Friday, October 21, 2011
(For day 1, click here)
(For day 1, click here)
Friday began with breakfast at our hotel and a few more pictures of Healdsburg, which is currently our #1 retirement destination (sorry Greenville, you’ve been bumped to number 2). We picked up some drinks at Safeway and were ready to explore wine country.
I really didn’t expect anything fun to happen until we reached our first destination but the drive was just stunning. We were surrounded by vineyards, which were the most gorgeous fall colors. At one point we’d been driving under an umbrella of trees when we saw a rustic bridge. Once we made it to the bridge the trees disappeared and we could see for miles in all directions. We took CA-128/29 south from Healdsburg all the way to Napa and it was incredible.
The first place we stopped was Castell di Amorosa. It was a giant castle and the landscaping was so pretty. We didn’t have a driver for the day so we’d limited ourselves to three tastings. Regardless, we’d heard this place was gorgeous so we stopped for pictures.
Back in the car! We stopped at St. Helena to have a quick lunch at The Model Bakery and I also purchased a cute wool headband to protect my ears from the wind/cold when we went to Alcatraz. There is a reason I’m telling you this tiny detail—more on that later. Wish we would've had more time here, it was a neat town.
Our first stop to actually taste wine was Saddleback Cellars. It was as relaxed and laid-back as they come. We sat at a picnic table and they left us alone until our glasses were empty and then they magically appeared—it was glorious! They also had country (and I mean COUNTRY) music playing. Most of you know I am NOT a country music fan but it just fit here. If we didn’t like the wine we were told to “dump it on the ground—it’s great for the grass.” I don’t think either of us dumped anything, the wine was amazing. I believe it was my favorite time of the entire trip. Since I’ve been back at work I’ve had a few stressful moments and I just picture us back at Saddleback, sitting at a picnic table listening to "Luckenbach, Texas." Everything around us seemed to slow down a bit and in turn, so did we.
After tasting the-best-wine-we’ve-ever-consumed-
and-had-to-turn-down-because- it-was-$60-a-bottle, we drove to Cakebread Cellars, which was just a mile away and recommended by my bff Summer. We were greeted with a glass of sauvignon blanc and given a really nice tour of the grounds. The wine was amazing here as well! One person in our group walked off to take a phone call almost immediately after the tour began. Of course he came back 30 minutes later and asked all sorts of questions that had already been answered. I believe they should ban phone calls in wine country. Or maybe just that guy.
After this wine tasting I was once again feeling a bit loopy. I was our navigator and got us lost approx 14 times. I’ve never been a good driver but I usually rule with a map in front of me. But no. Not so much. As I'm staring out the window Michael would nicely say, “Hey, shouldn’t we turn pretty soon? Merd? MERD!” Yeah, we were supposed to turn a mile ago.
We quickly stopped at Artesa Vineyards & Winery for pictures, which had a beautiful view....
...and then ended our tasting at Domaine Carneros. We sat outside on an enormous wrap-around patio, ordered a cheese and fruit platter and sipped champagne. I took a video and in the course of 30 seconds I tell you where we are twice. After the video I took several pictures of a bird. (Shaking head.) I am not posting either.
It was time to head back to San Francisco to check into our hotel and get ready for dinner. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun was setting, dropped the car off at the rental place and checked into our hotel. We’d wanted to stay in Union Square but not be forced to sell a kidney to pay for it so we chose The Crescent. It was a fine hotel but absolutely nothing special. The room was big enough to hold our bed and one suitcase. Location couldn’t be beat, but if we went back we’d probably stay elsewhere.
We walked to Epic Roasthouse and something magical happened that has never, ever happened to us before. We got the best seat in the restaurant (window seat with a perfect view of the Bay Bridge). Ok, I got the best seat in the restaurant. Michael was still screwed a bit due to the wall placement. For one reason or another, we are always given the worst table in a restaurant—it’s become a bit of a joke and I was positively giddy to not sit next to the bathroom, kitchen, or back corner. Our meal was as good as the view (I’m still dreaming about the halibut and risotto) and a perfect way to end the day.
(View from Epic--picture taken from their website...)