Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Napa Vacation. Part 2.

Here is part 2 of our fabulous Napa vaca! Enjoy!

Sunday: My dad really wanted to go on the Napa Valley Wine Train, so that's what we did on Sunday morning! It was such a lovely experience, and it was great to drive up and down the whole Napa Valley to see the beautiful scenery.

Picture of our dining car, that had window all up and down so you could see the views whizzing by.
We had a 4 course dinner and enjoy these views...

Monday: We went into Sonoma to shop for a bit, then went to a winery that a local shop owner recommended called Scribe Winery. What a CHARMING winery it was! We all loved the laid back environment, views of the Carneros Valley, and the fact that their wines, bottles and labels made with such purpose. After Scribe, we went right down the road to a place that multiple people recommended to us: Domaine Carneros. We really loved this place! We sat on the patio, enjoyed a couple of cheese plates, and of course - some fabulous sparking wines and pinot noirs. Our last stop of the day was at Miner Winery where we did a tasting and cave tour. Their wines were mostly red, and we ADORED them...esp the Oracle wine! (Put all of these wineries on your Napa list!) For dinner, we ate at the famous Bottega! YUM!

Views from Scribe....

The picnic table where we sat to have our wine tasting!

They even had a rope swing for the adventurous type...my brother :) 


Patio where we sat and had our tasting.

View from Domaine Carneros.

Such great sparkling wines!

Our table :)

The fam (minus my little honey) in the caves at Miner.

Our fave! The 2006 and 2007 was the best!

One of the private rooms you can rent at Miner...so gorgeous!


Chef Michael Chiarello's Bottega. 

Copper water glasses at Bottega, which my mom and I fell in love with and promptly ordered! 

The grounds right outside of Bottega.

Everyone told us to get their truffle fries as an appetizer. Let's just say this entire plate was demolished in under 10 mins! SO SO GOOD! Behind the fries was our other to-die-for app: the heirloom tomato plate. It had fresh mozzarella and balsamic caviar on top, which was something I had never had/seen before. Little "beads" of balsamic vinegar that popped in your mouth...so tasty!

We all got something different, but I think mine was the best....hehe. I got the special, which was blue cheese risotto, grilled peaches, and melt in your mouth short ribs. Drool. 

We went light with dessert since the meal was so filling and decadent. 3 sorbets: raspberry, nectarine, and mint. Perfect ending to an incredible meal! 

I know I said I'd do our trip in two parts, but I lied. Our last day in Napa was the highlight of our trip!!! We hired a driver, and he took us to some AMAZING places we would have never found on our own! Plus we ate at one of Napa's most talked about restaurants (besides Bottega), so I wanted that to be a post all on its own. This one was getting too long anyways :) PLEASE check back soon... you won't be sorry! It has some insider places that you will want to check out when you go yourself!
Plus, I am adding a helpful guide at the end of the next post with all my picks/suggestions by region. That will help you plan your trip so much better than randomly driving all over the valley, wasting time in traffic or on the road between places. If you missed part one of my Napa trip, click here!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Napa Vacation. Part 1.

The long awaited Napa post!! I've been so excited to write about Napa for two reasons: 1) to re-live the INCREDIBLE experience all over again, and 2) to share this amazing vacation with you guys! Let me just say that going to Napa has been the #1 thing on my list of places to travel for a while. My husband had All-Star break for 3 days at the beginning of July, and I figured this would be the perfect time to go since we were so close to Napa anyways. I talked my parents and brother into going, as well, to make it a family trip! Long story short, my husband got traded to another baseball team one day into our vacation, and he had to leave early. I was bummed about that, but I know it comes with the job....plus he promised me that we would come back together! I am holding him to that.....

Here are my recommendations and pictures from our trip of a lifetime! Please let me know if there are any places in/around Napa that I need to add to my list. Enjoy! xx

Wednesday: Chris and I met my parents in San Francisco for the day, before heading to Napa. We shopped and had dinner at one of my fave SF places, Balboa Cafe.  For a review of Balboa Cafe and a list of my San Fran picks, click here.

Thursday: We headed to Napa via The Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. On our way to Napa, we got word Chris was traded to another team, all the way across the country! I knew he would be leaving the next day, so we made sure to get in at Duckhorn Vineyards, which has our favorite wine ever! (Their 2005 and 2006 Cab) Then we had dinner at the amazing Brassica, which is one of Cindy Pawlcyn's restaurants. I highly recommend going to eat here and having the bacon wrapped figs & eggplant fries for appetizer!

At Duckhorn Vineyards...

Such beautiful grounds! Wine tasting on a wrap-around outdoor porch was heaven!

How tasting was set up. As you finished one wine, they came around to pour and tell about the next.

With my parents in the vineyards of Duckhorn.

The things you MUST try at Brassica: Bacon wrapped figs & eggplant fries...with this amazing sauce!

Friday: We had breakfast at the adorable Boon Fly Cafe before starting the day off with great wine tastings. The Boon Fly Cafe serves Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner so be sure and check it out while you're in the Napa area. It's at the southernmost end of the Napa Valley, in the Carneros region, so we took advantage of being down that way to go visit a winery that a local recommended, off the beaten path. (I love that kind of thing, and so does my fam!) It was called Ram's Gate. (pictures below) Then we went to Del Dotto, which was one of our top 3 wineries/wines on the whole trip! 

Some of the views from Ram's Gate... their outdoor tasting patio overlooked the Carneros Valley.

The beautiful inside!

One of the smaller rooms. We loved the decor and architecture! 

One last family pic before Chris leaves for the East Coast!

How cute is my little mama???

Entrance to Del Dotto

Del Dotto is one of the few wineries with a cave tour, which was so cool! If I am not mistaken, it's the only one where you can taste their wines straight out of the barrel. Very fun and unique experience!
The caves were dug by hand in 1885.

Mom, dad, and I inside the caves.

Here is our FABULOUS guide, Tim, pouring wines from the barrel into our glasses. We got to do a couple of side-by-side comparisons of wine aged in American oak barrels vs French oak barrels, which was a great learning experience! This was one of our favorite tours! You also got a great cheese & meat plate afterwards, with a little chocolate and port tasting as well. (if you go, Ask for Tim or Adam to give your tour)

Wines aging in barrels line every inch of the caves at Del Dotto.

Saturday: My brother finally arrives to San Fran, so we head back into the city to pick him up and take the Alcatraz tour! I tried to take the tour last time I was in town, but it was sold out. If you want to do this, which I highly recommend, definitely book as soon as you know you'll be in town. It sells out quickly! For dinner that night, we all met up with some SF friends at Garibaldi's - which was SO fun! They brought a couple bottles of great wine, and we enjoyed amazing food & conversation. If you go, get the lamb entrĂ©e!! We had dessert at American Cupcake, which is my version of heaven...

Cupcakes AND wine pairings?!? SOLD!

My happy place. You must go here!

I am doing our whole vacation in 2 posts, so stay tuned for the other half...I will tell you guys about our FAVORITE winery with an incredible view of the whole Napa valley! I also plan to give you guys a great guide to Napa, divided up into region. It helped me a lot, so I wanted to share it with you guys!