I realize I posted part one of our trip away from the kids about a month ago, but that's how things go around here. After part one of our trip away to San Francisco, we headed north to Napa. Napa is about an hour north east of San Francisco and is really easy drive, however it's only a 2 lane road which could be problematic with traffic. Luckily we had no issues.
We stayed at the Hawthorn Inn which was your average hotel, nothing fancy, just a place to sleep and shower. We got into Napa around 3 o'clock and after checking in and settling in we headed to downtown Napa to walk around the town. If you haven't been to Napa, you probably don't know that there is nothing going on in downtown Napa. A small amount of restaurants and nothing else. The stores I couldn't tell if they were closed because of the earthquake or because nothings going on. We did find John Anthony's tasting room.
I highly recommend the tasting room. It's such a beautiful open space and would be a dream to work at. Rick and I don't like dry wines so we got a dessert wine. It was amazing. We headed out for more fun as it was only 6pm and were highly disappointed to find that Napa basically shuts down in the evenings. We did find a great restaurant that I also highly recommend, The Bounty Hunter.
The next day we started early at The Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Yountville is a cute little town that I wish we could have explored more. The bakery is tiny so there is often a line out the door but the wait is well worth it. I've never tasted coffee as smooth and creamy as theirs. I had an iced coffee with caramel and Rick had a salted caramel, both fantastic. We split a coffee cake which was equally amazing.
After coffee we had our first tasting scheduled at Cakebread Cellars.
We had a really great guide who took us and another couple from Chicago out to their gardens for a small tasting. The grounds were so pretty and for not liking dry wine, their wine was fantastic, all of them.
After Cakebread we headed out to Oakville Grocery to pick up some items for lunch. So many options, a little pricey but we loved it. I had read that there are a few wineries that will allow you to bring in your own food to do a picnic lunch if you purchase some wine. I researched a close winery and settled into Alpha Omega. The place was gorgeous, inside and out. I can't say enough about their grounds, however we didn't love the wine. It was all dry so we shouldn't have been surprised, but at $40 a bottle, it should be good.
Lunch was great though. Bread, cheese, meat was great, could have passed on the tampenade.
Next up was a nice drive through the country to Castello di Amorosa. The castle was built by the man who also owns V Sattui. It's gorgeous but ridiculous (in a nice way) at the same time. Everything was brought over from Italy, including those bricks. Built just as if it were in Italian castle from a hundred years ago.
This is the grand room where any party would have happened and they do allow parties in this space. The murals were hand painted by an Italian painter.
Even the ceilings were hand painted, imagine the work!
After the initial tour of the castle, it was time to get into the wine.
We got to taste some of the grapes from the vine. They don't taste like a grape you get in the grocery store.
The open space is where all the trucks move in and out of the main hubbub of the wine making.
We went below the castle where all the wine is house and literally there is wine every where you turn.
Each one of these bottles was full of wine.
It's very cool how they get the wine into those barrels. They have lines that run from the top of the castle through the walls and fill the barrels underground.
We got a barrel tasting while we were underground.
Then it was tasting time. The castle has a lot of wine options to choose from and had several sweets that we were able to enjoy.
We were wiped out after the castle and got to enjoy the animals on the grounds. Again, ridiculous, but this ostrich was so cute.
We could have swung around to a couple other wineries, but we were wined out. Another thing to note, Napa stops most all their tastings around 4 or 5 so you feel a little rushed to squeeze in as much as possible in a small amount of time.
The next day, we weren't feeling in the mood for more wine so we took off for Half Moon Bay. Rick's cousin had been a few years before and suggested we check it out if we had time. We stopped at a state park and found a whale friend that kept cresting but I wasn't fast enough to capture it in pictures. This is the best I could get.
Napa was beautiful but I really liked the small feel of Half Moon Bay.
We stopped at Half Moon Bay Brewing and did this flight tasting.
This was the view.
Like San Francisco, we probably won't go back to Napa again. Napa is a town full of dry wines and we're sweet drinkers. I did hear that Sonoma is more of the place to visit than downtown Napa area. Overall the trip was nice and a much needed step away from work and parenting.