Thursday, May 19, 2016

What We Did in Wine Country (California): Part 2

Haven't read part 1 yet? Make sure to catch up! 



April 24, 2016

We left early for 10 am brunch reservations at Cliff House and got to explore – VERY WINDY. Brunch was at a beautiful table by the window with views of the rocks jutting out of the ocean. The champagne poured freely! The buffet was a mix of breakfast foods and lots of salads. The popovers were a specialty and the dessert bar was impressive. For Richard and I, an entire bowl of roasted garlic beside the scalloped potatoes was pretty amazing. Another specialty was Eggs Benedict. The harpist was not a specialty and played 2 songs twice in a 30 minute set (As Time Goes By and Somewhere in Time – clearly time was an issue for her).

Cliff House

After brunch, we tried to walk on the beach, but it was really chilly and so windy that our faces got burned from sand and wind. We did find a little sea glass and a sand dollar! We then drove to Golden Gate Park where we saw the bison field and drove around forever trying to park. I would have picked another day besides a gorgeous Sunday to be there if we had more time. All exhibits came with a price tag, so we picked the Botanical Gardens, which were huge and lovely. I thought the roses there were impressive until we got to Napa!! Beautiful; we walked through areas of vegetation representing different areas of the world. (We noticed sprinklers in Ancient Gardens were aimed improperly. Also, they had lots of Horsetail.)

We left to go to the old Beach Chalet (designed 1929 as a hotel) to have a drink and shared some clam chowder (we were too full to eat). Richard got a flight of their home-brewed beers. We then drove back to the hotel past the old windmills. Back in the hotel ,we all had to shower off sand quickly and then went to claim our pre-dinner wine. Dinner was at Fino’s – we were too tired to move. I had Salmon with pesto asparagus and house made rigatoni, Sammy had a pizza and Richard had pasta with Italian sausages. We shared a bottle of wine and a salad of arugula with Gorgonzola and pears. San Francisco was great!


April 25, 2016


Richard and I 

We checked out at 9 – a little later than I had planned - to avoid traffic and made a small side trip to the house used for the set of The Room so Richard could have a photo op. Crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (a route we chose for the views) and started the weirdest route to Napa until Richard and I changed phones and we realized his had gone crazy. Started seeing vineyards and finally made a first stop at Domain Carneros for a sparkling wine tasting and cheese pairing. What a gorgeous setting looking across the valley! The view took my breath away and the roses…. 

Sparkling Wine Sampler: 2011 Estate Brut Cuvée, 2012 Blanc de Noir, 2012 Brut Rosé, 2011 Verméil Demi-Sec.



Our wine steward gave us a few extra pours because they weren’t busy – one he called the crème brulee of champagne. The cheeses were: Holey Cow: Central Coast Creamery, Paso Robles, Mt. Tam, Tamales Bay, and Essex Street Co. The Netherlands.
We traveled up the road to Cakebread and barely slid into a tour/tasting with a hilarious guy who kept us thoroughly entertained. 

 Wines were: 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, 2013 Chardonnay, Napa, Chardonnay Reserve, Caneros, 2013 Pinot Noir Annahala Ranch, 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 2012 Syrah Napa. 

Our next stop was a quick picnic at Oakville Mkt, which seems to be in the process of a rebuild. Richard and I shared a fried chicken sandwich and ginger ale, which was full of pieces of fresh ginger. On the recommendation of the nice guy at Cakebread, we went to a charming and tiny boutique winery called Elizabeth Spencer. We sat outside in a little courtyard and the four tastings we signed up for turned into many more. 

I know we had 2015 Rose of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2014 Grenache, Mendocino, 2013 ES Pinot Noir, Sonoma Block 7, 2012 Merlot Knight’s Valley, and 2 different Cabernet Sauvignons (2012) from Napa and one from Mt. Veeder. It was a lovely was to spend the afternoon. It was probably one of my favorite places. They ship so little wine; I’d have to find someone to order it. The name is a husband and wife team. We recommended it to several people we saw again who loved it! 

From there we traveled to the Spanish Villa Inn, off the beaten track. Our rooms were great – big comfy beds and Roy the proprietor was very friendly – and also spoke 7 languages. No room TVs – kind of relaxing after the noise of San Francisco. We sat outside with drinks and played Bacci Ball. More later! 

Dinner was at the Farmstead – which is a beautiful working farm. Richard and I shared a grilled artichoke and I had Dungeness crab whole and wood fired in chili lime butter. Perfect. Sammy and Richard couldn’t resist the cheeseburgers. We shared cheddar biscuits with honey butter, which came highly recommended.

The waiter brought us a beautiful dessert to share – chocolate cream pie!


April 26, 2016
We were charmed by how comfortable the Spanish Villa Inn was, and how quiet. Roy set gorgeous breakfast tables with china and linen napkins – beautiful silverware. Breakfast was coffee, tea, guava juice, several kinds of bagels and English muffins with butter, cream cheese and jam. There was also fresh cut fruit and brown eggs warm and hard-boiled. He kept asking if we wanted anything else, but it was perfect every morning.

Errands first- cold medicine and phone wires. We toured Beringer, but just to see it – no tasting. Also walked around the Culinary Institute. Very nice. We started our tasting day at Joseph Phelps which was just beautiful, maybe our prettiest tasting - definitely the most expensive. We sat on a huge porch overlooking the grounds. We shared 2 tastings. The guide was so informative and just sat with us the whole time chatting.



We discussed the ice wines in Canada and he showed us one small portion of a dog bone shaped field that was reserved for ice wine and gave us an extra tasting for all 3 (Like we had in Canada). We also enjoyed tasting the estate's newest olive oil. 

Wines tasted were 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, St Helena, 2014 Viognier, Napa, 2012 Pinot Noir, Pastrole Vineyard, 2012 Pinot Noir, Quarter Moon Vineyard, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 2012 Insignia, 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Backus Vineyard. That lasted for well over an hour and a half so the next stop was lunch at Gott’s Roadside Stand. It had huge picnic tables to share. We ate with a priest from Nevada and an older lady actually from Napa. She gave us her family winery card from Tedeschi. 

Of course we had cheeseburgers – what else!!! Wish we had the time to go to Tedeschi in Healdsburg. Our tasting was at Frog Pond, but with a little extra time we went to Round Pond to see the olive oils – as warned – not very friendly – but they did let us taste one. Our guide at Frog’s Leap was very sweet but not terribly well informed. We had a fun group but didn’t learn a thing. Well, I explained what some of the plants were since the guide was unsure of everything but grapes and strawberries. It is a small working farm, with a beautiful barn.

Tastings were poured while we walked, 2014 Chardonnay Frog’s Napa, 2014 Zinfandel, Napa, Frog’s Leap Merlot Rutherford, and 2013 Frog’s Leap Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon.

Got Richard a hat that says: “Times fun when you’re having flies.”

We came back and visited with Roy before dinner. He “entertained” in a large den and loved to talk and tell great stories.

Dinner at Rutherford Grill was at his suggestion. Prime rib sandwiches all the way around. I had the famous mashed potatoes, which were really potatoes with lots of green onion. Hmm. We had a long wait, but no corking fee, so we just enjoyed the wine we brought with us on the porch. Great roasted artichokes!

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Keep an eye out for part 3 soon!


1 comment:

Storybook Apothecary said...

what a fun time! looks like a blast! Having brunch at the Cliff House sounds so cool!

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