A Mini Vacation - Napa Valley 2016

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend Jenn and I took a short three day vacation to Sonoma County in California. We had booked the trip during the holidays using some free nights we had accumulated with Hyatt. This past Friday we got home from work, finished packing our suitcase, and made our way out the door and on to a three day getaway. 

We took an Uber from our apartment to the airport. It only cost $5 for the ride. A lot cheaper then leaving our car there for the three day weekend. We got through security with no problems and waited to board our one hour flight up to SFO (San Francisco International Airport). Our flight was delayed a half hour which gave us just enough time to grab a terrible dinner at Ruby's. I'm not sure if Ruby's has gone downhill or the one in the airport just was terrible. Either way I don't think I'll be going to a Ruby's anytime soon. 

We boarded our flight (we were group A) and got two seats around ten rows deep on the plane. Once we made it up to San Francisco we went to get our bags which was the first off the plane and then off to the rental car area. Jenn was just up at SFO a couple months prior for a conference at Facebook so she knew exactly where to go. We went to the Enterprise booth got our reservation and picked up our car. We had gotten the cheapest car available a Kia Rio and they upgraded us to a Dodge Charger. A nice little perk. 

We drove the sixty mile drive from the airport to our hotel the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa. The drive was a breeze outside of a couple strong downpours, and we even got to go over the Golden Gate bridge. We got to our hotel a little after 10PM and after shooting a room tour we hit the sack and got ready for two full days of wine tasting. 

Our first morning in Santa Rosa we woke up and laid around our room for a while. I went and worked out at the gym which was basically a closet with a couple treadmills. We left the hotel a little after 10AM and went to a nearby restaurant called The Spinster Sisters. The restaurant is in an incredibly odd location but had great breakfast. Jenn got an egg scramble which had mushrooms and butternut squash while I had their eggs benedict. Both were phenomenal. If we ever go back to the area again we will absolutely stop their and have breakfast.

After breakfast we were off to Napa and to a couple of wineries that we had researched before heading out on this trip. The first stop we made was at Artesa Vineyards. Here we split the five wine tastings. We tried four of their reds and one white. Sadly this would end up being our least favorite winery that we tried on our weekend. None of the wines really hit any memorable marks. Jenns favorite was the Pinot Noir and mine was the Cab, although we never even thought of buying any. I will say though that the winery itself was stunning. It was a great place to have a seat get a glass of wine and relax. They had plenty of seating and some indredible artwork displayed throughout. 

After we polished off our five glasses of wine we made our way to the winery I think we both were most excited for Stags Leap. If you don't know you will within minutes of entering the winery, this winery is supposed to be a big deal. They have won countless awards and flaunt it quite a bit. They do accept walk-ins for tastings but we had to wait around fifteen minutes before being escorted to the bar. We ended up sharing the "Estate Collection" which among four other wines let us try the $200 award winning bottle of wine. Quite frankly I'm not sure if either of us noticed the difference between their budget priced $125 bottle or their $200. Needless to say they were some great wines. It was such a gorgeous tasting room overlooking the vineyards. Our tasting guide was nice enough to recommend us a place down the street and gave us her card to get a "buy one get one" deal. 

We made our way down the highway for less then ten minutes and made our last winery stop of the day at the Conn Creek Winery. This was far and away the best wine we had all day. Granted it was also our third stop so at this point we were feeling pretty good. With our "buy one get one free" deal we both got to try all four of their varieties of wine. The stand out was the anthology which was a Cabernet Sauvignon. A real crisp full bodied wine that was extremely smooth. We also loved their Cabernet Franc. This was a very small intimate winery and for most of the time there we were the only two people in there. We enjoyed every second of it. 

At this point we both were done with wine and desperately wanting some food. I found a place on Yelp called Redd Wood that we drove to. It was only ten minutes from our last winery. I dropped Jenn off at the front and I grabbed a parking spot. When I sat down we both realized that it was primarily a pizza place and we both wanted something more . So we snuck out and went next door to R&D Kitchen. We loved going for happy hour at the R&D Kitchen in Fashion Island and were happy to go into its warm embrace in Yountville. We started out with their dip duo which had chips guacamole and a queso dip. It was exactly what we needed after a day of wine. Jenn got their spaghetti for her meal and I had their burger. Both were the hearty meal we were looking for. 

We drove back to our hotel after our late lunch or early dinner and called it a night. We watched two movies to close out the night, Pitch Perfect and The Social Network. 

Sunday morning was almost an exact replica of Saturday morning although we laid around for a little bit longer. I went out for a run early Sunday morning and came back and watched the beginning of the Divisional Playoff game between the Seahawks and the Panthers. We left when it was 31-0 at half time. We took a different route to Napa and it was quite the drive. Unlike Saturday which had light rain, Sunday had a steady flow the entire day. It's the type of rainy day that we get once maybe twice a year in Southern California. Our drive had us weaving through the mountains of Sonoma County. Jenn wanted to drive and she did a brilliant job driving through some narrow one lane roads. We even saw some deer crossing the road at one point during the drive. 

Our first stop in Napa today was the Robert Mondavi Winery which is one of the highest rated wineries in Napa and we saw why. After running into the winery to avoid the downpour of rain we made our way to the tasting area where we decided to go with their upgraded wine package. This package allowed us to try one white (a sauvignon blanc) and three reds (pinot noir and two cabs). All four were absolutely incredible. I don't think there was a bad one in the lot. We got our own table and spent over an hour just enjoying the scenery and watching the rain come down. Jenn even spent some extended time in the gift shop finding a ton of items she wants for the house. 

Our last wine stop of the day was at the Chandon. The grounds at Chandon were some of the best we saw on our trip. I didn't realize when we were making our way that this was to taste sparking wine (perfect for a Sunday morning). We did one of their higher tier tastings and enjoyed some Brut and Rose. It was such a nice celebratory way to conclude five different wineries. 

We left Napa and made our way back to Santa Rosa and decided on our drive home to go see a movie at the Roxy Theater near our hotel. We decided to go see The Big Short to begin getting ready for the Oscars in February. And although a full review is coming soon we both loved the movie. We left the theater and went to a Chipotle down the street before making our way back to the hotel. We noticed on the way back to our hotel the latest Democrat debate was going on so we got back to our hotel and watched the second half of the debate before falling asleep to the first day of the Australian Open. 

Monday morning brought the end of our mini wine trip. We woke up early, I went for a run and we left the hotel at 8 AM. We drove back to SFO and stopped off at Millbrae Pancake House. as we were driving back we saw that this place got incredible reviews. What we didn't know was it was across the street from a Ramada we stayed at a couple of years ago when Jenn went to a conference at Stanford. Jenn got crepes and I got eggs hashbrowns and biscuits and gravy. It was an incredible breakfast and got us ready for our flight home. We dropped off the car and got on our plane to go back home. It was an absolutely incredible mini getaway. We don't take short vacations very often but this just reminds me that big or small there's nothing better then taking a vacation with Jenn.