Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vacation Time! Napa, California

A lot of planning went into this vacation and I can say most of it was not done by me!  Eric's best friend and his wife were planning a trip to San Francisco and thought to invite us.  Surely they weren't expecting us to say yes.  haaaa.  My mom and grandma came out a day before our departure to learn the ropes around the house.  We still couldn't believe that we were going on vacation without kids.  We flew into SFO just an hour before Chris and Cindy (coming from Kentucky) so we ended up hanging out at the USO.  Highly recommend it to any military going through SFO!  We rented a car and headed to Napa in rush hour traffic.  We finally made it to the Marriott just in time for wine and cheese.  We ended up laughing because it was wine tasting (1 oz glasses) and pairs.  But we were given complimentary bottles of wine which got some use. 

Already opened the first bottle.
No kids! I'll drink to that.
Besides the two bottles of free wine, Marriott gave us a bunch of passes for complimentary wine tastings at several wineries.  However, Chris really wanted to see the Castello di Amorosa which was also highly recommended to us but not free.  Cindy said that it was the first place to open at 9:30 so we were there just after opening.  For $17 you can tour the grounds and get 5 wine tastings.  For $32 you get a guided tour (including dungeon and cellars) plus reserve wine tastings.  We went for the $17 tour. 

In front of the castle tower and some of the vineyard.

View from the castle

This was Chris before wine!
Cool barrels
We were told we can tour anywhere that wasn't roped off.  Well, this is what Eric went down and we should have realized the door was supposed to be closed.  Soooooo, we shouldn't have see the following things.
The door we shouldn't have gone down...but did.
Wine cellar
Hallways and hallways of barrels.
What would happen if Eric pulled this one out?
As soon as we saw the dungeon we knew we weren't supposed to be down there. 

 It took us awhile getting out of the cellar but finally found the exact ramp we went down.  We decided it was time to taste some wine.  Of course we were the first people of the day in for tastings and got this really knowledgeable guy that spoke faster than we could listen.  But, as soon as he found Eric was 'deploying', he poured us every wine he had on hand!  He was hilarious.  He would say, "I'm not supposed to pour reserve wines" as he poured us reserve wines.  Holly cow.
Enjoying way too much wine.
Ended up loving this wine and thought my mom and grandma would enjoy it, so we brought a bottle home.
Cindy is enjoying it too.
Last picture of the castle.
We left the castle at 11am and I was toasted.  That's how much wine we ended up drinking.  It was crazy.  Especially knowing we were going to Sterling across the street.  More free wine!  We got to ride a tram up the hill to the winery.

View from the tram.

Sterling was a little less personal but still got to taste 5 wines on a self guided walk through the winery.  I remember the petite syrah the most because the guy gave me a double pour.  haaaaa.  The best part of this winery were the free wine glasses.  I can't imagine paying the $25 per person to go here.
By the time we finished Sterling we were needing some food.  Friends of ours highly recommended V. Sattui.   The guy that built the castle made all of his money from V Sattui and I can understand when a sandwich costs $10!  Oh well, the setting was wonderful and we enjoying taking a break from wine.  We decided to save the $5 per person for wine tasting (which is pretty cheap) and head to the next winery, Provenance.  None of us got really excited about the wine there so it was a quick tasting. 

Next stop, Beaulieu Vineyard, possibly known to you as BV.  Again, free tastings and these wines were good.  I'm fairly confident we had more than 5 wines and we got to taste some reserve wines too.  Man, this place had some good wines!
Chris and Cindy...very happy.

My favorite red wine from the entire trip, BV Reserve Pinot Noir. 
BV also had a Raspberry Port that was amazing, especially when it followed some of their Cabernet Chocolate Sauce.  I could have camped out at this winery for the day.

I love this picture because it just shows how happy people are in Napa!
Our last stop for the day was Acacia Vineyard.  It was off the beaten path than the rest of the Napa Wineries and more on the way towards Sonoma, but it was our last free tasting coupon.  We wanted to use it.  It was one of the more scenic to get to, truly rolling hills with vineyards all around.  The wine was tasty but nothing worth a purchase.  We managed to make it back to the hotel.  Only because I wasn't driving!
Our last winery for the day, Acacia.
We saw a fish taco place on the corner of the street by our hotel so we went there.  It was good, but the guys were adamant that we stop at the taco truck across the street before heading back to the hotel.  I think everyone enjoyed this food even more.  That must have been the wine talking.
What a crazy day in Napa.  I'm glad I took photos of our day or everything would have been blurry.  I'm still amazed at all the different flavors of wines I got to taste in one day.  More on our vacation in the next post.


Elena said...

Looks like so much fun! I once visited the Berenger winery for a free tasting.

Christy said...

We saw it but didn't stop. Maybe I should use that as an excuse to go back!

Tara said...

That sounds like such a fun trip! You are so funny with all the wine. I did a wine tasting dinner once with a glass of wine for each course and that knocked me out too.

Napa is so beautiful and it's awesome you got a vacation alone with your hubby!

Jill said...

I'm jealous. Looks so much fun.