It’s coming up on my 13th anniversary of living in Los Angeles. Crazytime! When I first moved here from NC the summer after I graduated college (and precisely the day after I turned 22 on a week long road trip with my dad) I knew two people. And by knew, I mean my mom and I had taken two friends of friends to lunch six months prior when we visited LA over my spring break. I was lucky in that within a pretty short amount of time I met a lot of other Southerners, who had also moved to California to seek fame and fortune (a tale as old as time). Though most of that big group of friends have moved back to start families and live a more sensible existence, those years bind us all and I think we pretty much all feel that we could call each other at 2am for any slew of emergencies and we’d all come running. Christi was one of my very first good friends here and she introduced me to Christine. Christine and I became each other’s last roommate before we both tied the knot a month a part. Christine now lives in Dallas with her hubby and two children, while Christi is wrapping up a sabbatical (as I’ll call it) in Charleston to hopefully move back to LA (best news ever). The three of us have started getting together for a little reunion at least once a year. This year we chose Napa.
And so it begins…We flew into San Francisco, booked a car and made the hour and half trek to the Avia Napa Hotel, now owned by Hyatt. I was a little worried (#highclassproblems) that being in downtown would be a little too touristy, but I was pleasantly surprised! Being that this was a girls’ weekend, we didn’t need an incredibly romatic boutique property in the middle of a vineyard (see Hotel Les Mars). Our room wasn’t quite ready upon arrival, so we walked one door down (a huge plus to the location of our hotel) to the John Anthony Vineyards tasting room and started the weekend off with a little cheese plate (and wine, of course).
In a few short hours, our room was ready and to our delight, we had a bathtub in the master suite. “How romantical!” became the weekend phrase. All jokes aside, I loved this hotel. It’s new and modern and after switching to a room with two king beds (as opposed to 1 king and a pull out sofa, which was awful), the only thing missing was a pool. But, who needs a pool when there are so many wineries to visit?
We toasted to our first night at the fabulously posh Restaurant at Auberge Du Soleil with views of the breathtaking vineyards as if Provence and California collided. It was, in fact, “so romantical!”
First up…wine, an El Molino Pinot Noir 2008. Followed none to closely by some requested advil, which the maître d’ brought over in this little ramekin. Precious.
The weather in Napa was HOT HOT HOT! But, by evening, things cooled off and it was absolutely perfect for sitting outside.
There were several options for this dining experience. We chose the three course dinner, which was a splurge at $98 a person, excluding wine. Hey, we only do this once a year! I loved that there were so many little extra touches—the amuse, the palette cleanser, the after dessert candies and the takeaway candy box! We all ordered something different for each course so we could sample everything.
The next morning, we walked to the only place I ever want to eat breakfast in Napa, the Alexis Baking Company. Though they are known for their baked goods ( I can vouch for their cinnamon bread), I got my favorite— Huevos Rancheros. We needed something hearty to start off this day of wine tasting! We got back to our hotel lobby just in time for our car service to arrive. I ordered a towncar, and…surprise! We got upgraded to a white limo. LOL. Not exactly inconspicious, but we had a grand ole time living large. By the way, John at Triple Diamond Limousineis the only car service I will ever use in Napa. He just really made it so we didn’t have to think, which is a very good thing when there is wine invovled.
First on the agenda was one of my favorites, the sparkling winery Domain Carneros. They have some of the best, affordable sparkling wine on the market. Of course they also have reserves for a lot more moola, which Christi will tell you all about. Give her a sparkling wine flight and she’ll buy anything…juuust kidding, Christi.
Up next, was Gloria Ferrer. The most stressful decision of the day? The rosé or the Blanc de Blancs. I don’t knooooowww!!
We visited a total of 4 wineries. We had planned to take the tram tour at Sterling Vineyards but it was 100 degrees (eek!) and we only had 45 minutes left and one winery to go. So, we skipped the tour and had a picnic lunch of gourmet paninis we purchased at the Glen Ellen Market and sat in the shade until it was off to B.R.Cohn.
After a late afternoon nap, it was dinner at Bottega. Home of Chef Michael Chiarello’s “craftsman kitchen,” which I can only assume means it is the restaurant where he most frequents (he was there that night!) and plays around with local ingredients. Italian inpiried, this meal will go down as one of the best I’ve had. In fact, I have already tried to recreate the brocolini, which was perfectly flash fried, drizzled in balsalmic and I’m sure 5 million other complicated processes that I will never master. It was also about the same price as our tip on Friday night!
The last morning, we high tailed it over to Sonoma to meet another good friend for breakfast at the very delicious Harvest Moon Cafe. She was in town visiting her wine maker boyfriend, so lucky for us, we got to stop by his tasting room Adobe Road for one last complimentary taste. And with a final clink we saw each other off and vowed to talk more often. Where to go next year? I’m thinking we take this trio abroad. I don’t really care as long as it’s romantical, wink.