5 Lessons Learned From 100 Wineries In 10 Days

Updated: Jan 14

When it ended...

100 Days

100 Days of Wine

I kinda needed a break.

"I should" thoughts started to surface.

I should write a reflection.

I should wrap this experience with a pretty bow.

----Didn't have the energy for it.

I finished my 100 Wineries in 100 Days challenge in August.

It's been 5 months.

Well, with the New Year, it feels like a perfect time to be in reflection mode.

After being the FIRST PERSON,

that I know of,

to visit 100 Wineries in 100 Days...

What did I learn? How did I grow?

What were the key takeaways?

What were the common threads that ran through my experience?

Was this life changing for me on a personal level?

My thoughts:

1. Connection. Partnership. Avoid Burning Bridges.

Several heartfelt stories emerged...

One talented/innovative/passionate person meets another person with the same excitement and a connection is made.

A connection that leads to friendship and often to a business partnership.

A husband and wife whose life dream is to make wine.

A grape grower who meets a winemaker and a wine label is born.

Two best friends working as waiters and a hair-brained idea becomes a reality when they start making wine in their garage.

I could go on.

The stories of people meeting....

and bonding and collaborating...

that then develops into wineries and wine.

Husband And Wife Team At Belden Barns

These stories are reminders of how important it is to connect with others.

To avoid burning bridges if at all possible.

That partnership and unity of people coming together to enjoy wine and make wine is a perfect blend. No pun intended. ; )

And let's not forget the partnership and connection to Mother Earth.

I sensed a deep reverence to Mother Earth in my wine travels.

The agricultural mindset...

Tend to her, analyze her, feed her nutrients, keep her happy.

Stick with her through her weather tantrums and unruly behavior.

She may make winemaking incredibly challenging, but she yields an incredible bounty.

2. Magic and Scientific Mystery

I found myself very mystified and intrigued by:

Biodynamic Farming while at Littorai, Benzinger and Preston.

I went on to buy a Biodynamic book at Preston Winery called,

Biodynamic Gardening by DK.

Biodynamic Tour At Beninger

See, I have a lot of witchy woman in me.

There was something about biodynamic farming that piqued my moon goddess curiosities.

I didn't know grape growing and wine making had this spiritual/mystical, magical, super earthy element to it.


Now. Before I go further with this...

Not all wineries have to be biodynamic to be fabulous.

Many wineries use biodynamic, organic, and sustainable practices and have not gone to the great lengths and expenses to get the stamp of certification.

Biodynamic is by no means the be all and end all of perfect winemaking.

I think it's just cool.

Biodynamic Practices At Littorai

Biodynamic connects with the seasonal cycles and natural rhythms of the earth.

It's about healthy soil.

Putting more nutrients back into the soil than what you take out.

A metaphor for life perhaps?

Making compost, conserving water, welcoming wildlife...

And then getting really into it.

Making plant teas.

Taking stinging nettle leaves, adding them to boiling water, straining, and then applying as a spray.

Tracking the full moon and allowing the moon to guide when to prune, manure, harvest...

Do you know about horn manure?!?!?

I didn't either.

Cow manure stuffed in a cow horn that is buried for six months over winter.

I could go on!

You really have to make an appointment and visit Littorai Winery to get the full biodynamic scope.

Bottom line.

I'm fascinated by the science, practices and traditions of a winery.

3. Ambiance. Soul Healing.

It used to be the ocean.

At least 4 times a year I had to head to the ocean.

To clear my mind, breathe in the salty air, get connected to nature.

Then I got into Hygge.

That Danish life-style philosophy.

In Denmark it's cold and dark and damp.

They developed a state of mind and way of living to combat the dreary.

Candles, blankets, comfort food, games...

I'm all about Hygge living.

The View At MacRostie

After visiting 100 wine tasting rooms...

I find the wine tasting experience is the perfect combo of nature grounding and cozy/relaxing ambiance.

Looking out over a sea of green grape vines. A heavenly view.

The epic view at Kunde!

Sonoma County wineries roll out the red carpet for their guests:

Plush patio furniture

Marble countertops

Succulent centerpieces


Spotless stemware

Freshly picked flowers

Wine and food pairings like out of Michelin Star restaurants.

And they even offer creative experiences like blending your own wine!

Lavender and Vines at Kistler

I often said in my Instagram captions over the 100 Days...

I'm in Italy, just landed in France, I jetted off to Spain.

All of these places without ever getting on a plane and leaving California.

It's incredible how wineries truly are the adult version of Disneyland.

A sea of grapes at Rochioli

Through landscaping, architecture, and impeccable attention to decor detail I traveled around the world in my 100 Days.

4. Price Tag Shock

I admit it. Before I dated a winemaker.

Before I even really liked wine.

I'd buy 2 Buck Chuck at Trader Joes.

In my teaching days I'd NEVER splurge on wine.

Way overpriced. I didn't understand people who collected expensive wines.

What a waste of money I thought for something you just consume.

Well, hmmmmmmmm, I was naive.

Porter Bass Winery

About 1 winery into my challenge my perspective broadened.

Seeing all the overhead costs:

Fabulous hosts

Amber! The fabulous host at Pangloss!

Top-of-the-line winemaking equipment

Vineyard maintenance

The arduous process of keeping vines happy, healthy, bug/ice/and drought free.

The workers. Harvesting late into the night and early in the morning.

Hard At Work At Joseph Swan


Often passed down through generations.

I believe wine making and grape growing is a talent.

I think it really hit me when I sat down with Sam Coturri, son of grape growing legend Phil Coturri.

Family Photos Of The Coturri's

We discusses how wine is bottled poetry. A masterpiece in a bottle.

No year is ever the same.

Each vintage is truly an encapsulation of the year.

I bought a bottle at every single winery I visited.

Silver Oak, Donum, Kistler, Hirsch.

I mean the price tag on these bottles and this challenge as a whole was NOT CHEAP.

Since the challenge, I have opened a few of my 'wine bottle babies' for friends.

There is no price tag on this experience.

Opening a wine treasure.

Sharing it with friends.

Telling them about my experience at the winery.

Seeing their faces soften and relax when they take that first sip of liquid gold.

Pay the price. Splurge.

5. Wine Typecasting. Give it time. A palate evolvution.

I was that girl. Before the challenge started.

All opinionated in my wine preferences.

Never letting a drop of Chardonnay touch my glass.


Looking past Cabernet. "I'm a Pinot girl."

Not my most shining moments on my wine journey.

I see others doing this too.

It's ok. Nothing wrong with it.

Everyone has different palate preferences and gravitate towards certain wines.

And the wine industry seems to be super accepting of this.

Nobody wants to be the wine snob anymore.

The thing is...

I really appreciated those on my 100 Day Journey who:

Pushed me out of my wine comfort zone.

Kistler turned me into a Chardonnay lover.

Pangloss's Moon Mountain Cab and Nalle Cab made my eyes roll back in my head.


Syrah was the unsung hero of my challenge.


Oh, the Piedmont Varieties at Idlewild. So cool!

When I first got into wine I was a fanatic for Pinot.

I still am.

But I've evolved. I want to keep evolving.

Especially here in Sonoma County.

How blessed are we!

A terroir so unique.

The coast, the valleys, the heat the fog.

We are producing a plethora of varietals


There you have it!

My 100 Wineries in 100 Days reflection.

Would I do the challenge again... I don't think so.

I think I might do a 10 wineries in 10 days challenge each year on the anniversary.

I love exploring wineries so it will get me out and trying new places.

Cheers to 100 Wineries!

Cheers to Sonoma County!

Cheers to all my new wine friends.

An epic ride.

Oh! And here were my ultimate fav wineries of all 100!

Check them out HERE


© 2020 Sheila Jane Co.