#Instafriend Wine Time

Four weeks straight of wine tasting? Welcome to my world. Poor me, right? It’s rough being a Concierge and Certified Travel Agent. This time around, I was on a tour with GP Tours. I book my hotel guests with this company as they pick up my guests from right in front of the hotel, are super friendly when I call them and my guests always have a great time. I now can say I also had a great time.

Many of my blog posts include my #Instafriend, Julia, a friend I saw every week for probably the first six months of knowing her. She even has her own label on this blog. I was holding monthly events highlighting women and one month in December and I met this wonderful, energetic woman. My event included Marines and Toys for Tots at a restaurant and bar I used to co-own, and a long night and a great time, just like this tour to wine country. We couldn’t believe this was our first time going together!

This tour has recently been added and costs $199 per person, $189 for seniors. It’s a long day but includes a tour at Robert Mondavi Winery, a to-be-renamed winery with a great lunch from Peju Winery and a stop in Downtown Sonoma for more wine and free time.

We met in Hayes Valley at the GP office after I retrieved two coffees and two butter croissants from Boulangerie. Julia asked for a flat white coffee, a latte without foam. I had no idea term. Non-coffee drinker here. At the office, we met another Julia, our driver, as well two gentlemen that I have spoken to several times via phone but have never met. As mentioned, I book my hotel guests with them a lot even though the commission isn’t as high. They were very appreciative of the business.
We were the first ones in the van and I chose to sit near the front as I get a little nauseous. We then made our pick ups and we met folks from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Virgina, Atlanta, Georgia and San Diego. Of course, we were the ones talking non-stop and encouraging people to talk and join us at tables throughout the day. Before we even made it close to wine country, we had the couple behind us make a dinner reservation at China Live, one of our favorite spots. This One Busy Bee and Italian Woman’s Club President that both have marketing and advertising experience can be pretty influential, especially on a one-on-one experience. 

We arrived at Robert Mondavi Winery and we all bee-lined for the restroom. Back at the front of the mission-like winery structures, we were greeted by Mike, our Tour Guide. He was Mike #3 on the tour, along with the two Julias. We started with a tasting of fume blanc and an explanation how to taste the wine along with the history of how Robert Mondavi went to Europe to learn about making good wine. Julia loved the fume blanc, another name for Sauvignon Blanc. This one was no different. I got finished her serving.

The tour continued in the open area where they put on their concert series. We tasted grapes directly from the vines, moved onto the balcony overlooking the vineyards, the area where the conversion/magic happens and their storage areas. We received a taste of their Cabernet, which is more up Julia’s alley. I tried both the Cab and the Moscato which I really enjoyed.

Our tour ended which happened to be right next to the gift shop with 45 minutes left to spare. We decided to go to the tasting room which has moved since the last time I was on property over 10 years ago. I was pretty happy with my Moscato but Julia purchased the $40 tasting flight of their reds. We tried their Pinot Noir, a Zin I believe, and two more Cabs, one priced at $170 retail. Of course we both liked that one. We saw our another lady on the tour with us named Barbara and she was from Milan, Italy. I invited her to come join us and Julia was more than happy to share the nice pours.

Julia prefers a rose because it’s so easy to drink and bought a good amount there among other bottles. I left with a bottle of the Moscato and Rose. Not like I need more wine at home…

We were all a little more loose after this trip. The noise level in the van definitely increased. We were then on our way to L.E. Winery, which I discovered was Liana Estates, a place Nikki B and I went to during a raining wine tasting day out during Napa Valley Restaurant Week. Apparently there is already a winery named Liana Estates and they had to change their name. The final name is TBD and no one will tell us. BUT, they are still keeping their white blend. It is probably my favorite white blend, therefore two bottles came home with me.
We were welcomed to the estate by Sigh (perhaps the wrong spelling) from the Caribbean and escorted to our table for lunch and our flight of wine. The lunch came from Peju Winery, their sister winery, and it consisted of chicken, string green beans and an al dente pasta salad. Pretty good! We kept the conversation going at the table and I think I did that partially because I love that accent.

We then went on a mini tour of their facility. From our lunch table, find one bocce ball lane, a covered patio and inside past the tasting counter, find places to sit inside and then find yourself in the area where the magic happens through the glass doors. Though very clean, Sigh assured us it is an absolute mess come harvest time, which we are quickly approaching. It’s not all fun and games like Lucille Ball in the famous episode of I Love Lucy.

Nothing is out of reach for this One Busy Bee.

After the quick tour, I found Julia at the tasting counter and chatting with Santiago, a slender man and very receptive to our very outgoing personalities. Julia wants to come back for the cupcake pairings. She purchased her bottles of wine, as did I. I tried to convince Santiago to tell me the new name, whispering that I wouldn’t tell a soul! He whispered back, “I can’t tell you.” But what he could do is take us upstairs to the private and VIP tasting room. What a comfy spot! No one else on our tour even knew where we were. My job definitely has its benefits.

We rejoined our group and made our way back on the bus headed for Downtown Sonoma. We circled the square and Julia, our driver, pointed out points of interest such as chocolate spots, cheese tastings, the mission itself and Sweet Scoops. Julia decided we were going there. But before that, we parked in front of the Lake Sonoma tasting room and continued our consumption of wine which was included in our tour fee.

I believe we shared a tasting, at this point, a tasting of my own was not necessary when your #Instafriend gives you majority of the white wine she doesn’t like. We obviously opted in for the red wine flight and the cheese and charcuterie plate because, that is life. It’s a perfect pairing and the board was plentiful and enough to share. The group exchanged more laughs, foul language was made vocal from San Diego (and in front of her mother) and we played a risque game of Mad Libs.

Next, we made our way across the square to Sweet Scoops where Julia tried almost every flavor. I went with my go to, Cookies and Cream. See my Cookie Monster Frostie Roll HERE. I went with a shake this time to keep it clean in the bus. Julia did the same and I can’t remember what she ordered but it seemed more like Dulce de Leche or gr
aham cracker like. I could be wrong. Again, you get a lot of wine on this tour.

Boarding the bus one last time before our ride to San Francisco with milkshakes in hand and everyone was happy and very talkative. I moved to the front of the bus to chat a bit more business with Julia. When we got to the city, she turned the bus’ microphone to me as I pointed out my favorite parts of the city. As we dropped guests off, I gave them each a card and a hug. You get close and make new friends on these tours. I just love traveling, don’t you? You can never have enough friends.

But my #Instafriend is one of a kind and I’m happy to have her with me in life and especially on this tour. See other posts with her own label. It’s always a good time.

Book your wine country tours with me! It’d be my pleasure.

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