Hey there! Phew…Monday is over finally. That’s always a relief, no? This past weekend, James and I were going to attend a wedding in San Francisco that was cancelled last minute, but we decided to go ahead and make the best of our weekend since everything was booked already. It was a whirlwind of a trip, and I came back from San Francisco late last night/morning and was back to the grind today.
Lots of coffee helped me get through the day. Actually, the best part about cutting back on coffee is that when I do have some, I get a crazy energy jolt! But as soon as the caffeine wears off, I am back to suffering from Monday blues/exhaustion and vacation withdrawal…all in one shot!
We headed out to the West Coast after work on Thursday. I had never been to San Francisco before so there were plenty of things I wanted to see, and a wine tour in the Napa and Sonoma region was definitely on the top on my bucket list. Friday morning, we had a light breakfast at the hotel and I was more than ready to get a glass or two in my hand!
It was another beautiful day in California. With sunny days and blue skies like these, how can anyone wake up and not be in a great mood!?
On the way, we passed by miles and miles of vineyards and organic farms. Even though the wine harvest is over and things are no longer lush and green, Fall in the wine country is just as beautiful as the leaves on the vines start to change colors into shades of red and gold.
The first stop on our wine tour was Nicholson Ranch Winery in the foothills of the Sonoma Valley. Nicholson is a small, family-owned artisan winery that produces grapes for their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Merlot. In addition to their high quality wines, the welcoming outdoor area with couches, tables, and fire pits made it my favorite winery of the day.
When we arrived, glasses of Chardonnay were waiting for us, which was the perfect introduction to the day.
After sampling the white, we tried the 2009 Pinor Noir. My taste buds tend to pick out tannic note, or the tea flavor in this case, and I could barely detect the raspberry and molasses. By the way, drinking wine at 10am is not only acceptable, but encouraged, when you are on vacation ;)
Same with the Syrah. Tobacco note was the most prominent. Plum and clove…not so much.
Finally, we tried the award-winning 2010 Pinot Noir, which was hands-down my favorite red of the day! The wine has notes of raspberry, cherry, and baking spices, and is an overall easy to drink red.Sipping on wine and taking in the view of the vineyards and the surrounding hills – TGIF I must say!
Up next, we continued to Napa Valley to visit Madonna Estate, a winery that uses organic farming methods and combines traditional and modern winemaking techniques.
Once inside, we were led to the tasting room to sample a few of their wines. We tried Dolcetta, a very dry red, and Barbera, a medium dry red, both of which I didn’t really enjoy.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed their Gewurtztraminer though. It’s sweet, aromatic, with bright grapefruit notes.
All that wine tasting whetted our appetite. Around noon, we stopped by Yountville, a charming little town with gourmet shops and restaurants, for a delicious lunch at Bottega.
To start, we shared an appetizer of wood-grilled octopus, which is probably James’ favorite thing to eat.
A loaf of fresh crusty bread was served with a parmesan “salsa” which the server explained was really easy to make: crumbled parmesan cheese, herbs, red pepper flakes, garlic, and olive oil are all the ingredients needed to make this addicting, delicious bread spread. I had to stop myself from eating in order to save room for the pasta and meat courses.
Our pasta course came in one giant potato ravioli stuffed with creamy ricotta and spinach mixture, topped with truffles and sage brown butter, and the best part…there’s an egg yolk inside!
For the main, we shared smoked and braised short ribs with grilled treviso and fried polenta and speck polpette. The polpette remind me of hush puppies, except on the drier side, and the speck didn’t really come through. The meat, however, was cooked perfectly, flavorful, and fall-off-the-bone tender.
After a satisfying lunch, we went inside the V Marketplace to take a peek and then off to the final winery of the day, Sutter Home in Napa Valley.
Sutter Home was established in the late 1800s, and it has become a household name for White Zinfindels in the US. A Reserve White Zinfindel was on the tasting list, as were a Retro Pinot Grigio and Retro Zinfindel. If you are a sweet wine lover, you’ll definitely like Sutter Home. The White Zinfindel tasted almost like a peach sangria. Most of the wines we tried were light on the tannin and could really pass as dessert wines.
It was a beautiful afternoon and a day well spent – I could not have been more content than to sip, savor, and sip some more. I’ve got more to show you, but a workout session is on the agenda for tonight. Stay tuned for my San Francisco recap tomorrow!