Wednesday, December 19, 2018

48 Hours in Napa

Trip date: Nov 2017

It was snowing in Seattle, so Gail and I were doubly happy to be heading to the Napa Valley to meet up with our friend Rachel who was visiting from Australia.

The only problem was that the snow delayed our Alaska Air flight and we had dinner reservations to make! Ultimately our flight was cancelled, but we were quick and booked the last two seats on a flight to Sacramento. We reserved a rental car and as soon as we landed, hit the road for the 2-hour drive to Calistoga. We'd done this drive before!

We were suppose to get in at 6pm, but we finally rolled up at 11:30pm. Rachel had been waiting in the bar as they told her they'd stay open as long as there were people there. Trooper as she had flown in from Sydney earlier! We were staying at the very lovely Solage Resort and retired to our cute bungalow after a couple of drinks.

The next morning the three of us set out on the small roads behind the Silverado Trail for a gorgeous walk! The vineyards were just starting to turn color, and the clouds were slowly lifting out of the valley. So pretty!!!
We headed back to the resort for a very good breakfast in the restaurant before heading out for the day. Since Rachel had a rental car already, we quickly dropped ours at the office in St. Helena, and headed to our first wine tasting of the day at Paradigm.
The last time I had been to this winery was in 2005, on my first trip to Napa for Rachel's wedding! So fun to be back, this time with her, and shopping for some bottles for her husband. Also the day could not have been more beautiful as we sat outside and tasted rosé, Cab Franc, and Cabs.

Next was Turnbull which had been recommended to us. The setting and the gardens were gorgeous and we had a great time here. I don't think any of us bought any wine however. And there were a lot of people!
We had spa appointments back at the resort so we just tasted at those two. In our bungalow we popped some champagne, donned our fluffy robes, and headed to the women's only clothing optional outdoor jacuzzi.
I had a fantastic massage, and then a nice hot soak in the pool. All of the spaces at the resort are really well kept. I loved staying here!

We called an Uber and headed to The Charter Oak for dinner that night. The space is typical for the area I think, very large and open, lots of faux-country antiques done in a hip style. I thought the food was very good but the girls were put off by our service which was a bit snooty.

The next morning was another gorgeous fall day! We headed out for a morning walk, no clouds at all this time, just beautiful blue skies!

We had another great breakfast in the dining room before packing and checking out. It was at this point we found that we had left the lights on the rental car. The day before! oops! We couldn't even get the trunk or the door to open!

The staff was super helpful, looking at YouTube to figure out where the manual key entry was and then jump starting us. When we stopped at Brian Arden for a tasting we had to leave the car running in the parking lot so it would fully charge!!!

This was another lovely spot, with stunning views and adirondack chairs set up on the lawn. The wine was good, especially the whites, but not a must-taste IMHO.

Our final tasting was by far my favorite. Friends had recommended Failla, which is by-appointment only, and in an adorable old house up in the hills. 
We tasted through the Chardonnays and the Pinot Noirs and I was so impressed! There was another man who was tasting with us and as he and I started discussing our cellars (wine geeks) the woman helping us brought us an extra taste from their library collection. Great service and exceptional wines, I left with a few! Highly recommend Failla!

It was time for lunch and we were all excited for Gott's in St. Helena, such a great tradition while in the area. We had a little BYOB with our lunch, not encouraged by Gott's!

California had been riddled with forest fires just weeks before we arrived, and my friends who own Lawer Estates vineyards, orchards, and vacation rentals in Calistoga had been affected as the Tubb's fire consumed most of their properties.

On the way to the airport we drove the Franz Valley School Road, where I had stayed with my wine group in January the year before. The log cabin we had all been cozy in was now reduced to nothing but ashes. It was an incredibly sad sight. The entire drive from the valley, over the hill, and into Santa Rosa, past so much destruction, the land just char, the air still smelling like fire, was surreal.

It definitely made me thankful for the time I have been lucky enough to spend with friends in this area, including the two girls I was wrapping up the trip with.
We had an easy flight back to Seattle, with our complimentary cases of checked wine (thanks Alaska Air!), and returned to snow!

All Napa photos here.

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