A Long Weekend in California Wine Country: Getting a Taste for Napa and Sonoma Wines (Part 2)

Red-toned wine barrels sit outdoors at a Napa Valley winery.
cluster of grapes in Napa

NoteThis is part two of the series, Long Weekend in California Wine Country. Click the image for part one. 

Sunday: Papapietro Perry Winery,  Trattore Estate Wines, Dry Creek Olive Company, Dry Creek General Store and Armida Winery

To commence our final two days in Napa and Sonoma, we drove to the Warm Springs Dam, where there is a scenic lookout over Lake Sonoma.

Napa hilly countryside with trees
open road in California
plant in sunshine
bridge over water with flowers in foreground
blue water near dam
dam in Napa

We then followed the Dry Creek Road down to a cluster of tasting rooms. Our favorites were the Papapietro Perry Winery and Trattore Estate Wines and Dry Creek Olive Company.

evergreen branch
tasting room in sonoma
wine barrels stacked on each other
peace sign outside of Sonoma wine tasting room

With an unassuming, but cheerful interior, Trattore offered friendly service and a lovely sampling of wines. We couldn’t resist purchasing the 2011 Viognier. Knowing that we would be flying back overseas soon, we didn’t snap up any of the wonderful olive oils and vinegar also on sale there. Shawn’s mother did, though, and we would later enjoy sprinkling both in our salads while preparing lunches back at his parents’ home. (Our favorites were a subtly-flavored lemon olive oil and pomegranate vinegar).

bottles of wine
Napa Weekend0575
Napa Weekend0584

Across the street from Trattore is the Papapietro Perry Winery, so we naturally headed there after trying Trattore’s wines. Shawn’s father purchased an extraordinary 2009 Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed on their cozy porch that overlooked a red barn, and more vineyards.

Napa Weekend0604
Napa Weekend0588
Napa Weekend0589
Napa Weekend0674
Napa Weekend0591
Napa Weekend0601
Napa Weekend0603
Napa Weekend0608
Napa Weekend0620
Napa Weekend0625
Napa Weekend0626
Napa Weekend0627
Napa Weekend0628
Napa Weekend0630
Napa Weekend0662
Napa Weekend0631
Napa Weekend0666
Napa Weekend0671
Me and Shawn.
Napa Weekend0563

We picked up take-out sandwiches at the Dry Creek General Store before heading to the Armida Winery, a spot inextricably associated with bocce ball matches and wine for Shawn and his family. There, we savored our Dry Creek General Store sandwiches. (I had chosen well with a perfectly spiced chicken curry salad sandwich. Thank heavens this weekend landed on our agenda before I had to embark on a gluten-free lifestyle!)

Napa Weekend0720
Napa Weekend0717
Napa Weekend0719
Napa Weekend0724
Napa Weekend0735
Napa Weekend0736
Napa Weekend0737
Napa Weekend0740
Napa Weekend0744

Under the watchful eye of a lion sculpture, we played several heated matches of bocce, a ball sport popular in Italy and France that’s similar to games played in the Roman Empire. I was pleased that I experienced the beginner’s luck phenomenon during one of the rounds.

Napa Weekend0842
Napa Weekend0797
Napa Weekend0799
Napa Weekend0802
Napa Weekend0806
Napa Weekend0810
Napa Weekend0811
Napa Weekend0817
Napa Weekend0823
Napa Weekend0827
Napa Weekend0838
Napa Weekend0851
Napa Weekend0877
Napa Weekend0971
Napa Weekend0975

Monday: Petrified Forest and V. Sattui Winery

En route to Napa, signs to the Petrified Forest caught our eye, nudging us to pay homage to the park’s redwoods, which were turned into stone over three million years ago following a volcanic eruption. During all of Shawn’s familial pilgrimages to Napa, they’d never stopped at the Calistoga natural wonder. The park was small, but we enjoyed seeing the age-old redwoods (particularly since we’d just visited the famous coastal redwoods farther north, a bit earlier in the season). As we turned back to the car, a harmless fellow even slithered along our footpath, just to show that there’s much life among those stone, lifeless Calistoga trees.

Napa Weekend0985
Napa Weekend0989
Napa Weekend1004
Napa Weekend1013
Napa Weekend1014
Napa Weekend1019
Napa Weekend1041
Napa Weekend1053
Napa Weekend1067
man riding horse in California

Our last stop before heading back to my in-laws’ home was the V Sattui Winery. On the way, we passed through Napa’s charming downtown, and the Napa Wine Train zipped past us. (Both are on my itinerary the next time we are in California wine country!) As we entered the V. Sattui grounds, we brushed by chest-high buckets of grape bunches which had just been harvested.

Napa Weekend1068
Napa Weekend1091
Napa Weekend1093
Napa Weekend1116
Napa Weekend1135
Napa Weekend1150
Napa Weekend1170
Napa Weekend1186
Napa Weekend1190
Napa Weekend1206
Napa Weekend1208
Napa Weekend1209
Napa Weekend1210
Napa Weekend1212
Napa Weekend1219
Napa Weekend1242
Napa Weekend1245
Napa Weekend1250
Napa Weekend1259
Napa Weekend1293

I immediately fell for V. Sattui’s old world charm: its inviting grounds, shaded by a canopy of old oak trees; its flower-studded landscaping, and its classic stone structure, which was built relatively recently. I also loved our informal picnic offerings, reminiscent of those we’d feasted upon at Ledson two days earlier: cheese, bread and artichoke spread. A 2011 Gamay Rouge rounded off the picnic, and then we bode farewell to Napa and Sonoma. At least for now.

Napa Weekend0401

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

30 thoughts on “A Long Weekend in California Wine Country: Getting a Taste for Napa and Sonoma Wines (Part 2)

  1. Your pictures just made us want to rush back and experience the joys of Napa again. Thanks for bringing back so many wonderful memories.

      1. I love wines from the Russian River and Alexander Valley. I also love Paso Robles. In fact, I got engaged in Paso last May.

      2. Congratulations on your engagement! I’ve not visited Paso Robles, but wine country has such a universally-beautiful appeal that I’m sure it was a stunning backdrop. How fun to be able to return there in future years to celebrate too. Where will you/did you get married?

      3. That’s great idea… I’ll have to suggest we do a wine trip for our first anniversary.

  2. Great post … lovely pics … makes me want to jump in the car and head up there. We’ve never been to the petrified forest either, but now it’s on my list. On your next visit, be sure to stop by Porter Creek Vineyards – fabulous pinot noir and a beautiful plot of land on one of the prettiest roads in the county.

    1. Carolyn, thanks for the recommendation to visit Porter Creek; I’m not sure when we’ll be headed to Napa next, but I have a feeling my in-laws and their good friends will be soon. It sounds quite scenic.

      The Petrified Forest is a fun diversion, and a great place to start the day if it’s too early to start sampling wine. :)

      1. Unfortunately not… I can’t believe I’ve been here for 4 years already! There is just so much to see & do… and then that thing thats called a job gets in the way :)

    1. It was – I’m wondering if it was even more romantic during its earlier days when you visited there, Virginia?

      My stomach’s rumbling at the thought of thought of that sandwich, and you recent cookie recipe. :)

      1. It was pretty sleepy. Just a few wineries having tasting. I absolutely fell in love with it. Now I don’t think it would be my cup of tea. A little too precious. V.

      2. Virginia, makes me wonder what the next up and coming wine spot is? I agree that it’s fun to explore an area before the crowds come full force; I think that’s why I always enjoyed France’s Alsace region. Seems less commercialized overall.

      1. Yes, spent many long afternoons in Vineyards around Nelson (South Island) and Auckland (North Island)

Join the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: