I cannot wait to recap this vacation!! Derek and I were so ready to get away for a few days. It honestly was last minute (last minute for us anyway) and that was perfect so we didn't have to wait too long for the trip to come. Neither of us had ever been to California so we were ready to explore.
We arrived in San Francisco, grabbed our rental car, and took off towards Napa. Derek convinced me to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (I was hesitant because it was 39 minutes out of our way...I like to stay on schedule :) ). I'm so glad he convinced me....as everybody mentions, the Golden Gate Bridge is not golden. Even though I've heard this many times, I was so surprised by the color. It was super grand and beautiful to see!
As soon as we started hitting Sonoma county, I couldn't wait to get out of the car to take pictures! It was so beautiful and reminded me of our Italy trip. AND PS- we had the PERFECT weather the whole time we were there. It was pouring buckets before arriving and I guess after we left. I could not get enough of the blue skies, green land, and vineyards :)
We were starved by the time we got into Yountville, the small town we were staying. We stopped at R+D Kitchen to grab lunch (it was 4pm our time and we only had breakfast that morning). I had the best salad of my life...mango, avocado, tomato, thai noodles, and filet mignon. So, so good! Derek and I looked around and noticed we were the only ones not enjoying an adult beverage...it was 1pm..we knew we were going to love this place :) However, because of the long flight, coffee was in- order first!
We then checked in to the Villagio Inn...this is hands down the nicest accommodations we have ever experienced. The rooms were gorgeous!
We left to do our first tasting...Schramsberg, which is a sparkling wine vineyards. We wanted to start our tastings with sparkling. Plus, we heard great things about their cave tour.
None of these pictures do this justice, but basically these vineyards are way high up on a hill. You have to drive on a teeny-tiny road to get there.
These photos are inside the cave...you can see the original pic marks from the axes used to make these tunnels in the last 1800s. It was amazing to hear and see the history! Schramsberg is known as America's most prestigious sparkling wine. The wine was used in the Nixon's administration and since been used at state functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since.
I can't even begin to tell you how much we learned on this tour (or trip!), but one of the coolest thing I learned about was the art of Riddling. This is the process of consolidating the sediment so they are able to then remove it (the sediment). The bottles are turned so many degrees at certain points of the day for WEEKS. At the very end, the sediment is trapped in the neck of the bottle, which is then removed. Most sparkling wine producers use a machine to do this. Schramsberg still does it by hand! They have thousands of bottles to turn....4 or so people (I forget their titles) can do these so fast and get everything done in just a few hours. Ah-mazing!
The cave tour ended with an adorable tasting. We really liked two bottles during the tasting...of course they were the most expensive :) Derek and I have found a bottle of champagne that we really like and is way more affordable, so we left here empty handed. We were filled with knowledge though :)
Right after our tasting, we left for our mud bath. If you're wondering why we would ever want to do this...I don't have a good answer for you lol. Calistoga is known for their natural mineral springs and mud baths. I thought, when in Rome. Derek on the other hand, thought I was crazy but kept his mouth shut like a good husband :) Honestly, I was wondering what I got us into too when we arrived. However, the experience was very pleasantly surprising. You literally submerge yourself in this hot mud. It is so awkward to get in these baths because there are hot coils on the bottom to heat the mud. So, you have to put your butt in first since you are not able to stand up. I couldn't stop laughing trying to get in this thing! Once you are in there and get over the whole notion...it was very easy to relax. Even though we were only in the mud for 10 minutes or so, when getting out, I felt like I had a full body massage. EXTREMELY relaxing. A hot spring bath and cool down nap followed.
That evening we had dinner at Ad Hoc (a Thomas Kellar restaurant). I guess we missed Fried Chicken night (it was the next night and the locals favorite), but we were completely underwhelmed by this restaurant. In fact, this was our least favorite meal of the whole trip. PLUS, after that mud bath, our bodies were so spent (not to mention the cross country flight), and all I wanted to do was crawl in bed and sleep! We needed some rest for our coming days tasting all the red wine!...Part II coming soon