Friday, September 16, 2016

Napa - Friday - 9/16/16

Nooooooo (insert really sad face)....It can't ALREADY be our last day in this heavenly land called Napa? Boo

Even though I was sad the trip was coming to an end, I was in such a good mood because I knew our last day would be an amazing time.

Today's breakfast - I purchased the Bouchon Bakery cookbook and it is AMAZING. 

Accompanied with a hot cup of coffee on our porch, I savored every bite of my macaroons before venturing inside to wake sleepy Eric. We had a 3-course lunch pairing scheduled at noon at the Franciscan Estate, but wanted to leave early and take full advantage of the day. The town of St. Helena was on the way, so we decided to stop there first to walk around and shop.

The main strip in St Helena, which was a very cute little town

I made my first purchase at this super cute shop

Bought a few items for home and entertaining here too...

Walking the streets of St Helena...

I bought a lot of delicious goodies here! 

I bought more fun stuff for entertaining here

Needless to say, I had a successful shopping trip! It was nice to bring home some unique items I can't get in Boston.  We finished up a little earlier than expected, so we proceeded down the highway toward Franciscan, but decided to stop and check out Hall Winery first. Link here: Hall Wines Website

I was particularly interested in Hall Winery because I heard all their vineyards have been certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). In 2009, they became the first winery in California to be distinguished as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®). Both these accolades are super impressive and quite unusual because it's so expensive!

One other relevant fact to mention is that the owners are avid art collectors. You'll notice a few of their extravagant pieces in my pictures below.

Sign at the entrance

This photo was taken in the vineyard right next to the parking lot

Check out the 35 ft tall rabbit sculpture behind me, named "Bunny Foo Foo"

Another cool sculpture

I was immediately drawn to this piece the second I walked in! It's called "Garden Plot"


I LOVE all the colors, this was really cool

We took a walk around Hall's stellar outdoor grounds, and came across this stunning fountain named "Reflection of Life"

Stunning! Gorgeous! Beautiful! I can't get enough!

Inside the winery, there are several rooms available to host private tastings

The large public tasting room. The bar wasn't that busy. All these people had just returned from a tour and were meandering

We didn't have much time, so we decided to split a tasting. Our host was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic

The art on the bottles is so pretty

The tasting area has a huge outdoor deck if you'd rather be outside, and this was the view

View of the grounds

Someone offered to take our picture again! The art on the wall behind us is called "Painting Air." Fun fact - The artist sourced the colors for the wall painting by sampling the natural environment around the winery.

Bye bye Hall Winery! I wish we could have stayed longer, but we will be back!

Hello Franciscan Estate!

Very nice outdoor seating. By the time we left this patio was packed with people.

We made it to Franciscan right on time. After checking in, we were immediately served a taste of their rose, and it was good. Only two other people were joining us and when they arrived, we began the tour.

Old bottles in the wine library

The Magnificat collection

They make a lot of wine here

Wow, I've never seen barrels stacked so high!

The grounds were perfectly manicured

I took a lot of photos during the tour


This is the iconic Rutherford bench, but I do not remember the story behind it

The other 2 people didn't take a single photo during the tour

Our private room for our lunch pairing

Very nice

I appreciate the floral

Naturally - the food was excellent

Lunch was really fun. The other two people who joined us were together, but we were unsure about whether or not they were a couple. The man was all-American and in his 40's with a very calm, quiet demeanor. The lady was much much older, like upper 70's older, with white hair and a lot of wrinkles. As lunch proceeded, I continued to drink and became more and more confused about their situation... Finally, I asked "How do the two of you know each other?"  According to Eric, this was AWKWARD! Haha! If that was the case, I did not notice! 

The lady paused, and explained that they met at a university years ago. I think she was a professor and he was a student, something along those lines. She then asked how Eric and I know each other. Ummm, really? Did you NOT see my ring?  Oh that's right, she's old and probably can't see. We explained how we met and that we were married.

Things got weirder as our conversation went on, and we learned that they LIVED TOGETHER. They kept saying things like, "Oh WE make lamb all the time." And, "Oh, I bought the wine last time, you should get it this time." There was definitely a 30 year age gap here. She was a grandma, and he looked like a young guy. It was so bizarre, but... YOU GO GRANNY!

Crisp white retails for $23. I would buy this for sure

First course paired with the white wine

2008 Stylus - Our group went through 2 bottles of this. Eric said it was the best wine we had on the entire trip

Excellent lamb loin! I gave Eric the mushrooms, yuck

I could have used 2 servings of this! Notice the fancy plate :)

Homemade treats to take home

After eating, the chef came out to introduce himself and ask how we liked the courses. We kept that poor guy hostage for at least ten minutes, asking him a million questions about the food. The group unanimously agreed it was Top Chef quality and we thanked him for the delicious meal.

Shortly after, we all dispersed and Eric and I headed to the terrace to enjoy the last of our wine. While chatting about our day, the "couple" appeared out of nowhere to tell us how wonderful it was to meet us and that they had an amazing time.  That was nice! Things were a little fuzzy at that point, but I remember they were standing awfully close to each other and seemed to be giggling and canoodling together. So funny!

We didn't buy any wine and took off shortly after.

Eric and his second love (the iPad) while I slept off the wine

My signature sleep after wine-tasting

The rest of the day was a blur. We went to eat again at Sol Bar, and then relaxed before packing and going to bed. 

All in all, I am SO HAPPY we went to Napa and didn't listen to the naysayers who advised Sonoma instead. Eric and I learned a great deal about the wines produced in this region and are now completely obsessed! Don't get me wrong, we still LOVE Italian and French wines, but now we have a whole new appreciation for Napa. 

I can't wait to go back!

The next morning, we left the resort around 7am for our flight. Below are photos I took while driving through the valley on the way to SFO.