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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: wine

Ride a Gondola to a Wine Tasting at Sterling Vineyards in Napa Valley

Paula Gaston

Two weeks ago we did a trip to Napa Valley which I already told about you on my last post. We went to view wineries, ate well and enjoyed the mineral pools at our hotel spa. The first winery we visited was Sterling Vineyardsille which right by the city of Calistoga. While driving over the sun came out and the spring day could have not been more prettier.



Sterling Vineyards was started in 1964 by an Englishman Peter Newton. He visited California and fell in love with the beauty and wines of Napa Valley and decided to invest in his own vineyard. Later he purchased more land from close by and built a winery building at the top of the mountain hill at the premises. The building got its inspiration from a Greek island Mykonos where Newton used to also live. Winery was first opened to public in 1972.

At some point Newton bought an old church bell from England and brought it with him to the vineyard. The bells originally belonged to St. Dunstan Church which got destroyed in the World War II and was located in London. Today the bells are in use, and they ring in every 15 minutes. At this point I have to admit though, that while our visit to Sterling I didn’t hear or notice the bells, so they must not be very loud.

Sterling Vineyards produces Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Shiraz. One of the biggest achievements for Sterling must of been the win at Ottawa Wine Tasting in 1981. Their wines were also used at 2016 Annual Emmy Awards and 2017 Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. The vineyard have changed owners multiple times in the past, and one of the most interesting owners is the Coca-Cola Company. Today it is owned by a big alcohol company.



From this winery I remember more the experience than their wines. Up to the winery you take a gondola that fits four people at the time. The views up at the mountain and from the gondola are of course great. Right after getting out of the gondola they have the first tasting spot and then you can start the self guided tour. You will walk through the winery tasting different wines in different rooms, and looking at the wine making videos from huge tv screens.


The tour ended to a sun deck which had a beautiful view to the vineyard. Of course it would have been even more beautiful at summer or fall time since now the vines didn’t have any leaves. They also had a restaurant at the deck which you access by making a reservation.


I have to say that the tour was really well organised and they had thought of everything when planning this. But it somehow was lacking some personal contact. Of course, if you pay more you can get a host for your group and better quality wines, but I thought that $35 for a wine tasting was already enough. They sure know how to commercialise everything in Napa Valley. After the tour you get to keep the wine glass as a souvenir. Just like other wineries, this too had all kinds of souvenir shops and other things. But for the first time I saw that some place is selling boxes of wines at the parking lot with discounted prices.

After Sterling we continued to other wineries. This was truly an interesting start for our day at Napa Valley.

Temecula - the Napa Valley of Southern California

Paula Gaston

After spending a day in Disneyland, our road trip continued south. We had about an hour drive to Temecula Valley, where we stopped to participate in a family wedding. What a great place for such an important day! And the wedding of course, was at one of the wineries in Temecula Wine Country. 


Temecula is best known for it's wineries and the Old Town. It is conveniently located between Los Angeles and San Diego, only an hour drive from San Diego and a couple hours from L.A.. So some people call it the Napa Valley of Southern California. Since Temecula is a valley, it gets high temperatures during the day, but the weather cools off for the night time. This makes it a perfect location for growing wine grapes. In May and June mornings they sometimes get a marine layer spreading out to the valley cooling off the grapes. There are about 40 wineries in Temecula Wine Country

In downtown Temecula the buildings date all the way to the 1890's. Today, they are full of restaurants, tasting rooms, antique stores and boutiques. Every year Temecula hosts a Balloon and Wine Festival and vintage car shows. 

Our main event was at a winery called Europa Village. We enjoyed the wedding festivities and had so much fun! The actual ceremony was held at a beautiful spot right by the grape vines. I am not very familiar with the wines that Temecula produces, but I would think that they don't produce enough to be sold all over the country. That being said, one could find some really nice unique wines from here. Since I'm currently pregnant, I didn't have a chance to taste them but hopefully I can return later to drink some. 

Temecula is a great little stop if you are passing by, but I woulnd't compare it to Napa Valley yet. Maybe someday...