Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to enjoy creation. -paraphrase from a ‘christian brother’ at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone
This is not a post of “Best Places to Go in Napa Valley”. We spent just short of 5 days in the Napa/San Francisco region and I would like to highlight what were some of our very favorite stops. We enjoyed incredible food and drink along the way, which was expected. And thanks to my husband, we had a very slow schedule, allowed for spontaneous stops, and generally didn’t let ourselves be in a hurry. A small exception was made for when we were almost late for our mountain top tasting because it’s not socially acceptable to be late for an appointment at a winery that has your credit card. And it’s a mountain top. Come on.
We made our way up to Napa Valley to check in to our adorable bed and breakfast. I mentioned this on Instagram and had some mixed reviews on your all’s opinions on them, we love them! Breakfast included? Unique rooms? Sleeping in someone else’s house? That part is a little strange but we get over it quickly. Our innkeeper (another bonus is you get to refer to your innkeeper) greeted us with warm chocolate chip cookies, and we were off to our first adventure in wine country!
We traveled the Silverado trail (parallel to the Napa Valley) to find the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Greystone, to which I started doubting all I was doing in the world and wondered if I should move there and enroll in classes. I quickly shook the thought away. Nervous laughter. It was beautiful! And there were all of these students walking around in chef coats–picture a Hogwarts with whisks instead of wands. We marveled at the cooks books, the building itself, the “classrooms” of commercial kitchens and demonstration theaters. Joey ordered deep fried artichokes and corn chowder, while I ordered truffles and an espresso (sometimes we even eat in different languages, that guy and I). It was beautiful and I only have one qualm with it. Their big marketing campaign was “Food is life.” When the world says ‘Food is life’, I’m thankful we have Jesus who asks ‘Is not life more than food?’ Which is why I love this space on the internet where I can urge you to believe that while food is good, God is greater.
‘Is not life more than food?’ I sure hope so.
Then we headed to Pride winery for our scheduled tasting. This is quite a drive up the valley but well worth it. Joey and I learned here the value of someone under-promising and over-delivering. We were taken on a full cave tour, reserve tastings, spectacular views, wine education, and of course delicious vino. Did you know grapes grown for wine are farmed using a technique called dry farming? A lot of wineries don’t water their grapes at all or if there is a drought they only water 1 gallon per vine per week? I had no idea but it sure makes this non-hydrating drink taste good.
That night we took suggestions from friends and had our weekly date night at The Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. If you know me you would think this place had Katie written all over it. I mean I don’t grow my own food, have a green thumb, or live near a farm, but these things make me swoon. So they’re Katie-like, not like Katie. We sat at a long shared wooden table and had beef carpaccio with raw egg, cheddar biscuits with honey butter, and a pork chop with jalapeño grits. The perfect salty creamy, unique blend of ingredients.
The next morning. Don’t even get me started on Susie’s cooking. Or her kitchen. But we were greeted with coffee, orange juice, homemade cinnamon rolls, bountiful fruit, and eggs in a croissant. Just amazing. And then the following morning was French toast soufle with bacon. And our final morning we were served a Mexican layered breakfast casserole and homemade donuts. Heart eyes, obviously.
We headed to Kunde winery with our friend Lidia (in a hurry!) for our mountain top tasting. It was a splendid experience. Another full cave tour, as well has seeing century-old vines as we drove up the mountain and then seeing the breathtaking views as we enjoyed more tastings at the top. With little italian breadsticks to munch on. Did you know you can cut off branches of a vine and attach it to another vine so that it becomes a part of it? I had no idea! But that’s what this winery did with 100 year old vines onto newer vines. We then headed back down the mountain to end with sweet port and salted chocolate. Loved the port. Bought the salted chocolate. We sat outside their winery with some goodies Joey and I picked up at Oxbow Market: mango (cut with a plastic knife), marcona almonds, brie, rosemary crackers, and prosciutto. It was as perfect as it sounds. Never mind my face in this picture, it was very windy on said mountain top.
A good friend of Joey’s was getting married in Sonoma Valley at a winery and that is what brought us to the area. This wedding was the most spectacular wedding I have ever been to, and the venue was a winery that had so many nooks and gardens with beautiful pieces of art. The bride had taken care of every detail including lemonade during the ceremony, shawls for guests at night, and French macarons as we left their reception. I was reminded at this wedding of the commitment Joey and I made before God 3 years ago to love and commit to each other until death parts us. I always love those sweet reminders.
We left on Sunday for San Francisco where Joey and I did our thing: wandering around on foot searching for awesome coffee and book stores. We went to the Ferry Marketplace, Fisherman’s Wharf, Scoma’s, I bought a hat (that I proceeded to wear in every picture-why??), Blue Bottle Coffee, La Boulange, a book store (where’s Joey?), Chinatown and had dinner semi-with Luisa (86 year old owner of her 37th restaurant in San Fran). Also, I scribbled down notes for how she makes her marinara. I will try that out forthcoming on the blog!
We enjoyed this time with our friends, celebrating the bride and groom, and our sweet times just the two of us making these memories surrounding Jesus and food/drink. Cheers! Have you been to any of these places? Are you going soon??