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Sunday, July 6, 2014

An Amazing Trip to Napa - Getting there and Day 1

A lucky and exciting trip was upon us.  My sweet husband has been dreaming of going to Napa for years.  This year was the year, I wasn't ready.  I had other things on my mind and taking up my time.  He made the reservations, I took the time off, but I wasn't a part of any of the planning, I couldn't do it.  The trip was needed, the trip was good.

We woke up at o'clock thirty on June 28th.  I had packed all my stuff the last couple of days (it's late packing for me).  I took Scout for his morning walk.  I came back and showered and then changed the bedding out on our bed (we had two different pet-sitters coming, and I needed to make sure they were comfortable).  I went about the morning in my normal "morning-person" mood.  Jason however is not a morning person, and he hadn't quite finished packing or getting is stuff together.  Soon Linda came to pick us up to take us to the airport (it was 5:15 on the dot).  I'm ready.  Jason was still eating something and irritated because he wasn't finished getting everything together.  Ummm, ok.  He's really not a morning person.  We headed out at about 5:35, and with no one on the road the drive to the airport was smooth.  Once at the airport Jason realized he forgot his sunglasses, and the extra cash we would of had to travel with.  No worries though, sunglasses can be bought and we live in a world of credit cards.  The only causality of the the trip is another swim army knife, Jason always has one in his pocket or bag, and ALWAYS forgets to check it or leave it before going somewhere that doesn't allow them (again replaceable).

wind blown
The reason for the crazy early flight?  Non-stop to San Fran.  5 plus hours sitting in the middle seat (because I feel bad for Jason and his non morning person self), sitting next to the crazy lady on the aisle that is constantly moving and bumping into me.  Who throws her blanket on and off of herself (and me) about 30 times during the flight....DUDE....settle.  Once in San Francisco we grab our luggage and find our way to the rental car area.  Our rental car company is off site, and we wait for the pick up vehicle to get there.  It's windy and cold (just like San Francisco), we (Jason and I) are both travel weary, and a little hungry.
double double

We get our car and head out of Frisco.  Jason is driving (the only driving he did for the whole trip), and we end up stopping at a In and Out Burger for a quick bite.  Jason has never had the "pleasure" of in and out, so this was his first (maybe only) taste.  No it was good at the time....we felt it later (as we don't usually eat fast food much).

our room
our view
Into Napa (city proper) we came.  After driving through the Carneros region and seeing vineyards etc on the way in, we were getting excited.  We got a little lost (remember a little tired from a full day of travel) on the way to the hotel, but we found it.  The River Terrace Inn was a welcome sight.  It was in a beautiful location (right next to the Westin), and close to downtown- walking distance to restaurants and tasting rooms, and right on the bank of the Napa River.  After getting settled in the room we went downtown and explored a little of Napa proper.  We tasted at a couple of rooms, and found the Oxbow Public Market (read cool place where there are eateries and groceries and goods), where we ate some taco's at C-Casa.
steak taco
s'mores cupcake
 Got a sweet treat at Kara's Kupcakes (s'mores cupcake- delish).
Then we headed back to the hotel and listened to some music, and drank a little wine (while a drunk/stoned guy tried way to hard to not be drunk/stoned talked a lot and very loudly to Jason..hahahahaha).

wine and fire as it cools down
 Sunday morning I got up and did a little run.  I needed to get some running in while out here, and I knew my best chance was before all the drinking started. I ran around town looking for cool other things and gaining a few miles.  I stumbled upon a trail (it said it was 1.2 miles) and I took it.  I had run to the other side of town already, so I figured I would be running back in.  However when the trail ended I didn't know where I was, so I ran back some, decided to venture off and try to cut through.  This is very adventurous of me, as I am directionally impaired (I admit it).  I ended up using google maps to find my way back.  I made it though.  I showered and got ready to head out to a day of wine tasting.  We hadn't made any appointments we decided to just go see what was out there.  We had map and a book given to us by the nice tasting rooms in Napa.   We knew we wouldn't see EVERYTHING while we were here (600 wineries), and we were given lot's of great recommendations to see, but the first day was a fly by the seat of your pants day.

Clone 6
barrels at Bell
Day 1:  first stop Bell Cellars.  We have enjoyed Bell in our home for years, and particularly love the Clone 6.  After going to the tasting Clone 337 is super Yummy as well, of course you can only get it if you are part of their wine club. Our book said that Bell was open to the public, so we just walked in.  Apparently it's by appointment, but the nice people at Bell saw us anyways.

Next stop: Cliff Lede.  This was recommended by some patients who had come to Napa for their honeymoon.  They said the vibe was good and the wine were wonderful.  I can definitely see why honeymooners would love the vibe at Cliff Lede.

tasting menu
 The place has a great garden with statues of hearts.  The owner is totally into Rock, and has named all of his "blocks" after bands. The merchandise in the tasting room have a Rock theme to them as well, some AC/DC thunderbolt that says Cliff Lede, some Beetles images with the Cliff Lede words.  Sounds like Cliff is a cool guy (from Canada...ehh).

Stag's Leap: was next.  Again another wine that we have had, and knew we were going to love.  Had a great tasting with some good history about the winery and what makes their Cabs so GREAT.  Had a side by side tasting of grapes grown in different areas of the estate, and the blended wine that was of both.  We enjoyed our time with wine steward.  I love it when they get maps out and show us where everything is, and give some history- we brought some Stag's Leap home with us.

LUNCH:  Soda Canyon Store was recommend by the guy at Stag's Leap, and we were in need of food.  They had a great deli, which made fantastic sandwiches, and burrito's if you wanted them.  Some good sides, along with the typical chips and cookies.  You could drink wine there as well, but we decided on a little detox between tastings.  I had the tourist (which was turkey, avocado, brie, and yumminess).  After getting our bellies full we headed out for more tasting.

Next stop-  Darioush - recommended by a friend.  Super cool entrance, with a Mediterranean vibe.  We liked the wines, but thought they'd be better if they lied down for a bit.  We are pretty sure we'd love them if they had a little more time in the bottle.  The good thing about can leave it in the bottle for as long as you wish.  The tasting room was cool, and they served their wine with a little pistachio's that was said to have lemon, spices, and joy sprinkled on them.  After the tasting we went out and looked at the grapes (vines are right there).

 Black Stallion: was next.  We had a great time, and really liked their wines.  I didn't take any pics while we were there, but we decided to come back and do a tour.  The vineyard was planted on an old equestrian center, and they used part of the original stonework from the barns etc in the make up of the winery.  We ended up doing a wine and cheese pairing while we were there (the first day), and enjoyed the conversation at the tasting bar.  We ended up with a Syrah from here.

Luna: the last stop for the day.  A chance encounter.  We came in and enjoyed a tasting.  The wines were okay, and the place itself was okay.  I think sometimes you can only taste so much.  The bottles were pretty?

**Most of the tasting we did, Jason and I shared a tasting.  Mostly because we were actually just tasting the wine (not drinking), and enjoying the time.  Also with me driving, I was happy to not have as much.