It’s been a whirlwind few weeks with a fun trip followed up with two back to back work trips. We had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend around our house spending some quality family time together. This weekend, we headed north to my in-laws to swap planes so now we are getting back into the swing of things for another work week.
Three weeks ago, I got to check an item off my bucket list and thought I would share that trip with you. I’m fortunate to be blessed with 3 great friends that have remained close since we graduated from graduate school NINE years ago. We try to get together when we can but we all 4 live in different parts of the East/South. Over the last 9 years, we’ve been able to celebrate many milestones – 3 bachelorette trips, 3 weddings, 3 babies and numerous Mountaineer games. We all work in HR so when we get together, there’s never a shortage of crazy stories to trade! We really could write a book.
This was my first BIG trip leaving Carter – previously I’d only left him for one night right before his first birthday. Thank goodness for technology because I was able to Facetime with him 2-3 times each day.
Us gals decided to take 3 days off work and head to the west coast! Our destination… Napa! None of us had been there before and it seemed like the perfect place to un-winE and catch up.
3 of the 4 of us had flights that landed within minutes of each other in San Francisco so we picked up the rental car and made a Target run to get some snacks for the weekend. We picked up the 4th flyer and strategically got all our luggage in the back of our medium size SUV! Funny story.. we kept circling the airport waiting to pick up Lauren and she ended up coming out right as we got to the end of the area to pick up passengers. So I drove REALLY slow while she ran over and attempted to throw her bag in the already full car. At that exact moment, a bus pulled up and we had to move – with the back hatch not fully closed. I pulled over into a nearby lot so they could fix the hatch and apparently we were in a restricted area! A security officer got out of her booth and was eyeing us with her hand on her gun! We quickly shut the door and off we went!
We decided to spend a little time down in San Francisco while rush hour traffic calmed down and we were all starving. We were smooth sailing until we hit the area around the ball park and ALL the roads were closed for a game! We lost a good hour and a half just trying to get around the stadium. I’m the only one that had been to the city before so I dug up my memories from my trip there 5 years ago to figure out what we should see in a short amount of time. We went down to Pier 33 for some dinner and seal watching. There were TONS of seals out so it was fun to watch them for a little bit. We walked around the Pier and decided on dinner at Wipeout Bar & Grill. Great food and quick service!
From there, we did a quick tourist drive thru the city – we journeyed up and down the steep streets and of course had to see the “Full House House” and drive down Lombard Street. On our way out of the city, we stopped at Vista Point on both sides of the Bridge to get pictures.
It was about an hour drive to our hotel in Yountville and we were all ready for bed by the time we reached there – the 3 hour time change and early flights were catching up to us! We stayed at the quaint and convenient Napa Valley Lodge. This hotel was perfect for our trip – we were able to walk to a variety of restaurants and shops, we enjoyed the breakfast buffet with complimentary mimosas, the pool was inviting (tho we didn’t take a dip), roses amazing, fire pits and outdoor seating areas perfect for girl talk (& mimosas) and right in the middle of the wineries we decided to visit.
Friday morning was our big day – we arranged for a private driver for an all day winery tour/tasting adventure. After some research and recommendations by friends and family, we went with Platypus Wine Tours. Our driver picked us up around 10 and we were off!
First up was Sterling Vineyards. We were the first ones there and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. We did a self-guided tour and had tastings along the way. The draw to this winery is the aerial tram to the winery and gorgeous views out of the vineyards.
Our next winery was Mumm Napa – probably my favorite in terms of tastings. I just enjoyed the vibe at this winery – there was a beautiful outdoor patio where we got to enjoy our wines and a cute gift shop.
From there, we were ready for some lunch and a tasting break! Our driver suggested we grab lunch from the deli at V Sattui Winery. In addition to making wine, they also make great food and have a great lawn with picnic tables to enjoy. There were over 200 types of cheese available! We grabbed sandwiches and a bottle of their wine and soaked up some sun while munching. While we were eating, the Wine Train came by so that was neat to see. We debated on whether or not to do the train and I probably would if I went to Napa again. We decided against it on this trip because it was going to take up at least half day and the main focus of the train is their gourmet food – none of us were that interested. It’s also pretty pricey.
We added another winery on a whim and made a detour to Robert Modavi Winery. It had beautiful grounds and vineyards. We enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio and made a quick run through the gift shop.
Then it was back on the bus and off to Del Dotto. This winery was very unique in that the tour was in a cave. We sampled quite a few red wines straight from the barrels. I don’t really care for red wine but it was a unique experience and our tour guide was…interesting.
By this point, we had consumed quite a bit of wine and our tour was drawing to an end. Our driver dropped us back off at our hotel and we rallied enough to walk down to Hurley’s for dinner. We enjoyed some much needed water with our dinner! Pretty sure we were all asleep by 9:30 Friday night too – in our defense, that’s 12:30am for us East coasters.
Friday morning we had another lazy start to the day and then drove to Castello di Amorosa. For you fellow Bachelor fans, this is where Jake had his two-on-one date with Vienna and Gia! This is a 45 million dollar castle built 10 years ago. It was beautiful to see but I prefer the real deals in Europe myself. We enjoyed the tour and learning how they make wine. The wine tastings were delicious here!
We headed back to Yountville and walked to a local pizza place – Redd Wood. The pizza was fabulous! Highly recommend it if you’re ever in this part of the country. We walked around a little and checked out the shops – nothing we had to have – and then killed some time at the hotel.
Next up was Domaine Carneros. This winery was a little drive from Yountville but just gorgeous. It’s built to look like a chateau and is known for their sparking wine. We enjoyed a tasting here and then headed to Brix for our dinner reservation. The restaurant had a beautiful courtyard and vineyard and we caught a glimpse of the Wine Train passing through. Our hotel made a big deal about needing dinner reservations but both places we made reservations for, Hurley’s and Brix, were not very busy at all. They also don’t stay open late so be aware if you’re planning a trip. The Napa days are really short – majority of the wineries are only 10-5 and restaurants seem to close by 9pm. We headed back and got packed up to head out Saturday.
Saturday morning we enjoyed one last breakfast and mimosa and then headed to Chandon. We had signed up for a Cocktail 101 class and killed some time while we waited for it to begin. How else to kill time in Napa? Buy a bottle of sparkling wine, of course! We enjoyed the wine on their relaxing patio and then tried our hand at making cocktails. We got to make 3 cocktails during the 60-minute class and have decided we would much rather pay someone to make them for us! It was a fun experience and I’m glad we did it.
From here, we said good bye to Napa and headed to the Premier Outlets outside of San Francisco. We shopped for about 2 hours in the hot hot sun and made our way back to the San Francisco airport. We all took red eyes back home meaning our flights left SFO between 10pm-midnight. Our plan was to get a nice dinner and kill some time before getting to the airport but traffic slowed us way down and when we finally made it to our restaurant of choice near the airport, it had a crazy long wait. We settled on fast food at a mall food court. We filled up the rental car and dropped it off at the airport (which also took forever) and then got checked in for our flights. My suitcase went from 26 pounds to 51 – that wine will really add some pounds! I took back a bottle from the Castle since it can only be purchased from there and a bottle from Chandon for our upcoming anniversary.
We had a fabulous trip and are already thinking big thoughts for our next trip! Where should we go next?