My husband Mike and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a trip to Napa Valley last weekend. We stayed at the Inn on Randolph, a lovely bed and breakfast in the town of Napa itself.
I get pretty sentimental when I think back to when Mike and I started dating in high school 26 years ago. I knew he was the one for me, but I could not have imagined that we would go on to have three girls (now 6, 9 and 12) and be so lucky to have the life we do now.
Our first night in Napa we went to Mustards Grill, where I had best duck I’ve ever eaten (and that’s not just because I consumed it with a flight of red wine, where I managed to choose the most expensive of the three selections as my favorite — maybe I’m not such a cheap date after all!)
Back in town we walked to Frati Gelato Cafe for dessert. Their chocolate is not my favorite but the sorbets are incredible. We sat along the riverfront and listened to live music in the park nearby.
The next day we rented bikes from Napa Valley Bike Tours in Sonoma. There’s also a shop in the upscale town of Yountville and we could have ridden from there on the Silverado Trail, but we preferred to shy away from the tipsy drivers and instead chose to ride on the back roads in Sonoma. Our first stop was at one of the smaller wineries, Homewood.
Mike got to chat up the Homewood vintner David, who happily answered our questions about when to harvest the grapes from the two Cabernet Sauvignon vines we have growing at home. We loved David’s wines, and the 2010 late harvest Semillon dessert wine turned out to be our favorite wine of the many we tasted over the course of the weekend.
After our first tasting we rode across the street for lunch at The Fremont Diner. The service was terrible (a 45-minute wait for our to-go order of food?!) but the Whole Hog sandwich and mac and cheese were delicious!
Next we headed to Gundlach Bundschu, affectionately called Gun Bun. It’s a gorgeous 153-year-old estate vineyard with an interesting family history. It offered a totally different tasting experience in a large tasting room with a bit of a crowd.
We ended up riding 14 miles total and loving the whole thing. You can take a more expensive, organized bike tour but the bike shop helped us create our own route and tailored a unique, private ride that suited us better.
We turned the bikes back in just before 5 p.m., picked up the wine we’d bought from Homewood, and headed to FARM Restaurant at The Carneros Inn for the best meal of our trip. We sat outside on the gorgeous patio and splurged on the 7-course tasting menu with wine pairing. It was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary!
One might think that seven wine pairings might not be the best way to prepare for a long run the next day — and one might be right — but Mike and I woke up at 6 a.m. and got right out to Alston Park for a run on the trail through the dog park:
followed by an out-and-back up Dry Creek Road.
We stopped to pick nature’s best fuel — wild blackberries!
Mike ran 10 miles with me and you’d never know that it was the first time he’d run that far! We finished the run on the downhill along Dry Creek Road and hit 8-minute mile times for the last three miles!
After a quick clean-up in the whirlpool tub in our room and quinoa salad for breakfast at the B&B, we headed out for our last wine tasting, this time at Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford. The B&B owner knew we would love going to a mid-size winery that practices sustainable agriculture to grow organic grapes without watering (a huge plus for them and us in this extended drought in California).
It’s funny because the Frog’s Leap wine labels do not say anything about the wine being organic — you can tell that the winery simply wants to be known for making great wine, and it does! We ended up buying some Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a unique, heritage red blend.
We ended our trip with lunch at Bottega in Yountville. I highly recommend it for an excellent meal for a (more) reasonable price in Napa. And you can’t leave without going next door for chocolates and gelato at Kollar Chocolates!
Have you ever been to Napa? Confess, do you own a “Will Run for Wine” or “Will Bike for Wine” t-shirt?!