17 August 2012

Amazing Trip to CA: Part 1

Last spring, I mentioned we'd been invited 
to a friend's/co-worker's wedding in the UK
 and that I was getting excited for a return trip.
(Incidentally, this bride was featured on Say Yes To the Dress a few weeks
ago.  I'm not a tv-watcher so I haven't seen it yet but maybe the episode can be
identified by the bride purchasing two dresses?  The "wedding" is actually about a
week long with celebrations occurring at various locations around the UK.)

But a family wedding closer to home came up.
(Well, two actually, but more on that second one in a bit!)
So we decided to vacation in Northern California instead.
Leaving 105' to 110' temps behind, San Francisco's
53' to 67' felt amazing!  While the locals were decked
in jackets and even coats, the dh and I soaked up the
"cool" in our short-sleeves well into the night.

We had an amazing dinner at Alioto's,
enjoying a view of the sun setting over the Bay
behind the Golden Gate Bridge.
Romantic, huh?
(Kicking myself for not even getting a cell phone pic!)

On Day Two, I quickly raided Lush, 
(we don't have these where I live so I got to stock up!)
dropped back by Fisherman's Wharf for some crab 
chowder for lunch and then headed over the
G G Bridge and on up to Napa Valley.

The Arbor Guest House in Napa is exceptional-- 
definitely the prettiest bed and breakfast 
we've stayed at so far.  
I have to admit the exterior of this one seemed
a little simple to me when I perused the website
but fate led us to this one and we couldn't have
been happier!  It's gorgeous!  

(cel phone pic)

The intense colors of the roses and other flowers
that lined the entire front yard caught my attention-- 
and my gardener's heart--immediately.  
 Below, a pic of the back yard.
Note the grapes along the fence.

  I know a lot of people like to travel to the tropics
to get away but my ideal vacation includes
fine dining, R&R and...education!  Yep.
Insert the vineyard visits and wine tastings here.
How to taste wines, why some grapes are more
intense in flavor (and price!), how to match a
wine to a meal--I couldn't get enough.  
And I can't wait to read up on it to learn more.  
For a return-trip, of course!

Napa is the ideal country for wine.  
(I'll try to summarize!   And if you're an expert, please excuse my
very basic, novice explanation!)
In a valley just 30 miles long and 5 miles wide, 
there exist 33 types of soil--half of the types that
 exist on the entire planet.  When driving through,
you really can see the color of the soil change 
almost from one vineyard to the next.
(farm girl/gardener here notices weird stuff like dirt)
Grapes planted on hills have had to struggle, 
giving them a more intense, and rare, flavor.

The warm days and cool nights also add flavor.
With so many types of soil, and thus grapes, 
Napa is a winemaker's playground for blends!
(side note:  The 2008 movie Bottle Shock--Alan Rickman--depicts the true
story of how Napa earned it's reputation as a serious wine country.  It's currently
on Instant Netflix if your interested; we really like it, and so visited that vineyard.)

Some of the vineyards we visited:

Rutherford Hill 
(dh's fav)
Alpha Omega 

(their Chardonnay is now my all-time fav!  Can't wait to make meals for this!)

Chateau Montelena
(From the movie Bottle Shock--and we loved the Chardonnay!)

We kept our purchases to what is sold
only in Napa, or at least just has very limited
availability, and made notes on our other favorites.
I am just a novice but I admit it will be nice to know
a little more when making our purchases here at home!

I also picked up 3 bottles of olive oils fresh from
 Sonoma Valley.  If you're an olive oil fan like me,
you might want to give The Olive Press  a look.  
I talked with these people quite a bit 
and was very impressed.
(get it? pressed? sorry...)
I think I'll be using them a lot in the future.  
I made sure to sample as many of their products 
for this very reason.

Enough for now....Part II coming soon.


Katy Cameron said...

Sounds like a fab trip, somewhat similar in idea to our Provencal summer trips, good win, good food, and lovely scenery full of vineyards!

Debbie said...

Very neat post...I love that I learn something new from you. I have no idea how to chose wines and but have visited vineyards at Biltmore and thur NC. Trip sounds great.

Peppermint Mocha Mama said...

That was fun... we're we headed next? Plus, if I had known you were headed to such beautiful places, I would have stowed away in a cargo bag!

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