the wineries on Silverado Trail rather than Highway 29.
  • Book reservations at fantastic restaurants well in advance.
  • Relax. Soak your cares away in a traditional mud bath in Calistoga.

We were fortunate enough to spend our 14th wedding anniversary back in California during harvest this year. Coming up will be a series of blog posts recapping some of the places we visited:

Let me know where you like to go in California and what your experiences have been.

What are you drinking?


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Matt McGinnis

As a marketing strategist for Pen & Tell Us, Matt McGinnis provides marketing, branding and communications counsel to food and beverage as well as other clients globally. He is also an avid beverage enthusiast, chronicling his interests as a Food & Drink contributing writer for CultureMap, as the Food & Drink columnist for Austin Man Magazine, and as a blogger for What Are You Drinking?. He is passionate about the wine industry having previously worked at a winery in Oregon and in wine sales. He has served as Guest Host of Sommelier Cinema at the Alamo Drafthouse, and is a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. His writing has been recognized as a Top 10 Food Blog by the Austin Chronicle in 2013 and 2014, with a 2011 Texas Social Media Award from the Austin American-Statesman.

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