Exploring the Vineyards of Central California

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In May 2015, we traveled to California for a two week road trip. We've always had a deep love for wine—what better place than Central/Northern CA to tour some amazing wineries while on the road? Each winery we visited had its own unique story and history, and their local wines were delicious (probably some of the best we've ever had).

We also enjoyed fabulous weather on the days we visited the vineyards, which was perfect for photo documentation.

Black Stallion Estate Winery

We were absolutely blown away by this winery, enough so that we promptly joined their wine membership. Black Stallion Estate Winery is located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. The expansive estate sits on an old equestrian race track (hence where the winery gets its name) and has acres of small vineyard lots, each of which produce carefully crafted, high-quality batches of red, white, and rose wines. Black Stallion Estate Winery sells white label wines at liquor stores across the United States, so it's possible you've seen them pop up in the last couple years, but their top wines are black label wines that can only be purchased online or through their wine membership.

We didn't get any pictures of the estate itself, but it's absolutely gorgeous. Black Stallion boasts a beautiful outside lounge as well as a tasting room (feel free to walk right in!), fancy meeting rooms, and a private wine cellar for events.

If you're in the area, we highly recommend stopping by and trying some of Black Stallion's delicious wines. Even if the wine itself doesn't impress you, the scenery and outdoor gardens are well worth a look.

Rideau Vineyard

Rideau Vineyard is located in Solvang, California, which is just between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria. We took a road trip up Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway), so popping over to stop at Rideau Vineyard for a few hours was really easy!

The winery is located on stunning land, which a lovely little adobe right in the middle of the property. The owner of the winery lives just up the hill (you can see her house from the adobe, which holds the tasting rooms) and throws several parties every year. Despite its popularity, however, Rideau Vineyard produces small lots of high-quality wine and only distributes locally and online.

Rideau Vineyard offers winery tours, which we highly recommend if you're in the area and want to learn how the wine-making process works. We were given a walking tour with several wine samples and enjoyed every second of it.

Castello di Amorosa

A winery/vineyard with its very own Italian castle? That's exactly what Castello di Amorosa is. Located just up the road from Black Stallion Winery, Castello di Amorosa is nestled in the hills of Napa Valley and boasts a beautiful, Italian-inspired castle that was completed and opened in 2007. The history of this winery is fascinating, to say the least (you can learn all about it at their website). It may not be an authentic castle, but man oh man, does it feel like one!

Unfortunately, we weren't as impressed with their wines, but the views and the history behind the castle completely made up for that. We don't regret stopping by at all. Just take a look at the pictures to see why!

We went to a few other wineries in Napa Valley, but we were in a rush and didn't get any photos. Napa Valley's wineries all close around 4 p.m. which doesn't leave too much time to browse everything Napa Valley has to offer! But we're looking forward to making Napa Valley (and Sonoma Valley) a trip in itself some day. Maybe then we'll be able to create a series of winery photo blog posts!

As a bonus, here's a video Ben took while we were trying to find the exit to Castello di Amorosa. Can you tell someone's a little bit tipsy on wine? :D


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