Napa and Sonoma Wrap Up

I realized just the other day, when making a reservation for November at our favorite Healdsburg B & B, that I am in the midst of planning another short wine country trip, and I haven’t even finished blogging about the last one! I prematurely booked a ticket to San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Festival, hoping that I get a ticket, and we have an extra two days that we will be spending in Northern Sonoma. Yipeeeeeee.

I have already covered many of the wineries we visited on our last trip, but there were a few more, all very different and all worth visiting for different reasons.


Arista Winery

While dining out at Dry Creek Kitchen (which I actually don’t think I ever blogged about!) we met the guest Sommelier for the night, Mark from Arista, makers of fantastic Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Mark gave us his card, and since we were going to be in the area for the DeLoach Bastille Day party anyway, we decided to check Arista out.

I was running out of camera battery which was awful because their outdoor tasting bar and Japanese gardens were just beautiful. Mark’s dad actually poured our tasting at the bar, and were smitten with not only their single vineyard Pinot Noirs but also their Pinot Gris. Arista is on my list of definite visit-again wineries. There is just something magical about tasting outdoors under big, old trees!

Arista Vineyards

Arista Vineyards


Domaine Carneros

We had passed Domaine Carneros, the Napa-side Carneros winery owned by Taittinger, many many times on past wine country visits. This summer, several people recommended that we visit, so we made a point of stopping by for a glass of Domaine Carneros’ famous bubbly. As you can see the property is fabulously beautiful, like a French chateau.

This is one of my favorite photos from the entire summer.

Domaine Carneros

Their majestic indoor space had a gift shop that offered, among many other things, truffles with wine.

wine truffles

And their patio was a beautiful place to sip a glass of Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé, an elegant pink bubbly.

Domaine Carneros

But, to be honest, I would probably not return. It’s a haven for tour buses and feels very corporate. Maybe it’s just my style, but give me a dusty old dirt road and a tiny warehouse or farmhouse tasting room any day. It is certainly a sight to see though, and if you have the time and are in the area, why not stop?


Loxton Cellars

Loxton Cellars was another gem recommended to me by Chef Robin. On our March Sonoma visit, we stopped, but there was an event going on, and it was super crowded.

We soon learned why.


The owner and winemaker himself was there to pour for us, and his incredibly charming Australian accent roped us in, and his Cuvee Ellen Syrah won us over. We hope to join the Loxton wine club now that the summer is over and we can ship wine again without worrying about the heat!

Loxton Cellars Wine

Loxton Tasting Menu Loxton Syrah


Kunde Family Estate

Our final winery stop, right before meeting the TasteLive folks at Zazu, was a random stop at Kunde Family Estate. On the same road as Loxton in the Glen Ellen area of Sonoma, Kunde has a huge hillside property complete with some intriguing caves.

Kunde Caves Kunde

And beautiful grounds. . .photos of hydrangeas will have to get me through until next summer!


The Kunde tasting room is like a chalet with massive high ceilings, multiple tasting bars, and a seating area for seated tastings. Since we didn’t have a ton of time, we shared a tasting at the bar. I loved their citrusy Viognier, their Grenache Rosé, and the spicy Sangiovese. There were many wines to try, and I know we missed some of them so we will definitely be back next time we are in Glen Ellen.

Kunde Tasting Room

I know some of you are planning Napa and Sonoma trips, and though I am not an expert, I would love to share the places that I have had great experiences. I can not wait until November to be on the West Coast and in the Dry Creek Valley again!

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Tags: California, Carneros, Glen Ellen, Healdsburg, Napa, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sangiovese, Sonoma, sparkling wine, Travel, wine

  1. Michelle’s avatar

    Beautiful photos! I can’t wait to hear about the wineries that you visit during your upcoming trip!


  2. Anne@ Food Loving Polar Bear’s avatar

    I always enjoy photos and stories of your travels :)


  3. Mimi Glavin’s avatar

    Love your blog and beautiful pictures of our area! Stop by and see us on your next visit to Napa. Ask for Mimi (or bring a copy of this message) and we’ll give you a bottle of The Playful Garden’s “Rollicking Red” Cabernet!
    Best wishes,
    Mimi Glavin
    1001 Caymus St., Napa, CA 94559


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      Thank you! We will definitely stop by!


    2. alicia’s avatar

      Meghan, Love this post!! I love Sonoma so much, and every time I’ve been (twice) I’ve forgotten my camera!!! BAD FOOD BLOGGER.

      So glad you mentioned Loxton – I’ve actually been there also, and I love the winemaker. He was great, and I went home with some of his delicious port. A little glass of that and a piece of dark chocolate are all I need after a long day!


    3. Marcia Kunde Mickelson’s avatar

      Thanks for the post on Kunde Family Estate! Glad you had the opportunity to visit us. We look forward to your return! When you have a little more time to spend with us, we would love to host you on a complimentary Mountain Top Tasting for 2. It’s a great way to taste wines- at 1,400 feet, overlooking the beautiful Sonoma Valley.
      Marcia Kunde Mickelson
      4th Generation Winegrower
      Kunde Family Estate


      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        Thank you for your comment! We will be in Sonoma November 7-8 and would love to return for a Mountain Top Tasting. That sounds spectacular!


      2. Karena’s avatar

        This is what happens when I take a break from blogging! Didn’t realize you’d be back in November! I’m planning on heading to the Russian River Valley for the Food & Wine affair (Nov. 6 and/or 7…still figuring out our exact game plan). How long are you around for??


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