Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tour of Napa

The hubs and I really wanted to go back to Napa to celebrate our three year wedding anniversary, but we didn’t want to do the same Napa trip we’ve done several times before. So we decided to delay our trip until August and go just before harvest, for the Eagle Cycling Annual Tour of Napa. There were 35-mile and a 65-mile ride, and we did a combo of the two – just cutting out the long ride up to the lake. We estimate it was about 45-50 miles in length. This way we still could bike by all our favorite wineries, but were done in time to enjoy a Sunday in Yountville.

Our trip started on a Friday; we flew straight into SFO and took the Golden Gate bridge over the Bay on our way to Sonoma. 

We spent the afternoon in Sonoma. First we visited Sebastiani. Next we did a  multi-winery tasting room and browsed in Sonoma Square. We had dinner at Eldorado Kitchen in Sonoma Square. 
Sebastiani Winery in Sonoma

After dinner we headed to Yountville, just north of Napa. We hadn’t ever stayed anywhere but downtown Napa, so it was nice to change things around. The newly renovated Hotel Yountville was absolutely gorgeous. We had a huge suite with outdoor garden and patio and a giant whirlpool soaker tub – perfect for tired muscles after the bike ride. We wanted a big first floor room so we could wheel our bikes in from the patio.

The Beautiful Hotel Yountville

 On Saturday morning we went to the famous Bouchon Bakery just down the street from our hotel. 

After croissants and coffee, we were ready for our first tasting of the day -  Schramsberg. Because we’re in the sparkling wine club there, we were able to do a private cave tasting. Schramsberg is a special place because we went there to celebrate after getting our marriage license three years ago.


We went to Twomey next (same owner as Silver Oak), then a quick stop at the Culinary Institute on our way to Silver Oak. Our Silver Oak tour and tasting resulted in an amazing score – a wood engraved wine crate! 

                                         Silver Oak Wine Crate - Score!

We finished off the day with a Cabernet tasting at Darioush (where we had wedding pictures taken), and a quick tasting at Domaine Chandon - the site of one of our favorite memories from our wedding weekend. We had spent the afternoon before our wedding sprawled out on the lawn at Domaine Chandon with our friends and siblings, enjoying chilled sparkling wine and the sunshine. 

 Domaine Chandon

After a day of tastings, we went back to Yountville to pick up our bike rentals. The convertible we rented really came in handy!

Who needs a bike rack?
On our way to dinner at Bottega
On Sunday morning we grabbed breakfast and hopped on our bikes to head to the starting line of the Tour of Napa. It was a rolling start of over 2,000 cyclists, so we wanted to start early but avoid the crowd at the very beginning. It was cool in the morning and although it warmed up considerably, we were never too hot during the ride. We stopped often to take pictures and enjoy the views. 

 After the ride, we had an amazing lunch just outside the gates of Domaine Chandon. At the finish line there was everything from tacos and BBQ chicken to beer and ice cream. We enjoyed a little of everything! 

Beer and ice cream? Yes, please. 
Our first stop after the Tour of Napa was Mumm Napa – which was especially fun since we had biked by it twice earlier that day! Rollie had scheduled a library tasting of retiring sparkling wines on the Oak Terrace overlooking the vineyards.

We hit some of our other favorite spots that day too. We went to Elizabeth Spencer (where we had family and friends gather our first night in Napa on our wedding weekend) to pick up wines that wouldn’t be included in our wine club shipment. V. Sattui was a must-stop for a few bottles and shippers – an especially memorable place since my parents had hosted our entire group there the day before our wedding for a lunch, tour and private barrel tasting. Finally, we went back to our hotel to change and go to dinner at Auberge du Soleil, the very place we got married. We had dinner on the patio at Auberge du Soleil, overlooking the same views from our wedding ceremony. The food was amazing - even our desserts were over-the-top. 

 Darioush Winery                                                        Heading to Auberge du Soleil

Monday morning we left for SFO, but our flight was delayed, so we grabbed coffee in Yountville and then stopped in at Domaine Carneros for one last round of sparkling wine. It was the perfect conclusion to our trip.

A trio of happiness

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