Friday, July 27, 2012

Food, Wine and Stunning views

Hi all!! I know I've been absent for a couple of weeks, but I've been crazy busy with work and totally slacked on the blog. I apologized for that!! But guess what?  I'm back!  Recharged and ready to start publishing all the posts I've been putting together.  Stay close, a new patio remodel is on its way, and I have many new DIY (do it yourself) projects that I want to share with all of you.

You must know by now, my husband and I love food, travel and wine.  Our last outing was a three day mini vacation to Napa and Sonoma; we had so much fun, food and wine.  I can’t believe I remember all the details of the trip...just kidding we are responsible drinkers ;).

We really wanted to make the most of the short time we had, it pays to plan these things ahead of time. While leaving a little room for spontaneity, we picked the wineries recommended by friends and others with the good ratings on Yelp.  We put together an itinerary allowing us to cover all the wineries we really wanted to experience and kept some alternates in case we had more time at the end of the day to visit them. We flew into Oakland where we rented a car and headed directly to Sonoma.  Lovely scenery!

Our first stop was  LEDSON WINERY, a Gothic Castle with a deli market and great red wines. It’s only a tasting room, so you won’t be able to see where they make the wine, but it’s actually worth going.  The tasting was a bargain for the offerings: $15 for a flight of nine and we had a 2 for 1 tasting coupon; a great deal and a perfect way to start our trip!

From Ledson's we drove to a family owned Winery called LARSON FAMILY WINERY, This place has a cozy atmosphere and very welcoming people. They're pretty small but you will have a unique experience. It's animal friendly, which we loved! And they even have their three Labs on one of their labels.

This is one of the stars on the "Three Lab Cab" label ( the one on the left)
Third stop: GUNDLACH-BUNDSCHU.  I know it's hard to pronounce but this lovely place has wonderful wines and great tours. We took the cave tour, a one hour tour leading you through the wine making process, from the vineyards to the barrel cave where you enjoy the tasting inside their cave dining room. SOOOO worth it! What a great experience and the wines are amazing.  After the tour   we went to the tasting room, and because we have the Visa Signature card we enjoyed a free tasting. After all, who doesn't like great wine for free?

After this great tasting we headed downtown for a wonderful dinner in a restaurant call THE GIRL AND THE FIG. If it has the word "fig" in the name, this restaurant is definitely for me!  The patio seating is so charming and romantic and the food and service was excellent!  We were seated outside on a large patio where we enjoyed some delicious food.  My husband had the Top Sirloin burger and I had the Goat Cheese sampler (three selections of cheese, seasonal fruit, house-made fig cake, spiced nuts & baguette), it was to die for!  After this wonderful day we drove to The Westin Verasa in Napa for a two night stay.


We started our day at the Oxford Public Market, a unique culinary experience.  Being within walking distance from our hotel we decided it was the best way to ease into the day.  We had a very gourmet Mexican breakfast from "C CASA" with a fresh veggie juice from "Oxbow Produce & Grocery” and an excellent coffee from "Ritual Coffee Roasters".

We took Highway 29 and headed to Yountville, a very charming town with the best in restaurants and hotels. We stop by the Bouchon Bakery to get a couple of pastries. Enjoying every bite seated in a patio between the bakery and the Bouchon restaurant reminiscent of a small patio in Paris. So lovely and delicious!! 

After this treat we headed north to St. Helena; the first winery of the day, VIADER.  We were so lucky our friends recommended it as a top pick; we had a great time there. The views of the valley are incredible and we had one of the best wines in Napa. We were very fortunate when we got there since we were the only ones in the testing room (by reservation only!) and Connie (the manager) took us on a private tour to see the caves and the vineyard. What a great experience! Such a perfect setup to taste the best of wines!

We headed back to downtown St. Helena, an adorable town with a couple of unique stores to look around and we made a short stop at The Culinary Institute of America. An impressive building, very Hogwarts (Harry Potter's School) style!  It was great seeing all the chefs in training and spend some time at the culinary shop.

Next on our itinerary was ALPHA OMEGA, where we had a very relaxed picnic. Our friends highly recommended this winery. I'm so glad they did.  It was perfect for a picnic with a view. Their wines are great, in particular the Chardonnay; the view from the picnic area was breathtaking.

We bought a couple of cheeses, olives and artisan bread in Sunshine Foods Market in downtown St. Helena.

Deciding we were done with tasting for the day, we just wanted to visit a couple of other popular wineries just to have- the big winery experience- so of course we stopped at ROBERT MONDAVI.  We are familiar with their wines and we like them, so we didn't feel the need to do the tasting.

After a long day of wine tasting, we had a wonderful dinner at the BOUCHON a classic French bistro by the renowned chef Thomas Keller. Beautiful location, very romantic patio, extraordinary food and quite enchanting!
We were really lucky since we didn’t have a reservation and we got in right away, I guess because it was really late; but if  you're planning on having dinner, I would definitely recommend making reservations a week or two in advance.  I know it sounds crazy! But this place gets packed every night.


Going back to the Oxbow public Market (we couldn't get enough of this place), this time for lunch at GOTT'S Roadside. Another great way to start our day! The place is local.  They have two locations in Napa and one in San Francisco. Their philosophy “Green is good".

After another great meal we drove to the last winery on our list; O'BRIEN ESTATE.  A smaller winery but it has a lot to offer. The tasting room is right next to the O'Brien's House and the vineyards are in their backyard. The staff was incredible friendly, giving us a great tour, explaining every detail of the wine making process.  And I mean every detail... It was very informative and we had some amazing wines. So impressed with the offerings, we ended up becoming club members, ha!  We will be drinking pretty good wine for the next year J Great winery and a very personal experience!! Highly recommended.

We definitely needed a couple of days off.   Indulging in this very special trip was the best way to enjoy them!

If you need more info contact me and I will be more than happy to send you our winery list with all the important details.
BTW, all of the photos you see in this post are taken by me... Feel free to use them, just shoot me an email :)