This evening, while enjoying a cocktail to kick off the weekend (TGIFF…you can leave the additional F to your imagination, or not) I kept finding my mind wandering to thoughts of a special place. A place Mike and I love so very, very much and where we feel like some of the most complete versions of ourselves. That place is the heaven that is Northern California.
Wine to us is not just something to enjoy with friends or with a great meal (although it is simply perfect for that too) – it is an art, a science and an experience.
Here is a quick list of the Top 10 things that I have been dreaming about today – not all wine, and in no particular order.
#1 Frog’s Leap Winery Frog’s Leap has been one of our very favorite places for the last couple years, and we are never disappointed when we visit for a tasting. I highly recommend booking a porch tasting the next time you are in Rutherford. Enjoy the amazing sunshine, the delicious cheese and of course the wine. Frog’s Leap is one of the few Napa Valley tasting rooms that does a side by side tasting (meaning they pour you all whites and reds together so you can easily compare). This is my favorite way to taste, so I love it. We are wine club members here, and I look so forward to each quarterly shipment.
#2 Hotel Yountville We stayed here for an anniversary trip and it was most definitely one of the nicest places I have ever vacationed. It is in an amazing location (if you have ever had the pleasure to experience Yountville, you will know what I mean) with great access to all of wine country. The rooms are impeccable, the pool is fabulous and they just make you feel more pampered than you ever expect.
#3 Ad Hoc My favorite restaurant in the Napa Valley. This is a Thomas Keller experience that was only supposed to be temporary, but it has remained because it is so very loved. I am sure French Laundry is amazing and I know for sure Bouchon is delectable (we have enjoyed the restaurant and bakery) but the casual, yet sophisticated vibe of Ad Hoc keeps it number one on my list. Keep in mind that the set menu changes every day, and you don’t know what it will be until the day-of … luckily there is almost nothing I will not eat!
#4 Oakville Grocery This is a perfect little spot along St. Helena Highway to stop for Breakfast, Lunch or just a coffee while you are out and about. It is high end but also just like a regular deli – exactly what those of us from the east coast will be looking for! It is also just down the road from Opus One. Go there and share a glass – may seem insane, but worth it….trust me.
#5 Caymus Vineyards We have been here a couple times and the Wagner family never ceases to impress. Mike and I are huge fans of bold cabs, spicy zinfandels and merlots with depth – and Caymus delivers on all fronts. They are luxury for sure, but are well worth a stop for a tasting (we usually share a tasting everywhere we go – and it works out great!).
#6 Buffalo Shipping Because we love wine so very much, we are known to buy a bottle (or more) if we love it when we visit a winery. You cannot carry liquids on a plane, and because I always have way more wine then would fit in a checked bag (but who wants to risk it breaking?? not me.) we use Buffalo Shipping. On our way back to San Fran to catch our flight to NY we always stop at the Buffalo Shipping location in Napa with all of our purchases. They pack it up right there with you and it has always arrived at home within a week of our trip in perfect condition. They are great, don’t risk the wine!
#7 V Wine Cellar This place is a cool little wine shop and tasting room right in central Yountville. We have been here a couple times before a dinner reservation for a glass of sparkling wine or white (as we are predominantly red drinkers). It has a great little outside space to sit in while you have a glass. The last time we were there Vince Vaughn was sitting near us having a few drinks and smoking cigars with a bachelor party…I am so cool (not). Mike’s favorite movie of all time is Wedding Crashers, so he was loving it 🙂
#8 Ledson Vineyards This is probably our favorite vineyard in Sonoma County. We typically like fuller cabernets that are more typical to Napa – but this is a standout. The building is gorgeous, with a great little shop where you can buy wine and other gourmet treats. A great stop if you are in the area.
#9 Bodega Bay If you have the time, a ride out to the beaches of northern California are worth it. Foggy and majestic, Bodega Bay is a place I still think about to calm my mind. The true definition of NorCal cool – a place I will find myself again someday.
#10 Stag’s Leap Winery – Both here and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars are amazing, but totally different. This place is full of history, charm and unbelievable wine. I still have quite a few very special selections from Stag’s Leap in my wine fridge. I am not one for guided tours – but the tour and tasting given here is top notch. It is intimate and interesting….also, full of amazing wine along the way. Make it happen.
There are so many more places I could mention, but we will leave those for another time.
I hope I have have left you too, California Dreaming.