You can find the Travel Vlog of my Weekend Trip on YouTube!
September 20-21, 2019
My Birthday Spent in Napa Valley, California!
To hear about an adventure consisting of: my 24th birthday, a sunny weekend in the sunshine state, my high-volume/high energy Filipino family, an underground cave, the best grape juice, a gondola ride, and a castle -- keep on reading!
An idea came to fruition when some of my family members and I realized that there were four of us that had September birthdays -- two of my aunts, one of my cousins, and myself. That cousin currently resides in California, so we all came up with the idea to visit her in California and spend a weekend in Napa Valley, CA. The weekend that worked with everyone’s availability ended up being my actual birthday weekend, so I then talked my parents into going on a road trip with me instead of flying like everyone else.
In my previous blog post (to read Part 1 click here!), my parents and I spent four full days driving down to Yosemite before joining the rest of my family for the weekend. This blog post will be Part 2 of my birthday trip spent in Napa Valley, California!
After 5 hours spent driving from Yosemite to the Napa area, my parents and I met up with my two cousins, Clarice and Em, and my three aunts, Aunt Ginger, Aunt Mel, and Aunt Shirley. Beringer Vineyards, located in St. Helena, was the first winery we toured, and the only winery we toured that Friday.
With an impressively designed house, called the Rhine House, welcoming you to the grounds as you turn off the main road, Beringer was founded in 1876. We were told by our tour guide that it is known to be the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley. Maybe it’s the history buff in me, but I highly recommend scheduling a tour at each winery that you visit! It’s a great way to learn about the roots of each place, while simultaneously trying their selections of wine!
I loved that we started our Napa Valley weekend at Beringer. The reason being that Beringer was known to be the first winery to give public tours, creating the wine tour culture that Napa Valley is known for today.
After our cave tour, we made our way to the Rhine House to continue sampling as walk-ins. My aunts and I also ordered a charcuterie board to go with our wine.
We debated on going out to a restaurant for dinner, but decided that we were all too tired from our travels. We ended up ordering pizza to enjoy from the comfort of our Airbnb instead, and that was how we concluded the evening.
Day 2 was my birthday! :) And filled with a majority of the events for this weekend trip. We had three winery tours planned for the day, followed by our birthday dinner in the evening.
We started the day with brunch at V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena. It was a gorgeous area to sit and relax with everyone. We all sat at a large picnic table under the shade and happily munched on cheese, crackers, pasta, and sandwiches. (I enjoyed Applewood Smoked Cheddar -- my favorite!) Em also bought us a bottle of grape juice to enjoy, and I had never been so excited about grape juice before that moment! IT. WAS. SO. GOOD!
With bellies full and our eagerness to try more wine, we drove over to Calistoga to our second winery of the day, Sterling Vineyards. Wedged on a hill, guests need to ride a gondola in order to make it up to this winery. In my opinion, I felt like it truly added to the experience! My mom and my Aunt Ginger, however, would disagree with their fear of heights… luckily they made it up just fine with many laughs during the experience!
Sterling allowed a self-paced tour, so we made our way around the grounds trying the various reds and whites. My Aunt Shirley took a liking to the Merlot tasting that they offered, and one wine tasting in particular caught my attention -- the Malvasia Bianca. My dad ended up buying a bottle for me to enjoy as a birthday gift, since he liked it too! Haha :)
Our next tour wasn’t for another hour or so, so we sat and relaxed at Sterling until it was time to make our way to the last winery of the trip, which also happens to be a castle! This was the winery that I was the most excited for, and the one that Lucas, Meghan and I were supposed to tour back in May.
Castello di Amorosa (also in Calistoga) was completed in 2007 and designed by winemaker, Dario Sattui. He wanted to honor his Italian culture, so he had stone and bricks imported from Europe to build his medieval dream. With a signature drawbridge at the front, towers, a moat, and even an armory, it was incredible! My family and I had a lot of fun taking in the art and architecture as we waited for our tour to begin.
We were able to learn a lot of fun facts about Castello di Amorosa through our tour guide who led us through underground areas not open to the general public. One of those areas being the torture chamber! The tour ended with over 10 wine tastings, so we left fully satisfied with our experience. La Fantasia was the crowd favorite by the end of the night!
After an hour or so between Castello di Amorosa and dinner, we went back to the Airbnb to change and get ready to leave for Napkins Bar and Grill. They were pretty busy despite our reservation, but we still left with full stomachs!
Our evening was spent playing cards together downstairs, and eating birthday cake. All the laughs made it the most perfect way to end my birthday!
Annnd that's a wrap!
This trip was WAY too much fun! Given that I was traveling with my family, I knew that our high energy and high volume would create a fun atmosphere - but my expectations were still blown away!
I feel so blessed to be able to spend such an adventure-filled trip with my loved ones! All the wine was just an added bonus ;)
What’s exciting is that we all decided to make some kind of September trip an annual thing if we can! Ideas like Palm Springs and Las Vegas have been whispering about, but who knows where we’ll all go next time!
Cheers to family and wine country!
Storytelling by Gen
Travel diaries from explorations and adventures.