Saturday, August 25, 2012

Another winey weekend

Last Saturday some friends and I took a day trip up to Napa Valley for some fine wine and fine food. It was a great day -- the weather was gorgeous -- about 90 degrees, which is usually a little too warm for me, but it was dry, with a slight breeze, making it pretty ideal. We hit a total of three wineries. I'd hoped to fit in one more, but three ended up being pretty good -- we all got to enjoy the wine without anyone over doing it.

My roommate planned the trip -- she belongs to a local wine club and had several tasting passes (re: the tastings were free!). Our first stop was Sterling Vineyards ( This place was unique -- rather than just walking up to the bar ad selecting some wines to taste, the tasting was integrated with a tour of the facilities. We began with a very scenic tram ride up the mountain to the winery and the tasting room. Once we got off the tram, we were greeted with our first wine to try -- and so it went. There was a self-guided tour with various stopping points to taste the wine. I particularly enjoyed the Chardonnay here -- usually a wine that's a bit too sweet for me, but theirs just tasted like fruit and butter. Yum. The Merlot also had a nice woody hint to it. As someone who very decisively prefers white wine, that's saying something.

Provenance Vineyards ( were next. I don't remember much about the wine here -- it just wasn't that special, I guess -- but the venue was gorgeous -- like an old barn. It was very idyllic.

Our last winery was the day was Beaulieu Vineyard ( The tasting room is kind of hidden and was surprisingly busy when we got there fifteen minutes before they closed. Here was the only place I actually purchased any wine to take home -- one bottle, a Muscat, that has a strong apricot taste. Its very light and refreshing. As I mentioned, I'm a big fan of white wine -- its mostly a temperature thing (I like my drinks nice and cold and light, rather than rich and heavy like a red). Most of the wine tastings focused on reds -- Cab especially -- which I understand, as these tend to be the most popular wines, but I was a little disappointed.

After the tastings, we headed to downtown Napa. I should mention, one of the favorite things about the trip was seeing all these famous restaurants that I've heard so much about. "Oh look, there's NapaStyle and Bottega! We're in Yountville -- the French Laundry is here!" and so on. It was very exciting. Anyway, we explored Napa a little (and I had the most fabulous Nutella latte -- seriously one of the best coffees of my life) before heading to Grace's Table for dinner. It had been my task to pick a dinner spot and this was my choice -- and it ended up being a great one! We ate a ton of fresh, seasonal food in a fun yet elegant atmosphere and didn't completely break the bank. Service was a little slow, that was minor enough. Everything we ate was just delicious.

Oh oh oh! And later today, the brother and I are heading up to Mill Valley for the afternoon. We're going to have lunch at Toast (where I've already been once with the roommate, on the Fourth of July when we went to Muir Woods) -- super yummy, not too expensive, and a great atmosphere -- plus they have beignets, awesome pancakes, and a wide variety of Benedicts, which are Alex's favorite. They even have a pulled pork version. After lunch, we might poke around town for a little while and check out some antique shops -- Alex will tolerate this as long as they have records to browse through -- before heading over to Tyler Florence's shop -- something to check off the wish list! Yay! And then we're heading home and watching all six Star Wars movies. True story.


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