Wine Tasting in Napa Valley with Platypus Tours

The highlight of our Girls Weekend for me was definitely Friday. Becky, Carly & I spent the majority of the day on a wine tour with Platypus Tours and had so much fun!

{photo cred: Becky}

Our host for the day, Scott W., swooped us up at our hotel at 10:30am sharp. It was very convenient to be picked up, since it’s obviously unsafe to drive while wine tasting! The CHP (California Highway Patrol) is also pretty strict in Napa, as you can imagine.

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We drove up the valley all the way to Saint Helena (one of the more northern points of the valley) and arrived at our first stop: Flora Springs Estate.

Flora Springs was one of the more personal experiences we got throughout the day, and it was probably our longest stop. Our host, Travis, had wine glasses at the ready and even led us on a tour of the estate’s caves, complete with lots of stories about Flora Komes, the winery’s namesake.

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{there’s Travis pouring our first glass, and a photo of Flora Komes arriving in America}

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Flora decided to name all the “streets” in the wine cave – there was also a Hollywood Blvd and Route 66!

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Some of the barrels were American, but most of them were French. The origin of the wood matters! Did you know that barrels like this cost over $1,000 each? Do you see how many are in that cave?! They also carry a ton of wine 😉

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Some wines are aged in this concrete “egg”!

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I really liked Flora Springs’ Sauvignon Blanc “Soliloquy Vineyard”. It was the very first glass we tried and, though I’m a red lover (and they had some nice reds for us to taste as well!), the Sauv Blanc was the perfect balance of sweet and dry. We convinced ourselves that we would find other wines that we liked better throughout the day, but no other wine tickled my fancy (or my pocket book) like this one! Guess I’ll have to order online 😉

After nearly 2 hours at Flora Springs, we hopped on the bus and headed to our next stop!

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On the bus, we were delighted to be surprised with crackers and some amazing cheese. Carly doesn’t like this picture but I love the joy on her face…it definitely mirrors what we were all feeling at that moment! Flora Springs gave us some pretty heavy pours 🙂

The next winery was just a short trip away, still in St. Helena: Arger-Martucci Vineyard!

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Arger-Martucci is owned by an extremely friendly Bronx native, who we had the pleasure of meeting near the tail end of our visit. We had a perfect little spot overlooking the vineyard’s pool (huh? Whatever, I’ll take it!) in the shade. It came to be about 90 degrees in Napa that day – PERFECT, compared to the 102 degree temps in Sacramento!

This was definitely an intimate setting, and our wine guide for the day (Hannah?) was sharp and knowledgeable. We totally bonded over being French major/Francophiles 🙂 We tasted only reds at Arger-Martucci, and they were varieties I don’t try very often like Cabernet Franc. All very tasty and not too heavy for the hot day!

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Scott W. also had an amazing lunch spread waiting for us! He seriously took care of us all day long, making sure we had food in our stomachs and were properly hydrated!

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Not just yummy but healthy too: croissant sandwiches with fruit and quinoa salad.

We had to leave eventually, so we headed on out to our next stop: Rutherford Grove Winery.

Rutherford Grove was pretty much just a tasting room, and they offered mostly red wines. We were a little less than thrilled with the size of the pours (I promise we weren’t drunk at this point!), but the wine was good and our server was friendly!

We at least got some nice pictures!

Back into the van we went for one last stop –

Oh and also, the cheese platter was obliterated by this point (there were 10 of us in the van to enjoy it!)

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Our last stop of the day was Hill Family Estate in the cute little town of Yountville! This was also a kind of tasting room experience, but our tasting was accompanied by some delicious food and fun stories about the family who owns the place. Our host was also very accommodating to those on our tour who weren’t huge red wine drinkers (and had been forcing down red wine all day!), and let them substitute their favorite wine instead.

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Seriously…amazing spread of food.

And that was it for our tour! We got a little bit of free time to explore Yountville, then headed to the bus to be dropped back off at our hotels.

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Oh yeah, while we were exploring, we saw an Indian wedding party ride through. In the middle of Yountville. So random!

If you are looking to go wine tasting in Napa Valley, but have no idea where to go…I can’t recommend Platypus Tours enough! The price is comparable to what you’d pay for a private driver for the day, and on top of transportation you also get snacks, lunch, water, and a guarantee that all of your tastings will cost only $10-$15! We had an amazing time.

Have you ever been wine tasting? Did you go on your own or with a tour?

Have you been to Napa Valley? What is your favorite winery?

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Girls Weekend in Photos

Sorry for the silence, dear readers! I had a productive week at work last week and apparently blogging took the back burner. I’ve got a lot of fun stuff to share this week though!

As anyone who follows me on FB, Twitter or Instagram knows, I was in the Bay Area this weekend. Becky flew in from Minneapolis on Wednesday and stayed with Carly in nearby Davis. They headed to Napa the next day…I had work and was a captain in a super serious (ha) playground-style dodgeball draft on Thursday night, so on Friday morning I woke up bright and early and took the train to Fairfield, where Carly picked me up and our weekend began!

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It was a leisurely 40 minute ride, and gave me plenty of time to enjoy some tea and do some reading (I’m currently reading The Paris Wife).

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Our day consisted of a wine tour hosted by Platypus Tours. We visited 4 wineries in the Napa Valley, ranging from St. Helena back through Rutherford and we ended in Yountville.

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It was an amazing day! More details on this to come later. Shockingly, the favorite wine of the day for this red wine lover was actually a white- a Sauvignon Blanc from the very first winery we visited. In fact, it was the first taste we tried! And of course I decided not to buy it because I thought “I’ll find something else I like more”… Womp womp.

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We were in pretty good shape after the tasting (the tour included snacks, lots of water, and lunch!) so we decided to check out downtown Napa after a quick rest. I am somewhat familiar with Napa, being that my ex boyfriend grew up there. But all the places we went this weekend were new-to-me! We had some amazing pasta at Ristorante Allegria (with more wine for Becky and I…oops) and beautiful cocktails at Fagiani’s.

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After a painful car ride (Becky and I were not at our best after splitting that bottle of wine at dinner 😉 ), we arrived in San Francisco. The lovely Sarah met up with us and we walked through Downtown SF to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market to check out the, uh, classy artisan offerings. We also had brunch (at like 2pm) at The Plant Cafe Organic – it was amazing!

Unfortunately the fun ended there for Becky and I, and we went back to the hotel to veg out. We ended up ordering pizza and having a relaxing night in so we would be fully recovered for a Sunday full of sight seeing!

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And recovered we were! We took a nice long walk to North Beach and had brunch at a dive bar (The Boardroom) that ended up having some AMAZING food – including bacon wrapped tater tots. I had a yummy BLT and we all marveled at Carly’s graham cracker French toast with Biscoff spread – OMG. Speaking of Biscoff, apparently you can buy 3.5 lb tubs of it at a shop in Pier 39. Proof: see above!

Before leaving, we had to make sure that Becky saw the Golden Gate Bridge. We went to a lookout near Crissy Field and had a photo op while freezing our butts off. Then it was sadly time to say goodbye!

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And to offset all that girl time, I went bowling with the guys when I got home! I was horrified to see that my friends are actually all totally serious bowlers (some with their own balls and everything!) because I am definitely a bumper girl 😉 I embarrassingly scored an average of 60 points in my first 2 games before pulling off a 126 in our last game! So proud.

That’s it for my long weekend. One last thing –

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Happy birthday to my brother Andrew! He turns 23 today, and I am insanely jealous that it appears he will be sharing a birthday with the Royal Baby! Just push the kid out before 4pm PST, Kate!! As I already said on Facebook… He may be 10 inches taller than me, but I will always be 22 months older. Have a great day!