Friday, November 14, 2014

Napa Valley: Day 1

Let's talk a little bit about our anniversary trip to Napa Valley. You may have observed that I have a bit of a Type-A, control-freak personality...but I'm actually kind of opposite of that when it comes to vacations. I don't like to be on a strict schedule while on vacation; I'd rather do whatever we feel like doing whenever we feel like doing it. However, that mindset doesn't really work for a vacation in Napa Valley. Sooooo...I did what any Type-A, control-freak would do:
  • Consulted {begged} anyone and everyone with any knowledge of Napa Valley to determine which wineries and restaurants we should visit.
  • Created a spreadsheet with all of the recommendations.
    • I must admit that the spreadsheet I created was pretty much useless {essentially just a really long list that we had no idea how to narrow down}, but then we were gifted a spreadsheet from a true Napa expert that designated the wineries into three categories: "Highly Recommend," "Great If You Have Time," and "Skip This Trip." {When Ryan saw this fabulous spreadsheet, I believe he said, "Wow...there really are other people in the world that are like you!"} Anyway, thank you to my dear friend Sabrina for saving my sanity with that amazing spreadsheet full of detailed notes!
  • Created a google map with all potential wineries and restaurants to minimize driving/travel time.
I'm not going to lie...the planning part was pretty stressful for me. I wanted to make sure we had reservations/appointments to fill our time, but I didn't want our schedule to be so tight that we'd be constantly hurrying to get to the next place. We solved this by scheduling just one or two tours/tastings each day and then filling in with nearby wineries that do not require appointments/reservations. We had a solid schedule outlined before we left, but it definitely had flexibility. I am so glad we did it this way...if we had over-scheduled ourselves, I'm sure I would have ruined all the fun by being a drill sergeant the entire trip just making sure we got to each and every place ON.TIME {I don't do late!}. Moral of the story: plan ahead, but leave some flexibility in your schedule. 

Whoa...are you still with me? Sorry about all that endless babbling! Moving right along now...

We left Dallas early in the morning and arrived in San Francisco at 9:30 AM, which left the whole day open for F-U-N.
Our first Virgin America flight...
and now we never want to fly any other airline!
San Francisco
Leaving San Francisco en route to Wine Country

First stop: Fremont Diner for lunch. This was a fun stop for lunch in Sonoma. We sat outside on the patio to enjoy the beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery.
Sonoma, CA, Napa Valley, onion rings, beer, Greetings from Sonoma

After lunch, we drove into Napa and checked into our hotel {The Westin Verasa}, and then we walked around to check out the downtown area. We passed by a tasting room that is now serving ladies...Phew! 

We continued walking and stopped by Taste at Oxbow to sip a little wine.
Wine Tasting, Napa Valley
Linds was napping, so I had two dates at Taste of Oxbow

Next up: cave tour and barrel tasting at Del Dotto Vineyards {the St. Helena location}. Hands down, this was our favorite winery! It's an absolutely beautiful place...the tour is amazing and includes some fabulous wines {big cabs}. Word on the street is Del Dotto has heavy pours...I wouldn't disagree!

Posing with our very entertaining tour guide

The day we arrived happened to be Lindsay's birthday, and she chose Cole's Chop House to celebrate. Excellent choice! It was beyond delicious...amazing food and exceptional service! 

Happy 33rd Birthday, Linds! 
Bananas Foster for the Birthday share with us!

Coming soon: Day 2 in Napa Valley