Shelbi Okumura is a world traveler who shares stunning images from her adventures on her Instagram account @bucketlistbums and details her experiences on her corresponding blog. She recently traveled to Napa Valley and Sonoma County on a wine-filled road trip, which she writes about here. Okumura shares highlights from her long weekend and gives recommendations for your next Wine Country trip below.
1. You drove up to Wine Country from the Bay Area, right? How was the drive and were you surprised at how quickly you were surrounded by vineyards?
Yes, I drove up from the Bay Area and then road tripped through the region for three days. It’s pretty incredible that I felt like I was surrounded by vineyards for the entire trip, and I was moving around quite a bit. There are rolling vineyards everywhere—Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa.
2. Let’s talk grape juice: Which wineries did you visit and what were some of your favorite experiences?
I’m a sparkling wine gal, but the focus of this trip was reds, which honestly was good for me. I feel like I have more of an appreciation for reds, and especially red blends (thanks to my amazing blending experience at Miner Family Winery).
3. Napa Valley and Sonoma County grow many varietals. Did any particular varietals stand out for you?
I bought a wonderful bottle of Chardonnay from Miner Family Winery.
4. Where did you stay and how were the accommodations? Did they provide a good springboard for exploring?
One of my favorite discoveries of this trip was The Setting Inn, tucked away right off Highway 29, in the heart of Napa. The place was the perfect mix of charm and luxury—and the location couldn’t have been more perfect. I’m already thinking about staying there again over the summer. It's the perfect place for a weekend getaway.
5. A woman cannot live by wine alone, so…what were some of your favorite meals on this trip?
The food was amazing on this trip. So many people associate Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa with wine … but I think the food up here is just as amazing. My two favorite spots were Gran Electrica in downtown Napa for market-driven Mexican dishes, and then my roadside feast at Gott’s Roadside.
6. What was the most surprising aspect of your trip?
Definitely Santa Rosa as a destination. I had no idea there was so much to experience as a tourist—African safaris, redwood cathedrals, incredible restaurants, and wine tasting, to name just a few things!
7. Napa Valley and Sonoma County are incredibly scenic. What was your favorite photo from your trip and why?
My photo from the redwood cathedral of the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve was my favorite. It was just an incredibly peaceful morning, and we had the trails to ourselves. I was waiting for pixies to fly out of the trees—the setting was just so dreamy.
8. What "musts" are on your list for your next visit to Wine Country?
I liked that this whole trip focused on reds, I feel like I learned a lot more that way. Would love to do something similar next trip, but focus on whites or sparkling.
9. What advice do you have for travelers considering a trip to Napa and Sonoma Wine Country?
Stay overnight! Lots of people visit as a day trip from San Francisco, or another part of the Bay Area. But if you can stay overnight, you can include so much more variety. Instead of just wine tasting, you can also do a hot air balloon ride or go on a bicycle ride or a hike.