Following our exciting morning balloon ride, we hopped onto the Platypus Wine Tours bus ready to get our swirl, sniff, and sip on, still carrying mimosas from breakfast! I'd figured that the best way to see some wineries was to take a local tour, which eliminates the concern of drinking and driving, as well as allowing us to visit some wineries we may otherwise not have thought to try that were off the beaten path. Platypus did a wonderful job organizing an eventful day and we were lucky in that the whole group of 10 that we were with wound up being so much fun and laid back.
The first stop was Rutherford Ranch, the largest of the wineries we visited. Everyone chuckled when the first thing our host asked us was whether anyone did not want the chocolate with his or her wine tasting -- what kind of heathens did he think we were?! Of course we all wanted chocolate with our wine if the offer was on the table! Though Ashley was understandably disappointed in the lack of Italian varietals (and who can disagree that Italian wines are the best wines in the entire world hands down), the Rutherford wines paired wonderfully with their locally made chocolates and were each distinguished in their own category. By this I mean that though I don't usually drink Cabernet Sauvignon or the like, I think that the ones we tried were great examples of each, all of them light and smooth.
Our second winery was one of my favorites -- Casa Nuestra was one of the first wineries in the area to really dedicate their production to growing organically and sustainably. Or rather, the way our host explained it, they'd always grown that way and had never seen the need for chemicals. In addition to producing rare varietals of wine (for the area of Napa Valley) like my favorite white wine, Chenin Blanc, they have an organic farm and a small tribe of goats. I spent a good portion of my time here happily nabbing mint leaves from the garden and traipsing over to the goats to feed them and take goat selfies. Their breath was minty fresh by the time our bus left.
The next winery was the Tudal Winery, a fun and eclectic family owned property that has been passed down through four generations of winemakers. The place was charming, with seating areas under vine-covered archways, games like cornhole and giant Jenga, a melee of decorative wine-bottle crafts, and a host that had no problem pouring that second and third glass of rosé (not that any of us needed it at that point).
Our fourth and final visit was to Hopper Creek, where upon exiting the bus we were greeted by a yapping dog that took up most of my attention from there on and sparked a heated conversation about the merits of dogs versus cats. Though I was outnumbered by (insane) cat people, I stuck to my everlasting love of canines. Here we watched the sun set behind the rolling hills casting a glowing light on all of the vines, a glorious end to what was an increasingly hazy day. It was at this point that everyone decided we were all the best of friends and we took to frolicking through the vineyards taking tons of photos, sloshing about merrily. We all agreed that the wines at Hopper Creek were the best and I'm fairly certain we tried them all -- our host was very generous. I of course had to point out that none of us could really even taste the wines at that point, but no one seemed concerned...
It was truly such a fun day and I'm glad we got to see some of the smaller vineyards in the area before touring some larger ones the following day.