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.

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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.

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tasting room in sonoma
wine barrels stacked on each other
grapes
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).

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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.

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Me and Shawn.
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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 a co-founder of Eloquence. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta, as well as Heidelberg, Germany. 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. Though they are currently nomadic, they look forward to establishing a European home someday. 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?

  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.

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