Napa Recap

After our trip to Yosemite, Matt and I were certainly looking forward to the luxuries of Napa. Forget the wine and good food, we were simply excited about sleeping in a bed and taking a nice hot shower – two things that we didn’t have during the 4 days we were in Yosemite. After showering and a good night sleep Matt and I ventured up to to the famous vineyards of the Napa Valley.

The first vineyard that we visited was Opus One, an exclusive winery that produces one type of wine, Vintage, each year. The wine costs approximately 200 dollars a bottle; however, the price increased along with the age of the wine. Someone on our tour said that the 2005 Vintage was selling for nearly 400 dollar a bottle.

On our tour of the vineyard, we saw the grape vines, the room that they process the grapes and the huge vats where they fermented the grapes into wine.


Grape Harvesting Machine

Fermentation Vats

Every year, wine is poured into new french oak barrels that cost 1,000-1,500 dollars EACH to age for 2 years. The aging process brings out the flavors of the multiple grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Every year, the Vintage wine changes slightly and typically improves with time.

I was stunned with the attention to detail, the cleanliness and the care that Opus One gives its grapes and the wine making process. They throw money into things: hedge trimming, new equipment and new oak barrels every year, that other vineyards can only dream about. Their building has a story all its own. You couldn’t help but be impressed with the operations taking place inside the winery and the sense of pride that the employees exhibited during our tour.

After our hour-long tour, I could not wait to try their Cabernet wine. Finally we were led into their tasting room where our wine had been aerating, awaiting our arrival. I was very excited as I swirled the glass like a pro and took a sniff. Smelled pretty good to me… I brought the glass to my lips and took a small sip. I looked at Matt to gauge his reaction. He was clearly enjoying the wine and could taste the handpicked grapes, the 12 pairs of eyes that scanned the grapes for anything not good enough for opus one, and the 1,500 hundred-dollar oak barrels. I tasted 2 buck chuck. After all of that, this wine that cost 200+ dollar per bottle, tasted like the 2 dollar a bottle wine that you can buy at Trader Joes.

I tell you… you can take the girl out of New Hampshire, but you can’t take New Hampshire out of the girl.

After a few days of wine tasting, we left the vineyards a lot more knowledge of wine. We also left with countless new adjectives added to our vocabulary. Who knew that you could describe wine, essentially grape juice, in so many different ways: oaky, strawberry, mango, green apple, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, apple pie, cherries, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, toasted nuts, buttery, caramel, dry, structured, more structured, toasted oak, raspberry, and peppery.

So after all of that, I am confident that my wine buying style (inherited from my mom) of buying the bottle with the coolest label, works just fine.

So that ends our amazing California vacation. From San Francisco to Yosemite to Napa. I had a great experience and Matt and I added unforgettable memories to our growing collection. Thank you Matt for planning an unbelievable vacation. I love you! Next up, Hawaii :)

San Fran Recap

Matt and I flew into San Fran on Friday night and spend the weekend there with the BEST hosts ever, Susie and Chase. They planned a very busy, yet not very typical, weekend in the city for us. Susie is originally from San Fran, so she prides herself on showing people the “real” city; not the seals at the piers or Ghirardelli Square.

We started off the weekend with some amazing food at a small restaurant on Chestnut Street. I fell in love with their neighborhood, they live in the Marina District, where the streets are lined with cute shops and minimal “chain” stores. The only “negative” to living in San Fran that I could find was the cold weather. When I left New York, the weather had been sunny and 90 degrees. When we arrived in San Fran, the weather was cloudy and 70. However, as a native New Hampshirite, I don’t really mind the cold; especially when it comes to dress. Unlike New York, where the “going out dress code” consists of short skirts, tank tops and heels (which I clearly never partake in) regardless of the temperature, from what I gathered, the dress code in San Fran was jeans and North Face fleece coats which is MUCH more my scene. I remember one time a bouncer in New York gave me a hard time about getting into the bar because I was wearing Uggs and a North Face fleece coat.

Saturday our day began very early with Chase starting things off at 8am. We ventured over to the Ferry Building where countless vendors lined the sides of the streets selling fresh fruit, corn, vegetables, bread, meats, and the world’s best coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee. We walked around a bit, purchased some breakfast and bought some food for our upcoming camping trip to Yosemite.

After the Ferry building we went to the Filbert Steps in the city. We walked the steps which serve as the only access point to various apartments and houses. I kept thinking how inconvenient it would be to live there until I realized that it is pretty much the same thing as living in a 4th or 5th floor walk up in NYC.

Following the steps, we rented kayaks and paddled our way around the bay. We enjoyed beautiful views of the city and numerous seals. They let us get pretty close as they sun bathed along the docks.

Our next stop was the Tourist Club, a german social/hiking club in the middle of the woods. We took in the views and enjoyed a beer for about an hour. The whole time I was there, I felt like I was at a summer camp for adult hikers.

On our way back to Susie and Chase’s apartment, we stopped at the beach and another bar/restaurant area with views of a popular surfing beach.

We capped off day one with a mexican dinner and drinks for Susie’s Birthday. By the time we found our way back to their apartment, I practically fell into bed. Needless to say, it was a very long, but very fun day.

On Sunday we woke up and went to Boudin Bakery for breakfast. Afterwards it was off to Sports Basement to pick up a few camping supplies and then to the Golden Gate bridge where we were able to take some classic tourist pictures.

Our last San Fran adventure was to trip to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. Here we made out way over the rickety old bridge that brings you to the lighthouse that sits on the very tip of the bay. While the lighthouse was impressive and had unbelievable views of the city, it was overshadowed by who came along with us.

After getting engaged, I have become obsessed with wedding blogs. At first I was intrigued by this mystery world that I didn’t know existed. It is crazy what you become exposed to once you put a diamond ring on your finger: wedding blogs, expos and countless decisions to make. Well, one of my all-time favorite wedding blogs is written by Susie’s high school friend. So on Sunday, I was introduced to the master mind behind the blog, Snippet & Ink. Needless to say, it was like meeting one of the big celebrities in the wedding world.

I was sad to leave San Fran so soon; however Chase and Susie made it seem like we had been there much longer than 2 days.

Up next… our trip to Yosemite. Stay tuned!