Napa

Friday, June 19, 2009

Today, we were up bright and early at 7:30 a.m. so that I could call the rental car places as soon as they opened.

Without going into a ton of detail, my loving relationship with Priceline almost came to an end this morning. Thankfully, after a few hours of turmoil, they redeemed themselves (or, I guess I should say, they finally did what they should've done from the very beginning of the situation) and all is now right with the world.

Because of my dealings with Priceline on the phone (that took way longer than they should have), and problems catching a trolley (we had several pass us by at max capacity), we got a much later start to our Napa trip than we had hoped. But once we were on the road, it was all good.

Our GPS wanted to take us in the opposite direction of the Golden Gate Bridge (it wanted to take us over the Bay Bridge, actually), but we knew we wanted to drive across the Golden Gate. After overriding our GPS and using a good ol'-fashioned map, we were able to experience the bridge in all of its glory. And, of course, I had to snap a few photos as Michael drove us across:

Very cool. And did I mention how gorgeous the weather was today? Look at that sky!

Once we got into Napa Valley, we kind of lolly-gagged around for a while, sort of driving aimlessly and just checking out the sights. Going off of another blog reader's recommendation, we decided that our first stop would be at Mumm.

The "tasting room" wasn't at all what I was expecting. It was wayyy better. I've been to several wineries at home--we have our own little "wine country" close by in the Fingerlakes--so I thought it would be similar out here, but I was wrong. We didn't just stand around a bar with our wine glasses in hand. Instead, we were seated, as if at a restaurant, and given a menu. Quite lovely!

We settled on our "order," and we were able to taste four champagnes. Wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Our waiter actually let us taste a 5th, too... shhhhh! :)

Note to self: When giving camera to waiter and/or strangers in the future, put camera on "auto" setting as to avoid overexposed photos like this one. Oh well. I was able to save it (somewhat) in post-processing. It's still cute.

Check out our view from the "tasting room" at Mumm. Gorgeous.

After our tasting, we walked around the grounds a little bit.

From there, we headed out to St. Helena to grab something to eat. We had heard (from yet ANOTHER blog reader) that we should stop at Taylor's Refresher for a bite to eat. We didn't want much--just something to hold us over until dinner--so it seemed like a reasonable place to stop. Little did we know that it would be such a popular place!

The line was huge, and we ended up waiting about half an hour. At a burger joint! Oh well; it was worth it for our delicious milkshake (perfect for the 90-degree weather) and garlic fries.

Our waiter at Mumm had recommended we visit Sterling, so after our little snack, we decided to check it out. While it was expensive, it did seem to offer quite a bit of bang for our bucks.

We rode the gondola up the mountain and tasted several wines as we guided ourselves through the "self-guided" tour of the winery.

And who can complain when you have views like this?:

Actually, I did have one teeny-tiny complaint. IT. WAS. OH. SO. HOT. The 90-degree temperatures definitely started getting to me. Especially when out on this terrace area just BAKING in the sun. But it was gorgeous, and HELLO, we were in Napa, so we fought through it.

After we were done with tour, we were led into a tasting room and were served far more wine samples than I had been expecting. I was downright tipsy by the time we went back out into the heat. I enjoyed quite a few of them!

Once done with our tasting, we rode the gondola back down the mountain.

On our way off of the Sterling property, we pulled the car over to take a few more pictures of the scenery:

By the time we were done, it was 5:00 p.m. (where did the day go?!) and we realized that most of the wineries were actually closing for the day. Not only that, but I was still feeling the effects from our tasting at Sterling (no doubt it was exacerbated by the heat), so I didn't know if I even wanted to attempt another tasting anyway. We were getting quite hungry, so we decided to head back south to get dinner.

A few months back, when I asked for Seattle/San Francisco recommendations, my friend, Lesley, told me that her fiance's uncle owns an Italian restaurant in Napa, and said that if we had the chance, we should eat there. We figured, what the hell? Might as well check it out, right? Plus, we were in the mood for Italian anyway.

And so we plugged the address into our GPS and wound up at Piccolino's, right in downtown Napa.

Once we were seated, I asked the waiter if the owner was around today. I explained that we had a "family connection," and he said that he would check, and if the owner was there, he'd send him out to talk to us.

A few minutes later, Joe came by to introduce himself to us, and actually joined us at our table. We talked for quite a bit of time--I'd say at least 10 minutes!--and discussed everything from Lesley and Steve, to Western New York, to careers and how Joe got to be where he is today. It was a nice conversation, and cool to meet someone from "back home" way out here in California. To top it all off, Joe treated us to some complimentary appetizers! Bruschetta, crab cakes and a cup of potato garlic soup--everything was fantastic. We were stuffed before our entrees even came out! I had chicken marsala, and Michael had fettucine with bay shrimp. By the time we were done, I practically had to be rolled out of there. So good! We highly recommend Piccolino's.

After dinner, it was past 7:00, and it was unfortunately time to bid farewell to Napa and head on back to San Francisco. We had a lovely time, and will hopefully go back some day!

Now that we're back in the city, it's time to explore it a bit more. We haven't really had the opportunity, so we're looking forward to tomorrow.

1 comments:

Michelle June 29, 2009 at 1:58 PM  

Ahh yes, the Northern California heat can put quite the damper on a fun trip. I'm glad you guys worked through it. I feel so lucky to live in this area of California! So many beautiful sites. Can't wait to see how the rest of the vacation went!!

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