The morning after our wedding we hailed a cab, which had just dropped off Joe Jackson at a nearby IHOP (For real. A friend who was randomly at the same IHOP vouched that he was there) and headed to the airport. Apparently, Mr. Jackson was craving pecans and didn’t tip the cabbie.
Our honeymoon took us to Napa Valley, where we holed up for 5 days at The Cottages of Napa Valley, eating, drinking, and generally being married.
I had a small weight gain during the trip, which I attribute to the daily pastry baskets which were discreetly delivered to our doorstep each morning. They looked something like this:
Our first full day in the valley took us to Sonoma. I absolutely adored their quaint downtown area full of locally owned boutiques, museums and tasting bars. On this day we also had a stroke of amazing luck. We drove by a little hole in the wall restaurant called Schellville Grill and decided to stop for lunch. Turns out, Guy Fieri has featured it on the Food Network. I opted for a salad while Adam enjoyed a sandwich. After our meal, we paid (including a tip, don’t call us Mr. Jackson) and headed to our car. That’s when “Uncle Bob” ran over to greet us from his Prius.
Uncle Bob: Are you folks wine tasting today?
Adam: Yes sir! We’re on our honeymoon and just getting started for the day.
Uncle Bob: Congratulations! You should make a stop at Ravenswood. Take my card and tell them Uncle Bob sent you.
Adam: Thanks so much, we’ll be sure to check them out.
Me: So nice to meet you! Have a good day.
We went our separate ways and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I looked at the card and saw that it was not only Uncle Bob’s business card, but handwritten on the back was 2 free tastings courtesy of him. Typically in Napa Valley you pay anywhere from $10 – $25 per tasting, some wineries let you split tastings, but not many. Thanks to Uncle Bob we saved $30…and used our savings to buy the best Moscato either of us have ever tasted. We’d have never gone to Ravenswood if not for Uncle Bob.
Kaz Winery was also an off-the-beaten path find for us. When we passed the painted wine barrels at the entrance? Adam made a U-turn. Thank goodness for that. Kaz was an understated, no frills winery and had a metal chicken greeting guests at the front door. Though they specialized in dry wines, I was entertained by their random assortment of 80s vinyl while Adam sampled wine. He even got to cork his own bottle!
Day 3 is better known as the day Adam tried to kill me. Ok, not really, but it sure felt like it – and it was my own fault. Here’s the breakdown:
- Adam’s an avid cyclist. Me? Notsomuch.
- Adam wanted to rent a tandem bike in Yountville and, being the head over heels in love new wife that I was, I cautiously agreed.
- Adam wanted us to ride a short 14 mile loop and promised we’d stop at wineries that look appealing along the way.
- Adam and I are both 6’2″. The back seat of a tandem is not built for a 6’2″ person, so I got to ride for 14 miles with my mid-thighs on a bike seat.
- Adam failed to mention…err, remind me…that cycling typically means you ride on highway shoulders as cars zip past you at the marked speed limit, or faster. Including large trucks.
Let’s just say I freaked. out.
And could barely walk for a day and a half after the ride.
But hey, we got some good pictures.
Day 4 was our last day in the Valley and we made the most of it. We woke up early and headed north. It’s safe to say I
drank tasted more wine that day than I have in my entire life. I was quite the cool cucumber.
We walked into a castle, but decided to save our tasting money for a winery up the road we had heard a lot about, Sterling Vineyards. We splurged at this winery, getting the full package for tasting which included an additional 3 tastings after the winery tour – for a total of 7 tastings. All were fantastic, but the highlight of this winery for me was the gondola ride from the parking lot to the winery. It was so serene and beautiful.
Chateau Montelana was also a highlight for us, as we had just watched the movie about it on Netflix in our cottage the night before. The grounds of the Chateau were absolutely breathtaking.
We ended our last day in Napa Valley with dinner at Bottega. We shared our first risotto and indulged in some amazing truffle-parmigiano fries. Adam ordered “Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs” with a whole grain mustard spaetzle, Sicilian pickles, quince paste & smokey horseradish jus, while I ordered the “Forno Roasted Chicken Breast” with “Marsala” sautéed forest mushrooms, marinated grilled onions, truffle honey and sherry vinaigrette. Both dishes were exceptional and at the end of the meal our waiter convinced us to order the house chocolate “cake” that wasn’t listed on the menu. It. Was. Phenomenal.
Our final full day in California took us back to San Francisco, with a slight detour thanks to Adam. Turns out Highway 1 is Adam’s dream road. At least in the US.
My hubby is a HUGE Top Gear fan and took this opportunity to channel his inner Stig. Let’s just say I have never seen him so chipper and filled with glee than I did while he was driving on Highway 1. Meanwhile, I was busy saying “OOOHHH! Pull over, I need to get a picture” or “OMG!!! REAL SEALS!!! IN. THE. WILD!!”
Highway 1 was incredible and I think Adam summed up the scenery best when he said, “This is proof God exists.” I have to agree, as I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Mid-way down Highway 1, I mention that I’m feeling a bit hungry and since it was almost time for lunch, Adam informs me that he already scoped out a place for us to eat in Bolinas. Unbeknownst to me, Bolinas is costal community known for its reclusive residents – I’d call them full out hippies, but that might not be PC – who TEAR DOWN any sign providing directions into their unincorporated community.
Thanks to Adam, we managed to find the town just fine.
I think the status I posted to Facebook as we were entering the “downtown area” sums up my feelings perfectly:
I have officially never felt more out of place wearing J Crew than I did when Adam pulled up in front of a “think globally eat locally” cafe for lunch in a very hippie “socially acknowledged nature loving town” called Bolinas. Needless to say, he loves me so much he didn’t make me get out of the car.
And it’s true, I was so scared of what the
hippies reclusive residents might do to me that I refused to get out of the car for lunch.
It was a wonderful trip and was exactly the relaxation we wanted after the hustle and bustle from our wedding festivities. Now I just have to figure out when we can go back – I miss our cottage…and the wine.
Great blog! And great photos! You give some great Napa ideas!
What a beautiful place! I have always heard Napa Valley is incredible. It is on my list to travel to and I know where to go now! 🙂
You must go! It was perfection 🙂