Travel

Napa + San Francisco

This was my second trip to Napa, but my first during harvest. Both times to celebrate a friend’s 40th Birthday. There’s no better place to celebrate than in Wine Country with the girls.

We arrived in San Francisco and decided to spend some time in the city before checking in to our Airbnb in Sonoma. We rented a car and took a short drive to Twin Peaks; a beautiful area with lots of photo ops. We hiked {walked} for about an hour and checked out the gorgeous SF skyline. We were so lucky to have fantastic weather that week.

After Twin Peaks, we drove downtown to Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for some croissants, cruffins and pastries to go. Lunch was at Boudin’s. Boudin’s is located at the Fisherman’s Wharf and a SF staple (tip: get the bread bowl). California is not the place to diet. Food is farm fresh and amazing. Spare no expense while indulging! You won’t regret it. Our days revolved around breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner reservations. The Fisherman’s Wharf area is somewhat touristy and a little dirty, but if you can get past that – it really is a great place to wander around. You’ll get a great view of Alcatraz and if you have time, take the tour.

Over the Golden Gate Bridge we went and into Wine Country. I’ve been a big fan of Airbnb for a few years now. I haven’t had a bad experience yet (use code: ANGELA648110 for $40 off) and we found the perfect 3 bedroom, 2 bath house in Sonoma Valley. The patio was beautiful and relaxing. The home was well managed and the owner made sure we were comfortable.

“Our meal was great, weather was perfect and the wine was well……its Napa – the wine is always good.”

Our first night in Napa, we enjoyed a beautiful dinner at FARM located at the Carneros Resort. The outside patio was perfect for apps and a glass of wine. We were slightly disappointed that our patio server wasn’t more educated on the wine, but once seated inside, the service was excellent. Our meal was great, weather was perfect and the wine was well……its Napa – the wine is always good.

The next morning, we enjoyed a cool run through Sonoma Valley (we actually got to run every day because the weather is soooo nice) and then headed to Saint Helena for brunch at Auberge du Soleil. I researched for weeks on where to eat in Napa and we were fortunate enough to hit the hot spots. We were never disappointed by the restaurant selections (all booked via Open Table anywhere from 30-90+ days in advance). The views were magnificent here.

Our first wine tasting was at Robert Biale. This Vineyard is known for a zinfandel called “Black Chicken”. Luckily, the Birthday Girl, J and her husband are wine connoisseurs. She loved the story behind this vineyard and it was at the top of her list. Making mostly reds, J and A were in heaven. I am certain they shipped a few cases home. We spent about 3 hours at this vineyard leaving us enough time for a visit into Yountville. We enjoyed a more casual tasting at Stewart Cellars, then walked a few blocks down to The French Laundry Culinary Garden. It was extraordinary. A gardener’s dream. A quick stop by the popular Napa Valley Sign, then into Saint Helena for dinner at Goose and Gander. Again, every meal is exquisite. All farm to table, fresh and local.

The next day we had another tasting scheduled at St. Supery where J and her husband are club members. We were treated to a wine tasting and cheese flight on the patio. Another perfect weather day! I should add that we used Uber or Lyft most of the time, even though we rented a car. We did get lucky and found a personal driver that we hired to spend the day with us for a fraction of the cost we were paying Uber/Lyft. He was knowledgeable and had winery connections. After our first tasting, we stopped by Grgich Winery where we stomped on grapes and ate grapes off the vine. So fun!! Domaine Chandon was a perfect stop for some Champs on the lawn. It was little more crowded and touristy, but a must see. This was probably the busiest winery we visited. I must say that even during harvest, it wasn’t overcrowded. As long as you make reservations well in advance, there should be no problems.

Castello di Amorosa was next. A stunning castle situated high up on a hill. Probably my most favorite pictures from the trip were taken here. Hard to believe this winery is only a decade old. Here is where I bought my kids Napa grape juice that they absolutely loved. Farmstead was our dinner selection that evening and did not disappoint. Farmstead was featured in Garden and Gun Magazine, so I had to give it a try. Fantastic menu and fantastic grounds. We even splurged on dessert that evening and we typically drank out dessert.

Day five kicked off at Domaine Carneros. Wow. Breathtaking views, a couple lovely glasses of pinot noir, a yummy cheese flight and perfect weather for the patio. We had some extra time, so as we headed back to Sonoma we found a more familiar winery, Ravenswood. This winery wasn’t as fancy as the rest of the wineries we had visited, but it was fun to sit under the tent and relax. Back in Sonoma, we stopped by a girl & the fig. I had been there before (we tried to visit places we had never been) but, it was nice to have a drink at the bar and meet some of the locals. We walked over to OSO where we had the best sangria. Homemade and amazing! El Dorado was on the dinner plans that evening and was probably one of our favorites of the trip. Outstanding service.

On our last morning in Napa, we enjoyed bonuts and breakfast at Boon Fly Cafe (also on the Carneros property). I did eat here the first time I visited Wine Country a few years ago, but my friends had not and It was as lovely as I remembered. As we headed back into San Francisco for the evening, we stopped and shopped in Sausalito. A beautiful waterfront city with views of the bay. Heading out of Sausalito, we drove up the mountain for some better views of the Golden Gate Bridge before lunch at WaterBar in downtown SF. It did not disappoint. Their appetizer selections were phenomenal. Another Airbnb that evening in Noe Valley (a cute flat with great views of the city) and dinner at the cutest Greek restaurant NOVY ended our 6 day adventure. SF and Wine Country never disappoints. As much as I enjoy traveling to places I haven’t been. There’s something about California that steals a little piece of your heart. It probably has something to do with the food and wine!

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