Girls Gone Napa: A Wine Country Weekend

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I love friends who are reliable. I don’t have a whole lot of time set aside in my somewhat insane schedule for fickleness, so when Abby, Diana and I were emailing back and forth in June, and one of them was all, “hey we should continue this over wine!” and the other was all, “sounds good to me!” and then 24 hours later, they both were in possession of plane tickets to San Francisco, I wondered why everyone in my life can’t be so efficient.

I’ve known Abby since 2005 when we both worked in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey at the headquarters for In Touch Weekly (hey, we all have to start somewhere). Three years later, I re-found her on Twitter, and we’ve been following each other’s travels ever since (and met for a quick drink and bite of sushi when she was in town for a night last fall). I hadn’t actually met Diana in person, though we have so many mutual friends (and so much in common), it already felt like we’d been pals a lifetime. Both live in Las Vegas, where Abby sits at the helm of Vegas Magazine and Diana does PR for some of the fanciest restaurants in town (and writes and blogs for a living, too).

July was the most illogical time for the three of us to try and plan a getaway. I had all of 17 days to get my act together between returning from two months away and packing up my life to move to the other side of the country, Abby had an insane work schedule including a week-long trip to New York the Monday following our weekend together, and Diana was preparing for a grand trip to Thailand. Still, I was leaving the West Coast for good, and we all wanted a rendezvous before that happened, so we made it work.

And we did what any upstanding young women let loose in Napa Valley would do for a weekend…

We ate.

The night Abby and Diana arrived was a particularly chilly one—you know the famous quote about San Francisco in July (which Mark Twain never actually said, FYI)—but these desert gals (wo)manned up after a quick cocktail at the Tonga Room, threw on some clothes and we met Spence, SVV and Steve at Off the Grid, San Francisco’s weekly food truck extravaganza. I gave them a few hours to sleep in their amazing room at the Fairmont on Nob Hill before picking them up and driving over the Golden Gate Bridge en route to Napa Valley.

But first things first: A girl can’t start her Saturday (or any day really) without brunch. I’d done a quick Yelp search to find a delicious breakfast spot just off Highway 101 that wouldn’t throw us too far off course. As always, Yelp delivered, this time in the form of Pier 15 in San Rafael. Don’t tell me you could seeΒ chocolate cinnamon French toast—that would be Swedish Cinnamon French Toast, drizzled with Chocolate and topped with seasonal fruit (like the ones at Shari’s berries) and bananas—on the menu and not stop. It was every bit as delicious as it looked, too.

Mid-afternoon we made our next culinary stop in the form of a snack at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher—which has been renamed Gott’s Roadside (what is up with that?!) and is my favorite meal in the Valley as it’s a gourmet answer to Sonic—in lieu of a full-on lunch, then for dinner, we headed to Oxbow Public Market, which I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Abby and Diana sampled the oysters from Hog Island Oyster Company—I wish I liked shellfish, but I just can’t—and then we shared a cheese plate and some wine across the way at Oxbow Cheese Plate.

Naturally, when I saw there was a Three Twins Organic Ice Cream booth just down the way, I had to indulge. If you’ve never had Three Twins, don’t walk, SPRINT to the nearest location that carries it and try their signature flavor, the lemon cookie. I don’t particularly like lemon-flavored anything, but by God, I would baby-step across a bed of hot coals for another scoop of this creamy goodness. And if you really want to burst an artery and you’re in the Bay Area, check out Chili Pies where they blend Three Twins ice cream with pie for one amazingly caloric milkshake. Yeah, I said it … PIE + ICE CREAM = PIE MILKSHAKE (aka a heart attack in a glass).

On the way back out of town to take them to the airport that Sunday, I Yelped again for a brunch on our route and came across the Boon Fly Cafe at Carneros Inn, lodging option of choice for many a celebrity. Everything about this place was perfect, from the barn decor to the service to the food.

Oh, and there was even a Bloody Mary WITH BACON on the menu, so Diana and I just had to try them. Don’t lie: You totally would have done the same.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. We stopped at some random pink facade hoping that pink meant cupcakes (it did, in fact), and Abby and Diana returned with the most amazing bounty of beautiful baked goodness.

In vino veritas. (Yes, we drank, too. Duh.)

We didn’t really have a schedule of vineyard where we wanted to stop. We kind of just drove and…went with it. My absolute favorite winery in California is Domaine Chandon, both because I love their champagne (I’m a sucker for the bubbly) and because they have one of the most beautiful tasting rooms. This time, however, we soaked up the sun and drank our flight of three sparklers out on the back patio.

From there, we drove from Yountville up the road in the direction of St. Helena, when Diana spotted Peju and mentioned they were supposed to have great wine. How could we pass without testing out that theory ourselves? (Actually, since I was driving, I took it easy at this stop and watched the girls in envy.)

Lastly, we hit up Caymus in Rutherford, where Diana’s boss had arranged us a private tasting. We sampled several different cabs, and while I can’t recall at the moment what all they were, I will say they were delicious!

Aaaand we slept (albeit briefly).

Diana had done some PR work long ago for a darling roadside motel-turned-inn, Chardonnay Lodge, right near downtown Napa, and the owner offered to let us stay in a room for a night (for free). This was awesome because the location was convenient and we didn’t have to pay for lodging, and would you just take a look at how beautiful the inside of our room was?

Kiran, the owner, is an artist and hand-painted it herself. Of course, there was just one king-sized bed and three of us, and while we could have squeezed onto it, Diana took one for the team and slept on the ground (such a trouper!). After all that eating and drinking and, most tiresome, ceaseless chatting, that bed was calling my name.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend with more fun, like-minded friends. I’m ready for round two when they are.

COMMENTS
  • August 9, 2011

    Nice to visit with friends before leaving the SF area. Looks like a good time.

  • August 9, 2011
    Ris

    That Eggs Benedict looks amazing! But Bloody Mary with bacon? Um….

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m not even a bacon fan, but that was something I NEEDED to try.

  • August 9, 2011

    Holy moly, that all looks amazing!

  • August 9, 2011

    Now that’s my kind of weekend! It all looks lusciously scrumptious, and I have weekend envy. In a good way!

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      And now I’m still fasting to counteract the effects of all that food!

  • August 9, 2011

    Aww!!! Wish we were back there right now! Such a fun time. Kristin, I’m so glad we finally got to meet in person πŸ™‚

  • August 9, 2011

    We have not been to Napa. Major travel #fail on our part.

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      Well, it’s easy enough from Seattle. If you ever sit still long enough to need a weekend getaway from the rain and gloom, it will still be there, I imagine =)

  • August 9, 2011

    And, PS, I’m ready for Girlie Weekend Part Two. Nashville? Or should we plan something else like Charleston?

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      Nashville, Charleston, Savannah, Vegas–I’m down for any locale with good food, wine and you guys, of course =)

  • August 9, 2011

    Diana, I love the south and would love Nashville or Charleston — how fun!! Amazing weekend in Napa. Nothing beats your food shots, Kristin. You’re such an amazing photographer. Haha we HAVE come a long way!!!!

    • August 10, 2011
      Kristin

      I’ll come see you guys in the winter in Vegas, then we can plan a Southern weekend for the spring–this time when you don’t have so much on your plate! =)

  • August 9, 2011

    How fun! Fabulous hot blogger ladies take over Napa. That room is just gorgeous and I’m jealous of the food!

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      You should plan a “work trip” out for the next one so you can join us =)

  • August 9, 2011

    Looks like a great time. I like your food photos. We were in Napa last Christmas and loved it. The Wine Country is probably the the thing we miss the most about living in San Francisco.

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      The first year I was in San Francisco, I was in Napa every other week for some work event or another. But sadly, this past visit was my first time there in about 20 months, and now I’m wondering why I didn’t go up more often when it was nearby.

      • August 9, 2011

        Actually, we preferred Sonoma over Napa – must quieter and more relaxing, but when you want to go fancy, definitely go Napa.

        • August 9, 2011
          Kristin

          Oh, I prefer Sonoma, too. Not nearly as much traffic/people! But I find that people generally say “Napa” when meaning “Wine Country” as a whole, so I’ve started following suit =)

  • August 9, 2011
    Meghna

    So good running into you! I’m so sad you’re no longer in SF, but it sound like it was the right decision for you – if my entire family didn’t live hereI I don’t know that I would stay either…

    Good luck on your travels (can’t wait to see the posts on India!) and hopefully we’ll run into each other again at some point somewhere!

    • August 10, 2011
      Kristin

      Thanks, Meghna! Maybe we’ll run into each other somewhere else in the world (or in SF when I’m back visiting)!

  • August 9, 2011

    Seems like you had a very nice girls weekend! πŸ™‚

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      You were talked about on the girls weekend! So you were there in spirit (even though we’ve never met…but Diana and Abby and my pal Stef always have such glowing things to say about you!) =)

      • August 10, 2011

        That’s unfair! Next time I wanna be there as well. But I guess that’s not allowed as a boy on a girls weekend, right? πŸ˜‰

        • August 10, 2011
          Kristin

          We can slap a wig on you and pretend!

  • August 9, 2011

    What a great weekend – I’m jealous!

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      We wish you’d been there with us!

  • August 9, 2011

    Aw, what a fantastic time. I love picking up and going to things, and am usually that way, but lately have been opting to spend more time just chilling with the family, since I can be on the go so much!

    • August 10, 2011
      Kristin

      I need to learn from you =) I feel like I’m on the go just a wee bit too much!

      • August 10, 2011

        I’ve had to learn from girlfriends, as well. My Mom gave me the key to being okay with it in my soul, though. When Brando tried to make frantic last minute trips to Yosemite so I would feel like we did something on our latest trip, she said to tell Brando, in a fun loving manner of course so he knows where I’m coming from, “I planned to do nothing. Are you trying to ruin my plans?” Worked like a charm for him to be content knowing I would be as well following my “plan” πŸ˜‰ .

  • August 9, 2011

    This looks like one epic trip! I’m picking up Meg in Atlanta this week and we’re headed to my fam’s vacay home in the App Mountains. LOVE girly bonding time!

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      *waving to you two from the other side of the Apps*

      Now that I’m at least in the same geographical region, maybe WE will be able to have our own meet-up at some point next year =)

  • August 9, 2011

    You’re trying to make me miss California already, aren’t you? πŸ˜‰ So much good food, so much great wine, and so many gorgeous places to stay. We had a great time with the dogs, too. There are a lot of pet friendly wineries where you can have a tasting with your pooch! However, I recommend NOT sharing the wine with Ella – someone has to drive. πŸ˜€

    • August 9, 2011
      Kristin

      How did I live in California four years and not know this? Though Ella’s partial to beer; not sure she could fully appreciate a varietal…

      • August 10, 2011

        Apparently, our little dog has gotten drunk off my leftover bedside glass of wine (hey, at least there were leftovers if I’m going to have a bedside glass). I would have to agree with Amy about not sharing. I no longer leave glasses of wine by my bed, either.

  • August 9, 2011
    Briel K.

    Hold the phone! I was just in Napa Valley on Saturday July 30 for a bachelorette day! We also went to Domaine Chandon and Gott’s Roadside (and in between to Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen for lunch and the Health Spa Napa Valley). When were you there? It was my first time to a Napa Winery (great champagne! I don’t usually really like champagne but of course theirs was really good) and I had my first massage and facial too. It was a great day. Pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150340504940350.399207.541015349&l=c21fa70e84&type=1 πŸ™‚

    • August 10, 2011
      Kristin

      Two weekends before! We were moving the weekend you were doing your Napa thang πŸ˜‰

  • August 10, 2011

    It sounds like an amazingly sexy and gluttonous weekend. <3 I'm jealous, I'm not going to lie. I've never been to Napa but I definitely would love to make a girls weekend of it.

    • August 10, 2011
      Kristin

      We should take the Stumble group on location!

  • August 10, 2011

    Was there ever a better thing created than the marvelousness that is brunch? I mean really. Decadent breakfast food AND booze? It just doesn’t get any better than that.

    • August 10, 2011
      Kristin

      I could–and would–probably be 20 pounds lighter if brunch had never been invented. But you know, if brunch is wrong, I don’t wanna be right…

  • August 10, 2011

    Kristin – i hope you ordered the donuts @ boonfly!! they’re so great!!

    • August 14, 2011
      Kristin

      NO! I didn’t! =( I had no idea that’s what they were known for…but all the more reason to go back, huh?

  • August 10, 2011

    Wow, I’m so envious… all of that food looks amazing and so does wine country. And lemon cookie ice cream? Score!

  • August 10, 2011

    Ugh…. I’m back in “man land” as I call anywhere where I’m working in the dive industry and the idea of a girlfriend getaway sounds like heaven right now! Very jealous! I’m off to watch sex and the city to try to get some girl time in.

    • August 14, 2011
      Kristin

      I can’t even imagine! You must hear a lot of fart jokes, ha =)

  • August 11, 2011

    You are a girl after my own heart…I LOVE Chandon bubbly. Love love LOVE! So jealous you got to go do a tasting!!!!!

    This whole weekend looks like girly perfection. Beautiful foodie get aways and a perfectly relaxing hotel!

    • August 14, 2011
      Kristin

      Well, this will make our inevitable meetup even more fun! We won’t have to argue what bottle(s) to order over dinner =)

  • August 13, 2011

    FUN X 100! So happy you 3 ladies had this special time together, though I do wish I could have been there!!! <3

    • August 14, 2011
      Kristin

      There will be plenty of other opportunities for girl trips =)

  • August 14, 2011

    You get to hang out with them AND bacon bloody marys?? I am so jealous.

    • August 14, 2011
      Kristin

      Ahhhh, I didn’t even put the bacon connection together! We totally should have toasted to you. Also, move back to North America and join us for the next weekend escape! =)

  • August 14, 2011

    I think that cupcake just winked at me… πŸ™‚

  • August 15, 2011

    You guys have inspired me to make a girls night with my ladies when I get back into town. I’m not sure I can compete with all this fabulousness though.

  • August 17, 2011

    Looks blissful, absolutely blissful!

  • August 17, 2011

    What a fun girls weekend!

    I have a friend who loves bloody marys and bacon, so I will have to tell her it is now socially acceptable to combine the two. (And no, it is not Ayngelina.)

  • August 17, 2011

    Oh my gosh, all of the food in this post looks delicious. Even that bloody mary with the bacon in it! How was that, anyway?

    ~Sara

  • August 18, 2011

    this is one of those posts that truly make me want to go NOW. Excellent work on seizing the day together… Lovely photos and story and I want to go to the Chardonnay Inn!

  • August 30, 2011

    Hi there. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed this blog post and am featuring it on http://www.todaystreat.com. Keep up the great work (and I’ll use your Napa guide next weekend). Thanks!

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