Crossing off #7 and #99 – in one trip

99. go on a girl’s weekend

7. go wine tasting in Napa Valley, California

done and done. Being able to check two items off my 101 in 1001 list is an awesome feeling. :)

Last weekend I flew to Sacramento and spent the weekend with my cousins and some adorable new friends. We started Friday night off with my cousin Jenni’s bridal shower. Her MOH Summer did a fantastic job on all the details.

(two notes on the photos to follow: 1. I watermarked them all, but the ones of all us girls outside the wineries were taken by Steve the limo driver, the one inside v.sattui was taken by one of the guys working there and 2. i love instagram. have we discussed this enough? :) )

Then we were up early Saturday morning and after a delicious breakfast send off by her mom and Aunt (I should note – we had the most amazing food and I didn’t take 1 photo of the food this weekend, which is rather odd for me) we piled into the cars and started driving south.

We arrived at the Silverado Resort and after getting situated into our room we walked back up to the front entrance to meet up with Steve our limo driver.

After a quick chat we hopped in the limo and Jenni opened a bottle of bubbly to get started…

Our first group photo of the day – in front of the limo outside V. Sattui Winery. Left to right the girls are Monica, Melissa, Nina, Jenni, Rachel, Summer, CC, and me.

Inside we had one of the other guys working take a photo of us with our wine-pouring-host-dude (what would he be called? seriously.) He was great. We all did the $5 tasting – 5 wines off a list. Summer and I are not wine drinkers. Her less so than me, I like a sweet white wine. We tasted the Chardonnay and the Riesling – ok, but not as sweet as I’d have liked. He poured us Muscat next – which was ok. Then he poured Summer and I Moscato – um, hello syrup-y sweetness. lol. We tried a port, didn’t like it, he dumped it out and poured us more Moscato. We probably had 3 tastings of Moscato alone. All the while he was back with the other 6 girls pouring reds and whites and answering questions. Super helpful dude.  Something to note about V. Sattui – they have an Italian Marketplace next to the tasting room with the most wonderful selection of cheeses and food ever. And hands down the best artichoke spread I’ve ever had. Monica bought some and we snacked on it in the limo. It was amazing.

After our tasting we hung out outside while a few girls shopped inside. This is me and Jenni, the bride-to-be, my cousin, and friend. (I’ll get all sappy on you for a moment. I’m beyond blessed to have a close family. Across the board. My mom and her dad have 7 other siblings. Most of them in California where they were all born/raised. My parents moved to Michigan, so growing up I’d see them every other year or so. But we were always close. When Grandma Katie passed away I heard a few of my aunts talking that they hoped the family would stay close since she was the centerpiece that kept us all connected. From my perspective we’re still close. Some of my family has since moved further away. And again, I’m not local, so I still see the family spastically, but more now since we’re on the West Coast too. And I have to thank facebook for helping keep us cousins close. As adults, some of us with children of our own, we are all making the effort to maintain the connections we were handed at birth. We’re more spread out with some of us living in CO, MO, CA, WA, IL, MI, IN, NY, AZ, and the Netherlands. All of my aunts/uncles and a large handful of my cousins came to MI for my sister’s wedding last year. Some of them for the first time ever. It was beyond amazing to have all of them there. So having that bond and being family – and friends – is a blessing. One I am thankful for constantly.)

From here we went to Duckhorn.

Duckhorn is a beautiful property. We picked up a white when we walked in then sat down at a table on the wrap-around covered porch and had a server pour us a selection of 4 reds. Did I mention I don’t like red wine at all? I tasted each one. I still don’t like red wine. But I went with the goal of tasting and I accomplished it. This spot was very enjoyable to those who like reds. The porch was beautiful. Jenni was apologetic afterwards as the last time she was there they had a better experience, but it was fine.


Next we went to Tudal Winery. (their website doesn’t do them justice) Tudal Winery was hands down the best stop of the day. I can’t say enough wonderful things. We were greeted by Doug, our host, right out of the limo. He extended his hand and pointed to a picnic table set up with glasses, menus, and bowls of goldfish. The snack, not actual swimming fish. All the moms in the group knew this was a good thing. Goldfish are the perfect drinking snack, light, a little cheesy, a little salty. We were the only group on the property. We had everything to ourselves and we would’ve stayed all day if it was possible. The outside tasting area was full of details. The wine was good. I actually really enjoyed the Pinot Noir. You read that right. I liked a red. :) Tudal Winery is for sale. I hope that whomever purchases it keeps things the way they are. Laid back, comfortable, warm, inviting, and special.

This is our host Doug. He was the perfect amount of chatty and funny.

After our tasting Steve showed back up with the limo and we had him grab a photo of all of us with Doug. The tractor Jenni is sitting on is the original tractor that the vineyards were planted with.

Some of the random beauty at Tudal Winery


That is an old vine. Look how huge it is!


From Tudal we had time for one more winery and we went to Andretti Winery. The property was beautiful. Our host here was the most adorable older man who laughed at my dislike for anything dry. He poured me a couple glasses of Moscato (after I tried the port and turned it down I got another). I did try a couple of the whites and a red here too. I have to say – after having Moscato a couple times it is too sweet for me. I’ll stick with a good Riesling or Gewurztraminer.

This group photo is blurry – but it’s the clearest of the four that Steve took of us. The camera was set to Auto. But it’s ok. I’m just glad we had someone around to take group shots of us all day long.

Nina, Monica, and Jenni inside the tasting room…

Summer and CC talking in the courtyard…

From here we went back to The Silverado.

This was my first wine tasting experience in Napa Valley and it exceeded my expectations. Many thanks to Summer and Monica and Jenni for arranging all the details. I’ve never been with a group of 8 girls that all got along so amazingly. Let’s make this an annual trip – ok girls? *hugs* love you all


- I have to throw in a couple from the rest of the weekend. -

Sunday after getting back to Jenni’s parents house we rode horses. Her dad is a brilliant rider/rodeo star. (I can hear him laughing at this in his ‘no I’m not’ voice, but he’s good. My kids call him Cowboy Tracy. Not Uncle Tracy.)

and on my flight home I had the best view of Mt St. Helens…

About Danielle Nielsen

I am a photographer who loves to bring out the best in you and your life. Capturing those little moments that make you special are my favorite. I am an "on location" photographer and available for travel anywhere you'd like photos taken.
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13 Responses to Crossing off #7 and #99 – in one trip

  1. Terrie says:

    Wow, Danielle, you have a genuine gift!! Proud to call you my niece…for many reasons :-)

  2. Meredith says:

    Jealous! I want to take a trip like that! Love the shot of the wine glass shadows on the menu!

  3. Alex says:

    Looks like you guys had a great time! Lovely photos to save the memories :)

  4. rich says:

    looks like it was one super fun trip! love how you documented it all with beautiful photos!

  5. Erin says:

    Awesome! Just checked out your list of 101 things. I’m a huge fan of National Parks too, especially the ones in Utah, don’t miss those! Good luck with completing your list! :)

  6. Gina Lewis says:

    I love all of your detail shots! Beautiful!!!

  7. Pingback: 101 in 1001 — Captures Life Photography

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