Tag Archives: Napa

Right out of a movie

I’m going to give all credit to Carley on this one. She researched and booked the world’s most incredible brunch at Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley.

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Let’s just say, this isn’t your standard 3-Michelin star restaurant. This place is, quite honestly, a friggin’ Swiss Family Robinson-style experience, complete with servers that have timed deliveries and round-table speeches to introduce each individual plate.

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Our brunch took place outdoors on the wraparound deck overlooking California’s Napa Valley. I was half expecting to have chimpanzees swing onto our shoulders during the dessert course.

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This is one of those, when in Rome, experiences – we all ordered a cocktail and cheers’ed to ending this first couple’s trip with a bang.

Bloody mary’s and mimosas all around! Of course, they were ordered using the table iPad in front of us.

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The brunch menu looked a little like this.  You choose a drink, a beginning, a sustenance, and a dessert.

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By memory, Brett and I shared the half dozen oysters, the cow’s milk burrata with grilled radicchio, a Maine lobster omelet, a Kurobuto pork chop, and two fantastic desserts from this menu.

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I know for sure we choose the Chocolate Peanut Butter one, and I couldn’t guess what the second one was. Let’s just say they both rocked our socks off. Finish up with a little cappuccino and we are ready to see that bill, server!

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Somewhere along the lines of $700 and vacation, we didn’t care what this meal cost. Once in a lifetime, eating on a beautifully exotic deck overlooking Napa, with some of the best friends life could give us.

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We took one more pano picture and all piled into the cars. Windows down, wind whipping our hair all over the place. We took the scenic route home. Along the rolling vineyards of Napa, promising ourselves we’ll be back some day.

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We stopped at the nearby grocery store on the way to Oliviera, to pick up dinner supplies (I know, we just had brunch… but we didn’t want to have to drive again once we got home.) We taste-tested some frosting, picked up some grilling materials and a quinoa salad or two – then we headed back.

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The rest of our last full day in paradise was spent laughing, listening to music, jumping in the hot tub, grilling and playing Cards Against Humanity.

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Without going into the details of our sad goodbyes the next morning, let’s just say this trip was a terrific first couple’s trip – one we won’t soon forget.

Where will the next one take us? Locations we have thrown around : Hawaii, Colorado Backcountry, to the coast of North Carolina…

The world really is our oyster. And traveling in groups allows for a more exotic lodging experience since we’re splitting it 8+ ways…

Thank you for a truly memorable trip : Carley & AJ, Katie & Scott, Molly & Chris, and the best traveler I know and love, Brett

Until next time,
e

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Round two!

We wake up with barely a hangover. Win! Refuel with a little morning java and enjoy our patio before getting ready for the day and more importantly, before our limo arrives.

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Since we already had a mug of coffee down the hatch. We figured it’s time to get the party started.… poppin’ bottles.  Before you get worried about our alcohol intake, please remember, the whole point of renting a limo for this trip was the sole fact that we planned to be inebriated.  As classy and sophisticated as we could… but definitely not sober.
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Our first stop is one that we highly recommend for those visiting the Sonoma area.
St. Francis Winery & Vineyard. We scheduled their Food & Wine Pairing experience for 11am on a Friday afternoon filled with sunshine and cool breezes.  This vineyard is built on some beautiful landscape (aren’t they all?) A very popular place for people to get married.  Gorgeous mountains in the background.
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The pairing took place inside a lovely structure, the doors open to the fresh air outside.  There were two tables positioned half-circle style with the seating on the outside of the curves.  The wine experts walked through and around as they introduced each pairing.
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Each place setting had a leather-bound portfolio with the menu details & a notepad to write tasting notes in.  I vaguely remember doodling hilarious stick figure pictures and Bob Marley quotes on mine… at one point during the experience, Brett looks over and exclaims, “My feet feel like cotton!”  He is entirely enjoying himself, on top of the dosage of DayQuil (for his head cold) taken 30 minutes prior.  It’s amazing what a little vino and a little acetaminophen will do to ignite the senses!
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To be honest, I don’t even remember what all we had {so zoom in on this picture & read it!}  Nevertheless,  it’s true when they say pairing wine with a specific food enhances the flavors, it really works!  The whole experience was a delight. Something we would do again in a heart beat.
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Back in the limo we go.  The next stop, Ledson Winery and Vineyards. Originally, it was being built as a home, with 17 acres of Merlot planted on the grounds.  But as the structure was built, and the public became more interested, they ended up turning it into a vineyard and tasting room.  (well played Ledson clan!)  The structure is built with a French Normady-esque style, 16,000 square feet of woodwork and marble staircases.  Never missing the opportunity for a photo op, we enjoyed the front garden area with beautiful white roses and fountains.
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Their tasting room had wood floors and a beautiful bar area.  We sidled up and started to learn about their vines.  Little breadsticks were my saving grace as we sipped and sipped some more.
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After the tasting, we bought a bottle and went out back on their patio.  Some of us took naps in the sun : star-fished on the ground & loving life {cough, Carley}.  We toasted to friendship & love, as we looked at the rows of vines grown there.  What a neat place to have a summer party or a murder mystery dinner!
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A pretty spectacular roundup of the troops and we’re onto the next one!  Benziger Family Winery for the win!  This next one is a little blurry for me.  Understandably so; three vineyards in and I’m reaching my limits.
We made a pit stop potty break upon arrival (extremely necessary says the girl with the squirrel-sized bladder).  Then we hop on an extended golf cart for a tour of the vineyards.  Our tour guide explained the wine-making process at their location and the background story of the family that built Benziger into what it is today.
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I’ll be honest, a lot of what he said went in one ear and out the other.  We stopped along the tour at a little wooden hut and cracked open a white bottle of wine.  He served it to us in logo-etched wine glasses – nice touch.
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Cool little place.  Gorgeous farm animals to fertilize the soil.  Fluffy, mop-headed cows and little baby goats.  Ten points to Gryffindor for the golf cart ride, as I was not about hiking all over those poo-filled rows of vines.
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The middle of the tour took us into the wine caves where, guess what we did?… had some more vino.  It’s a lot of traveling small distances and then drinking wine.  Rinse & repeat.
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There was a really neat room deep into the cave that we all grabbed a spot at.  It felt very Knights of the Roundtable-esque, with tapestries hanging on the wall and unique art pieces.
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In the wine cave, I got in trouble for trying to snag some more breadsticks, but, please, this was a girl looking after herself!  Atleast some part of my mind knew I needed water and food.  Stat.
We circled around the vineyards on the golf carf and finished the tour in their Main Bar / Tasting Room.  I couldn’t tell you what took place in that space.  The next thing I remember is getting into the limo and somehow making it home in one piece.
Now, THAT was a tour of Sonoma.
Dinner plans were supposed to involve a bacon-infused local hotspot called Zazu, but we couldn’t make it happen.  We grabbed a variety of chicken breasts and brats at the grocery store to grill-out instead.  And it rocked our socks off.
Oh yeah, and we drank water, lots of water.
xo,
e
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Good Morning Sonoma!

We wake up and the boys cook some eggs.  A nest egg, as Brett calls them.

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We giggle and catch up on the deck.  Overlooking the mountain and unreal landscape.  All of a sudden, the limo is on it’s way and we are rushing to pull ourselves together.
The limo pulled into the gravel driveway and the driver hops out to introduce himself.  He opens the back door and we all pile in.  Champagne, soda, water… there were glass champagne glasses and bottle openers.  Living the life!
On our way to the first vineyard, our driver recommends we pull into a Whole Foods-like grocery store and pick up some lunch, since we were headed a little into the countryside and wouldn’t have many options.  We all hop out, grab sandwiches, pasta salads, hummus, and in Brett’s case, head cold materials.
Our first vineyard stop was Ferrari-Carrano.  This place looked like it was fresh out of Alice in Wonderland.  The grounds were landscaped to perfection.  Freshly-cut grass, sculptures, fountains, and beautiful vineyards as far as the eye could see.  The building itself was a marble, cream-colored structure with ornate railings and large windows.  The tasting was held in the basement, a spot called the Prevail Room.
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Our directions were to choose 4 or 6 different wines on a small paper menu.  The wines were poured and the 8 of us sat at a large table underneath beautiful black, exotic lighting fixtures.  Downstairs is where the large room of wine barrels are located as well.
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After Ferrari-Carano, we hop back in the limo and head towards Bella Vineyard & Wine Cave.  Both Katie and I had great reviews from friends about this vineyard and really wanted to make it work.  We pulled into Bella and the limo driver popped the trunk.  In the back he had flatware and every other material needed for a picnic.  Cool!  He spread out a tablecloth and we all munched on the grocery store grub.  It was nice (& necessary!) to get something in our stomach.
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A dog that lives on the grounds begged for food : made the experience that much more welcoming.  AJ gathered wine glasses so we could have some vino while lunching.
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After eats, we walked into this cave-style area that was nestled underneath a hill.  Towards the back it was dark and cold, but lively and filled with people tasting wine around a little bar area.  We grabbed a small table and tasted our way through the menu.  This was a really cool little place with lots of personal touches. I could picture a gorgeous wedding reception being held on the grounds.
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We all hopped back in the limo and headed back towards Oliviera.  Some of us weren’t feeling too hot and took a cat nap while the vineyards rolled by the windows.  Brett got a head cold and was desperately trying to sleep it off (or was it too much Zin?)
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Back in Glen Ellen, we lounged and rehydrated.  The boys jumped in the hot tub and the ladies mixed some drinks.  Towards the evening time, we dressed up and headed towards The Girl and the Fig.  A small, local restaurant with high ratings.  I was impressed that they were so conscious of wasted water & drought in the area.  Fresh olives (pitted & non) were waiting as a starter, yay!  We dined on Fig and Arugula Salad, a Cucumber Soup, Burgers and Pork Chops.  The food was delicious (& expensive!), but worth the splurge.
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I cannot remember what was so funny, but Carley almost giggle / choked to death.  Luckily, nurse AJ was seated next to her.
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We headed back towards Oliviera, in a food coma.  Driving up the dark, steep, winding mountain towards home.  We gathered enough energy to play a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity before turning in for the night.
xo,
e
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