For today's Thursday 13 I will be doing my Recap of the trip to Napa Valley I took with my friends DeeDee and Suzie, which is several weeks overdue, but better late than never, right?
Turns out I am still a terrible navigator. I ended up directing us to Oakland (which is a standing joke since I did that while travelling to JournalCon 02 in San Francisco) instead of around it as originally planned. Luckily, DeeDee is familiar with the Napa area, and was able to direct us to the hotel in Vallejo with little trouble.
According to Expedia.com, the site on which DeeDee made the hotel reservations, we were supposed to get two Queen beds and a roll-a-way in our room, but suddenly the hotel doesn't provide roll-a-ways because they pose a threat if there is a fire. Something about them blocking exits, or something. WTF? Anyway, DeeDee and I ended up sharing a bed, which really wasn't that bad.
Napa Valley is beautiful! I'd heard of its beauty before, but since I had never been there, I had no idea just how lovely it is. Before boarding the Wine Train, we drove around and looked at the scenery (turned out we took just about exactly the same route as the train was going to take, but I don't think any of us cared, except maybe Suzie who did all the driving), scoping out which wineries and towns we wanted to visit later. The leaves were just starting to change, and the colours were amazing!
At the station before the trip on the Wine Train, a wine expert came out to teach us all a little bit about tasting and appreciating wine. Some of the tips and tricks were familiar, but some were new, including holding your hand over the glass while twirling it, then sticking your nose in and getting a good whiff of the scent. It's more powerful and you can smell more of the scents such as the floral notes that I don't often notice in wines.
The Train itself was great fun! We were seated in the Vista Dome and had the gormet lunch. It was delicious, and so beautifully presented! We got free champagne and the three of us toasted to our friendship. I later tried a red wine I'd never had before with my grilled quail, and it was quite good.
After our lunch, the three of us went exploring on the train. Let me tell you, walking on a moving train is an amazing workout! We walked all the way to the end car, and got a glimpse of some of the other seating options available. I think next time I might just sit in the lounge car - you get get food and wine in there, and the seats are really comfortable, and the view is great!
Later that afternoon, we drove around some of the outlying towns. We stopped in Calistoga and browsed some of the little shops along the main street. It's such a quaint little town! I would love to go back and visit there again some time.
The next day we visited the Beringer Winery. The grounds were beautiful - so elegantly landscaped with lush foliage, gorgeous flowers, topiaries and fountains! I ended up taking quite a few pictures there. We checked out the gift shop, and had planned to do some wine tasting there, but it was WAY too expensive for us, so we just looked around then moved on.
The other winery we visited was Sterling, which was really fantastic! We had to ride a tram to get up to the winery, which was up on top of a hill. The view was spectacular! The tour of the winery was very well organized. We started out getting a taste of wine as we got off the tram, then started the self-guided tour which took us through all aspects of wine making. There were video presentations along the way, as well as more wine to taste. It was probably the most interesting winery tour I've ever taken. And, the wine was delicious as well; I ended up buying two bottles before we left!
We spent quite a bit of time on the back patio enjoying the last two tastes of the tour. DeeDee and I also did an extra "flight" of wine tastes, so between all of us, we pretty much tasted all the wines Sterling has to offer. Because my companions aren't big fans of red wines, I ended up with extra, so I was pretty toasted by the time we left!
After passing by this hideously decorated place several times, we finally had to stop to take photos of what DeeDee called "The Freak House". It was gross and freakish and disturbing, and hopefully just decorated like this for Halloween. I hope it is not like this all the time! 12. It was totally an awesome weekend spent with wonderful company! I wish we could've stayed longer, but we all have lives and jobs and stuff to get back to. Hopefully we'll have a chance to get together again sometime soon!
We are enjoying a lovely afternoon of touring and wine tasting at this gorgeous vineyard. We took a gondola up the side of a mountain to the estate and have been enjoying the gorgeous view as well as the delicious wines.
Yesterday was beautiful - sunny and warm. By contrast today is cool and overcast. DeeDee, Suzie and I are off to check out a few wineries we didn't make it to yesterday before dropping Dee off at the airport and heading home.
Well, we made it to Vallejo, DeeDee, Suzie and I, last night and after checking into the hotel and arguing with the desk clerk because Expedia.com told DeeDee that we could get a rollaway bed, but the hotel doesn't provide rollaway beds because it's a fire hazard, and i am totally not making that up), immediately went out to Chevy's and drank margaritas all night then collapsed into bed and passed out. It was awesome.
Later this morning we're going on the Napa Wine Train for an afternoon of delicious food, yummy wine and gorgeous scenery. The rain we had yesterday is past, and it's sunny and clear. I'm hoping to get some great pictures!