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Napa Diaries

Bridget Connelly

Napa has been on my radar for quite some time now. I even went so far as to sign my fiance and I up for a timeshare meeting (no intentions of buying) in order to have a free weekend trip there. Thankfully, we dodged a bullet with that one, but my desire to go never ceased. After researching some solid flight costs, hotel options, and wineries, I bombarded my family members with emails until they relented and joined in on the trip. In total there were 10 of us, and the good wine and good food never quite stopped flowing. 

Upon arrival we stopped at the relatively new and highly reviewed Alpha Omega Winery— the property was impeccable and we were thirsty. It was instant elation. From there we stopped at the Auberge du Soliel, where the views were flawless. We enjoyed champagne and appetizers out on the terrace just in time for golden hour. We were encircled by rolling green vineyards and the illuminating glow of the setting sun in every direction. Napa serenity now. In the evening we dined at an Italian gem, called Oenetria. From what I am told you really cannot go wrong food-wise. Oenetria lived up to that and then some. While we waited for our table, we even sampled wines at the neighboring wine bar. Our hands were never empty — Napa was winning from the start!

We stayed at the Silverado Resort & Spa and it was not long enough. The grounds were gorgeous, the beds were like clouds, the guys were able to golf, the breakfast buffet was limitless, and the bar carried numerous wines from local wineries. What more could you need? Plus it was an ideal location to several Napa, Sonoma and St. Helena wineries. We took a private shuttle from our hotel to the wineries and back— wouldn't have had it any other way. If you do visit, know in advance the first two weeks in October get very busy — harvesting season. The wineries, hotels, restaurants and shuttles had been booked out for months. With the help of yelp! many phone calls, and references, we were able to get into just enough spots. Although next time, I will do a better job at planning ahead.

I could not say better things about our driver, Ron, and the shuttle service. He was such a treat! His company helped with all of our bookings and Ron made the day just delightful. We first visited Pine Ridge Winery. The darling vineyards, boutique indoor tasting rooms, our knowledgeable wine server and the hidden wave caves made this place a stand out. We tasted from a top notch selection of chardonnays and cabs, and frolicked about in the vineyards —  basking/baking/glowing in the sunshine. Alas, we had to head out to make our appointment at the next spot — St. Clement Winery.

I knew I liked St. Clement at first look. The winery — a charming Victorian house built in the 1880s— was rich with character. It stands situated atop a hill overlooking the vineyards, complete with a front porch swing (swoon). We spent over an hour chatting with the hosts, learning about new wines, and admiring the quaint property. We were also able to bring my dad (a non-vino lover) Coors Light— which made this his favorite stop of the day! We honestly could have hung out on that porch all day, but we had one more spot to make it too and I’m so glad we did.

Mumm Winery was up next and became a personal favorite. I love me a sparkling drink— wine, champagne, rose…. it’s the way to my heart. Ha! But seriously. This is what they are known for and whatever they are doing, it is working! We indulged in more drinks and snacks on the patio and rounded out our vino tour. Besides the heat ( Thank God for misters) it was just lovely.

The evening was still relatively young— we soon found ourselves at the Clubhouse for a few more drinks and laughs until we had reached our vino quota for the day (shockingly enough).  We  eventually made our way back to to our dreamy beds at Silverado that were calling (maybe not for my Sofa City Sweethearts Sean-iella though). I think its safe to say we all dozed off shortly after— our belly’s way too happy, our body’s feeling the good kind of hazy, and our hearts full of family memories. The best kind of memories usually ;). 

In the morning, we made our way into town to check out the Oxbow Public Market. This is a must see/eat/drink for breakfast or lunch. We grabbed  breakfast at Model Bakery. They are known for their out of this world Croissant sandwiches and Christmas-like Chai teas — and boy do they live up to that. I also picked up fresh-homemade granola. We explored the Market’s shops. Tasting olive oils, almonds, and chocolates as we went. Even if you are just there to sample (sorry about it) it’s incredible. We could have spent and stayed for hours longer, but our time was running out and so were our funds. Too quickly, the time came for us to make our way back to San Francisco and catch our flight home. 

Napa, was pretty hard to leave. Although SF wasn't too bad of a place to spend our last day up north. We had just enough time to absorb in some of this magical city — wandering around, relaxing in the park, and enjoying one more meal with the family. There were happy campers all around. 

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 Northern California will always hold a special place in my heart. It now holds a new memory with vino, vineyards and my family— it has certainly secured itself in there. I miss Napa, the wine and the way it brought us all together for the weekend already. But I’m certain I shall be back to wine country again — recreating these moments in new and special ways. Robert Mondavi says it spot on, “Wine to me is passion.  It's family and friends.  It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.  Wine is art.  It's culture.  It's the essence of civilization and the art of living.” A-men.