I was amazed at the color of the foliage in Napa and the cooler temps. It actually felt like Autumn there. Back in Oklahoma, things were green and brown and the kids were wearing shorts to school (temps in the 80s).
After I unpacked, I headed over to Gott's Roadside in the Oxbow Public Market hoping to enjoy the Tuesday "burger and beer" special for $10. I was disappointed to hear that I was a few hours too early for that special because it was on my list of things to do...and I was also very hungry.
So I headed over to Trader Joe's to get munchies (I hate being in a hotel without food!), candy for the kids and a dark chocolate advent calendar for my love. I ended up buying some mead too because I thought I might like it. I like honey and I like beer so.... I brought it back to Oklahoma to share at Thanksgiving.
After my TJ salad for a late lunch, I went over my work checklist and then took a catnap. My co-worker arrived later and we went to a spot we've been to before for dinner, Bistro Don Giovanni. I had snacked on apples and hummus in my room so I wasn't really hungry but I wanted to try a Moscow Mule to see if I liked it.
|Verdict: I did!|
The next day after work, we hit Gott's Roadside for a late lunch. The burger and beer special was not available (bummer) but the experience is still what I'd consider a "must do" while in Napa.
I got the Wisconsin Sourdough burger with griddled mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, mayo and BBQ sauce on toasted sourdough. It was so good, especially the garlic fries which I shared with my new friends.
|The little birds had no shame in their begging. This guy got away with several of my fries... I didn't mind.|
Later we visited Artesa Winery to stock up and take in the gorgeous vistas. This time was better than last time as there was no "Sonoma Aroma" in the air.
|View heading out of the Winery|
We didn't stick around for a tasting because we wanted to hit Saddleback Cellars before last call. On the way to SBC we saw a lot of pretty post-harvest vineyards.
|Isn't this gorgeous?|
|Very, very cool, no?|
(Something that did not come across in the photos are the fruit flies. We were told that there were a lot of fruit flies after the harvest. Luckily they don't drink much...)
Later, I found Chloe and loved on her a bit. She's so sweet!
|I have a bottle of her wine (Chloe's Blend) in the fridge at home...|
|Hoping to do a better job at emulating this guy for our Derby Party.|
The next day after checking in with the site and the office, we headed to our favorite lunch/picnic spot, V. Sattui. I found a spot under a gorgeous Chinese Pistache to enjoy my arancini and stuffed olives.
|My Chinese Pistache in Oklahoma is not nearly as colorful as this one...|
Next up was a place I'd found that offered a more intimate (and complimentary) wine tasting, Heitz Cellars. It was basically next door to V. Sattui and you cannot miss it because of the 35-foot-tall, stainless steel “Bunny Foo Foo” leaping up into the Hall Wines vineyard across the highway. (The bunny is made of 3.3 metric tons of stainless steel.)
|Little Bunny Foo Foo|
Hopping through the forest
Scooping up the field mice
And bopping 'em on the head
|He finally settled by the fire...noiselessly, of course...|
|Loving the extra long table and the wines were really, really good too.|
Next, we decided to visit another of Nils Venge's vineyards, Envy Wines, in Calistoga.
The last time I was there 3 years ago it was during the harvest and the smell of grapes permeated the air. Now that was a treat! This time was after harvest and there were fruit flies galore. But there was also Kathy, the sommelier, and she was great. She taught us the proper way to say "Thank you" in Japanese; women generally say "arrigata" and gentlemen say "domo arrigato" (no "Mr. Roboto"). Kahty poured us some great Envy wines and gave us good advice on places to see and where to get a good quality wine suitcase (Chateau Montelena, FYI).
She mentioned people biking around and I wished we'd had more time to rent bikes and bike around the valley, but we had limited time. Maybe on the next trip.
|The Old Faithful Geyser is just out that window|
We got the boar sliders (yum!).
|Wild Boar Slides with Onion Rings|
This trip was a great one experiencing a few firsts (we saw moss in California - Sonoma - this trip!) and a few of the great regulars. I look forward to the next one.
I was very glad to get home, but I could probably have used a couple extra days in Napa to feed my soul (and my belly).
Side note: While I was driving through Woodland on my way to the Sacramento airport the next morning, I smelled a very strong odor of onion. I recalled that I smelled onion in that same area before on my way through Woodland. I made a note this time to research what and where and here is what I found: I was driving down the 5 through Woodland and Culinary Farms is located 2 blocks from the highway. They make onion puree (among other things) at their facility. Mystery solved.