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Napa Celebration Trip

Napa Valley and Sonoma Area Trip....(very long blog post)

My hubby and I decided for our 5 year wedding anniversary we wanted to leave our 2 and 1/2 year old and go on our first trip without him. I mean he did get to go to Cabo last year with his babysitter buddy.


During our planning, Kyle changed jobs and we then decided we would go during his transition as a refresher and a way for both of us to celebrate our blessings with marriage and his new job.

We flew into San Francisco and rented a car and made the journey to the Napa Valley Area....

DAY ONE - Napa Valley (Silver Oak, Cakebread, Robert Mondavi and Mustards Grill)
Our schedule was pretty tight we wanted to go to as many of our favorite wineries as we could.

But first, a stop at In n Out...

For the first day we were there, we stuck with all wineries in Napa Valley.

Silver Oak (http://www.silveroak.com/) - We have a bottle of this at home, so we were excited to see where the wine comes from. They are known in Napa for their Cabernet Sauvignon. We did a tasting only here. 

Although beautiful, this winery was actually my least favorite out of our entire trip.

From their garden

Their grapes 

Cakebread Cellars (http://www.cakebread.com/) - They are best known for their knowledge of food and wine pairings. They do a lot of foodie events and cooking classes. I even purchased their cookbook which is full of amazing seasonal and garden fresh recipes. Tasting only here.







Learning a new swirl technique 

Last of the wineries for the day was Robert Mondavi - (http://www.robertmondaviwinery.com/) - This winery was one of the best tours, they showed you everything from grapes to production and had an awesome tasting area. I do regret not purchasing one of the cookbooks there from a local restaurant because now that I am home I cannot find it on the internet anywhere. Tour and Tasting here.





















Our hotel was AMAZING. We actually stayed in Los Carneros in the Los Carneros Inn. It was truly awesome, each room was its own little cottage complete with an oasis of a back yard. In the backyard there was an outdoor shower, bath tub, fire pit, table and chairs and a sitting area with a heater. 
Our view as we drove out of the hotel.


Our Cottage
Outdoor shower, the door on the left is actually the inside shower door, so you can go from inside to outside. 
Fire pit

Oasis. It was so awesome. 


Pathway to Main portion of hotel


Pool with surrounding views.



Sunset views.




Our first night we ate at Mustards Grill (http://mustardsgrill.com/) - by this time I was EXHAUSTED from the travel and two hour time difference so I did not get any pictures. BUT, I can recommend the amazing appetizer of fried calamari and curry slaw it was very unique and I could have probably just ordered that for my dinner. 

DAY 2 - Sonoma (The Fremont Diner, Ravenswood, Buena Vista, VJB Winery, Deerfield and Brix)

Breakfast: OMG - The Fremont Diner (http://thefremontdiner.com/)...can I get a HELL YEAH.... This place I would go back again and again. We almost cancelled our other breakfast reservations for the next day just to come back. It's a favorite local place. Everything is handmade and baked right there in front of you along with farm fresh ingredients. I had a breakfast sandwich and of course Kyle had biscuits and gravy. We had fresh french pressed coffee. 
Making homemade biscuits

Kyle's biscuits and gravy, complete with a farm fresh egg

Focusing in the Sonoma area today, our wine drinking began about 10:30am that morning after breakfast. Our first stop was at Ravenswood Winery (http://www.ravenswoodwinery.com/). Ravenswood is well known for its Zinfandel and I am officially a Zin drinker now because of it. Also, they have a FABULOUS Moscato and it even has its own portion of the Wine Club. We started at Ravenswood with a tour, then we got to create our own wine blend, then finished with a tasting of their wines.  This was my FAVORITE place.





Beginning of our wine blending. We used Zinfandel, petite Sirah (for tannins) and Carignan (for acidity). This was the most amazing experience. Very fun and very educational. 










Once our blend that we liked best was complete, they blended a larger half bottle for each of us and we then were able to cork and wax the top of our bottles. 







Finished blend of our own.
Ravenswood Merlot Grapes. 
Our view during tasting.

Next was Buena Vista (http://www.buenavistawinery.com/) - very cool. Probably would only go the one time, but it is actually the oldest winery in Sonoma. During our tour the guide was dressed  as the original owner's daughter and even used a Hungarian accent during her characters portion. Fun fact...its the 3rd most haunted winery. (Tour and Tasting)


The new owner of the winery is French, and this room is actually for VIP party guests only. Since there wasn't a party going on our tour guide let us sneak in a take a few pics. 




Self playing piano.


Lunch: VJB (http://www.vjbcellars.com/) - this was a very authentic Italian lunch spot. I can still taste the olives and salami, I even ate a wood fired pizza (no cheese of course) YUM!  



Last winery of the day was Deerfield (http://www.deerfieldranch.com/) Tasting only here, and it was cool because you actually did the tasting inside the cave of the winery (I should say my hubby thought cool - luckily I had enough wine to forget I was in a cave, YIKES). This was my second to least favorite place. 





....and Dinner. Brix (http://www.brix.com/) All I can say about this place is OMG and LOVE. Seriously. I was incredible...the views, the food, the garden, the vineyard...THE WINE. 

We both drank their estate grown Cabernet, and I started our meal with saffron mussels and Kyle had a duck liver mousse. Next I had the sea scallops and Kyle had the pappardelle bolognese. Of course we ended up purchasing wine from the estate, because they only bottle a limited amount every year and it was VERY good.

Our view from our table. Complete with Napa Valley Wine Train.

Gardens 





Sea Scallops with garden spring peas. YUM. 

DAY 3 - Rutherford, St. Helena and Napa (Caymus, Frog's Leap, Gotts, Quintessa and Redd Wood)

Holy Breakfast View - Auberge du Soleil (http://www.aubergedusoleil.com/) The food was yummy, but the view was SPECTACULAR.


Hello breakfast. 

First Stop: Caymus (http://www.caymus.com/). I mean Caymus Caymus Caymus...whats not to love really. Caymus is known for their Cabernet in the Rutherford region. Owned by the Wagner family, each member now makes their own label. My favorite is actually Belle Glos - known for their Pinot Nior -(http://www.belleglos.com/index.html) so it was a great surprise to find out they are owned by the same family....and yes we purchase a few things there :) Tasting only. This is my favorite wine. I was very much looking forward to come here and learn.

The flowers here you could smell in the parking lot...it was AMAZING.






Captured some pictures of the hummingbird that was around.


Up next: Frog's Leap (http://www.frogsleap.com/) This was my second favorite place to hang out. Complete with once again gorgeous gardens and yummy wines, the house was an incredible place. Tasting only complete with wine flight.



Garden view




Bonus: they keep all of their paint colors on hand incase you ask. Benjamin Moore paints lol




















Lunch at Gotts (http://gotts.com/) Very very very busy, but very very very worth it!

no joke. OMG good. 

Last winery of the trip - Quintessa (http://www.quintessa.com/) They are known for their wine blending and their moon based planting and growing "rituals" - I say that because our guide talked of how the owners wife takes more of a "pagan" approach to growing methods during planting and harvest and likes to be one with the earth during this time (maybe this is why its another favorite)! Complete with full tour of the facilities and tasting. This is the wine that made us want to visit the Napa area and learn more about wine. Once again stunning views.















each of the sky lights actually open up during harvest and they use this as a method of transportation for the grapes to the large fermentors. 



from the skylight the grapes travel down into the large barrels





Quintessa uses egg shaped cement barrels for some of their wine in the fermenting process.





Finally Dinner: Redd Wood (http://www.redd-wood.com/) I would say this is a place that was good, but I feel like we could have found something with more wow. It was nice because they did have a dairy free pizza. I don't know if I had too much wine that day or if I was just so amped from Brix the night before, but it just didn't WOW me as much...


Back to the real world.....
On our way back to San Francisco we actually were able to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and it was once again incredible.






a very small Alcatraz in the middle there


Last but not least, the unpacking of the wine....there are a few items we ended up having to ship

Next time around we would really like to visit during harvest and have less of an itinerary and more of a go with the flow schedule. I loved having a driver so we didn't have to worry about "drink intake" and I would also like to visit a few of the "olive oil tasting" places as well. SO MUCH FUN....GREAT vacation spot. 





























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