Sunday, June 16, 2013

San Francisco/Napa Trip | Day Three

After a busy day exploring San Francisco, it was time for our first day of winery tours. To say that I was excited is a huge understatement, because I really feel like Napa Valley is the equivalent of Disneyland for (wine-loving) adults. 

For our Saturday tour, we used Platypus Wine Tours. We provided them with a list of a few wineries that we really wanted to visit, and they filled in the rest. Our tour guide was Mark (more on him later), and he was great! Mark picked us up bright and early (9:30 a.m.) in this bad boy...

His name was Elroy. And he was ready to party. 

I really liked the set-up of the inside of the bus, because we could all see each other and it was easy to talk during our ride (as opposed to the bus we had on Sunday). Also, we had some super tall dudes with us, and they still had plenty of room. 

The Hicks' friends John Marc and Gigi also joined us for our tour (the two on the far left). 

[FYI...I didn't bring my "fancy" camera along this day, because I wasn't sure if I would want to lug it around to the wineries (so all of these were taken on my iPhone...with a few stolen from Lolly and Sarah, including the group shot above). But I regretted this decision. So for all of you out there who are debating this same question, I recommend bringing your camera if you have a tour bus to leave it on if needed.]


Our first stop of the day was Schramsberg Vineyards, which is known for its sparkling wines, caves, and cool history.

Some pics before the tour...

We all loved the dancing frog. Especially Lolly :). 
We started our tour with a little history lesson. Schramsberg has been around since the late 1800s, so there was quite a story to tell. Perhaps the coolest part is that their "Blanc de Blancs" sparkling wine was used for President Nixon's 1972 "Toast to Peace" with China's Premier Zhou Enlai, and Schramsberg wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since. 

Once we were caught up on their history, it was time for the cave tour. We all agreed that the tour was super cool (even those of us...ahem, me...who are a wee bit claustrophobic and scared of caves). 

The stacks and stacks of bottles, which were many rows deep, were crazy!

And I love how they looked up close and personal...

I think I will title this picture, "Luzzury."

[If you don't get this reference, please click here. You're welcome.] 

And this one is "Tall Men in a Cave." 

Once we reached the end of the cave tour, it was time for the tasting. 

And these were the wines we got to try...

We tried four sparkling wines and one Cabernet. They were all good and an excellent way to start the day (I mean...who doesn't want to start the day with a little bubbly?!), but I think the cave tour was the highlight of this winery. 


Next, it was time for our (slightly-tipsy) crew to head to Benessere Vineyards for another tasting and lunch. This is one of the wineries that our tour guide had selected, because they would allow us to eat our picnic lunch (which Platypus provided...and it was so good!) on the property. It was a last-minute addition to the itinerary, so we didn't really know what to expect. 

But as soon as we headed down this beautiful road, I knew we were in for a treat. 

It was such a beautiful property. 

We were also the only ones there during our tasting, which made the experience even better. 

Keep it coming! (Or as Mark taught us to say, "I'd like to revisit that one.")

My favorite Benessere wine that we tried was the 2010 "Holystone-Collins"Old Vine Zinvandel. We definitely bought a bottle. 

After the tasting, we got a short tour of the property, including the gorgeous family home. 

The wrap-around porch was ridiculous. I wanted to move in. 

I mean...can you imagine if this was the view from your backdoor?!

Benessere was definitely one of my favorite wineries. It was so beautiful and quaint. And the wine was delicious (and reasonably priced). A+. 

Frog's Leap

Per the recommendation of several friends, we added Frog's Leap Winery to our list. And I'm glad we did. 

It was beautiful...

And the wine was good (but not my favorite)...

The only downside was that, despite how it looks in the pictures below, it was super crowded when we were there. Since we had a large party, we didn't have a seated tasting. Rather, we wandered around the gardens and went up to the bar when we were ready for our next glass. 

But on the positive side, Josh and Lane finally found a winery that allowed cigar smoking. 

Why, hello handsome. 

We had a great time wandering around the property. And since this was our third tasting of the day, this is about the time that things got...interesting :). 


Hall St. Helena

For our last stop of the day, we visited Hall St. Helena

We were seated outside on the patio, and ordered the 10-wine tasting (which was a bold choice at the end of the day). 

The winery's motto is "Crazy Good Cabs," so I knew that I would be a fan. And I was not disappointed. Here is our wonderful tour guide Mark displaying one such lovely Cab. 

And speaking of Mark...even though we doubted his abilities pre-trip due to his lack of e-mail responsiveness, he turned out to be such a great fit for our group. He was knowledgable, friendly, and super laid back. He also made a mean picnic lunch. 

Our host at Hall, Jeff Dreyfus (no relation) was great as well.
So was the Pinot. 

We all loved this winery. You can tell by the smiles and stolen kisses...

With wine-stained lips and tipsy temperaments, it was time to head back to our hotel for a short (and probably-not-a-good-idea) nap before dinner. 

Cole's Chop House

For our Saturday night dinner, the Hicks and their friends went to Celadon, and the rest of us headed to Cole's Chop House

After some cocktails...

Josh and I started with the wedge salad and "Lobster and Shrimp Bisque in Puff Pastry." Both were excellent. 
Josh ordered the "Cole's Famous U.S.D.A. Prime - 21 Day Chicago Dry-Aged New York Steak" and the "Thin Sliced Onion Rings" (which I stole quite a few of). 

I ordered the steak special, which came with a red wine mushroom sauce and lobster mashed potatoes.  I think the best part was the mashed potatoes...they were unreal. 

The food was all delicious (it was Josh's favorite meal), but the highlight of the night was probably the celebrity sighting and the jokes that ensued. 

As you can (kind of) see in the photo below, Judy Greer dined at the table next to us. 

As a result, Lolly kept threatening to post various things on Twitter/Instagram about Judy with #besties as the running theme. For example, "We saved you some of our bananas foster. #besties" and "That was so cute when you dropped your knife during dinner. #besties." 

We were dying laughing. And thus, #besties became one of the running jokes for the rest of the trip. 

And speaking of the rest of the trip, up next is our second day of winery tours, including my favorite winery, a drunken lunch, and a super fancy dinner. 

1 comment:

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About Me

My name is Catherine, but most of my friends call me Cat. I was born and raised in Austin, went to TCU, and ended up in Dallas for law school (where Josh and I met). I decided that being an attorney was not my cup of tea and pursued a career in legal marketing instead. I am now a mother of two attempting to balance family with a full-time job, which is always an adventure. I love: my sweet babies, handsome husband, very large family, and fabulous friends; trying new restaurants; wine; TCU football; holidays; cooking; The Bar Method; pajamas; La Croix; reading; coffee; podcasts; Central Market; carbs; the beach; mani/pedis; Anthropologie; binge-worthy TV shows; trivia; French 75s; Pinterest; cheese boards; The Ticket; dancing; Sprinkles cupcakes; The Texas Rangers; fresh flowers; thunderstorms; naps; Tex-Mex; the Texas Hill Country; porch-sitting; ranch dressing; throwing parties; and my job. I hate: working-mom guilt; snakes; heights; waking up early; ignorant people; stomach bugs; paper cuts; green fruit; snoring; bad hair days; the sound of people eating (Misophonia); scary movies; bad drivers; pulpy OJ; trimming baby fingernails; and Miracle Whip. I think that about sums it up.


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