Back by popular demand, Pete Foster is guest blogging today. He has just returned from an amazing dad/daughter trip with Taylor to Napa, California. It’s one of his favorite destinations and she had never been. What a perfect way to explore the California wine country!
Enjoy! xoxo – Tanya
destination: Napa, California
I love the Wine Country north of San Francisco. It’s a source of 40 years of happy memories and the origin of most of my favorite wines. I truly enjoy introducing friends and loved ones to this great area and what it has to offer in wine, food and fun. Having just returned from one such adventure with my youngest daughter, Tanya asked that I share the trip with you on her blog.
This was the first solo dad-daughter trip with my 23-year old daughter, other than YMCA Indian Princesses that is, so I wanted it to be very special. She and her long-time boyfriend had been developing a taste for fine wines, so I racked my brain to select the best places to visit from the 600+ wineries in Napa, Sonoma, and the surrounding areas. I also wanted to find some exceptional restaurants and have some fun to boot!
In my planning, I decided on keeping the extent of our visit to just the Napa Valley since our trip was so short – only three days (two nights). I picked a nice quite hotel just north of Napa proper, at the south end of the wineries. It’s just off the main road through the center of the Napa Valley, California 29, aka the St. Helena Hwy. We had a great time since their nightly price included Wi-Fi, parking, breakfast, and evening wine tastings. They have several other amenities but we were too busy to use the pool, hot tub or gym.
The wineries I chose for us to visit were BV (Beaulieu Vineyards), Cakebread Cellars, Hall Rutherford, Domaine Chandon, and Cardinale. I wanted to introduce Taylor to some of my favorites while also exploring one or two new vineyards I had heard about. While there are so many wineries to visit, I think that you can’t really do more than two a day without going into overload – or becoming a wineaholic. I also signed us up for special activities at a few wineries so we did more than just tasting. The Champaign cocktail class at Domain Chandon was great fun, as was the winery tour with the tasting in the caves at Hall Rutherford.
I put a lot of emphasis on fine dining, too. We had dinner at two of the finest restaurants Napa offers, Auberge du Soleil (Michelin one-star) and The Restaurant at Meadowood (a Michelin three-star restaurant). We had a wonderful lunch, too, at Bouchon (another Michelin one-star) in Yountville – thanks to Tanya’s blog fans for the recommendation. She puts questions out to her followers on social media and the recommendations never disappoint.
Another fun thing to do in Napa is a hot air balloon flight at sunrise, so I made sure we fit that in. The Napa Valley Drifters balloon flights are strongly recommended! Taylor and I enjoyed a wonderful, two-person, 80 minute flight over Napa and all the way to South Sonoma. The pilot/owner Terry made a spectacular landing in a pasture at a friend’s winery, Nicholson Ranch Winery, and Ramona came out to greet us and to open the gate to let the chase truck into the pasture! The lion in the pasture is a whole other story.
I know Taylor enjoyed the trip and we’ll have memories to last a lifetime. We returned to the San Francisco airport via the Golden Gate Bridge after having used the Oakland Bay Bridge on the way to Napa – the first time she had seen either one. The weather was so clear; she had great views of the sailboats at Sausalito and Alcatraz in San Fransisco Bay.
This is a trip well worth the investment. Watch for a follow-up post about the wineries. – Pete
Photo: Pete’s iPhoneTags: california, Pete Foster, USA