Napa/San Fran trip report with pictures

Discussion in 'Travel' started by Shane, May 30, 2012.

  1. Shane

    Shane Active Member

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    In early May, I was able to tag along with my wife to SFO. The plan was for me to arrive later in the week then head up to Napa. After doing some research, I decided to add on 2 extra days in San Francisco and enjoy a baseball game at AT&T park (a place I had yet to see a game at). While I'm a Dodger fan, I enjoy any baseball park regardless of who's playing. I'm not one of those fans that hates the opposing team (fans maybe but not the team!) and hopes they lose. I just enjoy my team.

    After arriving on a long 4 hour flight from Chicago on a Wednesday, I showered up and we decided to head out for the evening. The plan was a small dinner followed by a concert. My wife was attending a social media conference and they had Lionel Richie on tap for the show. That is until he bailed at the last minute. The management company found a good substitute (more expensive even) and offered to wave the extra costs to work it out. So we were treated with Earth, Wind & Fire instead.

    That evening, we ventured over to Tropisueno for dinner. This is a modern Mexican restaurant that really delivered. Most menu items were <$10 and very tasty. Think of it as Mexican tapas.
    Tropiseuno.jpg

    Once dinner was completed, we went to the concert at the nearby Hilton
    EWFSign.jpg
    EWFire.jpg

    They put on a killer show. While most of the 20 something age Iphone carrying marketing types were a bit clueless on who EW&F was, they put on a show that got the crowd rocking!

    The next morning, I met up with Allen for a day at AT&T park. On the way to the park, I walked by Yorba Buena Park. You can see the MoMA in the background
    YerbaBuena.jpg

    A short walk later, I arrived at AT&T park and had lunch with Allen at Momo's. At this point, the rain started and it looked bleak outside. After lunch, we sauntered over to AT&T park for the game which featured the San Francisco Giants vs the Miami Marlins. The Marlins ended up winning this game. I REALLY enjoyed my time at AT&T and will return as soon as possible
    Here are some pics of AT&T

    Main Entrance
    ATT1.jpg

    Willie Mays statue out front
    ATT2.jpg

    View from our seats
    ATT7Seat.jpg

    Right Field
    ATT3.jpg

    Looking towards Right Field from the seat
    ATT4Right.jpg

    Ditto but towards the left
    ATT5Left.jpg

    Center Field
    ATT6Center.jpg

    Towards McCovey Cove over right field
    ATT8UpperDeck.jpg

    and Finally Left Field
    ATT9LeftField.jpg


    That evening, we decided to hit up Kuleto's which felt like old time San Francisco. This place oozed History. The food was amazing. I recommend this place.
     
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  2. Shane

    Shane Active Member

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    The next morning, my wife and I made the trek out to Napa & Sonoma

    You have to cross the legendary Golden Gate Bridge first
    GoldenGateCrossing.jpg

    An hour or so later, you arrive in Wine Country

    We decided for Day 1 to try the Champagne err Sparkling Wine Caves
    1st Up was Domaine Carneros.. Owned by the Tattinger Family
    Domaine2.jpg
    Domaine1.jpg

    During this visit, we booked a tour and sampled 6 different Pinot Noir's & Sparkling Wines. Cost was $25. If you bought wine, they typically wave the charge.
    Overall, Domaine Carneros was a good start. These are traditional Champanges (dry) and didn't feature a ton of fruit flavor.

    Once we completed our tour, we moved on to Gloria Ferrer. This is a Spanish villa and featured amazing views
    Ferrer1.jpg

    During the tour, we sampled 2 different Sparkling Wines and paid a reasonable $10 for the tour which included the caves
    Ferrer2.jpg

    One thing that struck me was the difference between the 2 Sparkling Wine places. The approach was quite different. Domaine Carneros was more of a traditional place while Gloria Ferrer was more of a rebel. Their Sparkling Wines were fruity as opposed to dry like Domaine Carneros. Overall, I preferred Domaine Carneros. YMMV.

    Around 2:30pm, we were getting hungry. We needed to eat to absorb some of the alcohol we were enjoying. Oddly enough, we found Schellville Grill.
    We didn't know this but they were featured on Diners Drive-ins and Dives as a featured restaurant. As we found out, the food was amazing. For about $15, you received a big sandwich (I went with the Beef) while my wife sampled the Pork. As a dessert, we tried the Lumberjack Pie (think Fruit Cake but amazingly moist.
    LumberjackCake.jpg

    That evening, we checked into our hotel and caught a nap before our 9pm dinner extravaganza at Bottega
    Needless to say, that evening was one I won't forget. I met Michael Chiarello and enjoyed one of the best meals of my life. It was certainly worth the $150 we paid.
     
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  3. Shane

    Shane Active Member

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    Saturday & Sunday

    The next day we woke up from our food coma and decided to hit up 6 Wineries. In order to avoid a DUI, we decided to book a car service. At 10am, a Lincoln Town Car arrived and drove us for the day. This was a tad more expensive than the Wine Train but well worth it.

    The first stop was the Castello Di Amarosa
    CastelloDiAmarosa.jpg

    After we arrived, it appeared we were at Disneyland without kids. There were hundreds of people there and that turned us off. We decided to snap a few photos and forgo the tour ($18 without wine, $35 with) and move on.

    The next stop was Beringer. While I find Beringer wines to be awful, I was there for 2 purposes: 1. The Architecture and 2. to Pick up some cheap wine for a family member who enjoys their White Merlot. After finding out they can't ship to Tulsa, we moved on
    Beringer.jpg

    After Leaving Beringer, we went to V Sattui. V Sattui prides itself in being a destination and they were right. As we arrived, there were crowds of people enjoying wine in the courtyards while the barbeques were going. We walked into the tasting room and tasted 6 wines for $10. Most of the Wines were in the $25-$35 range but the fortified wines were the real jewels. Those typically were in the $50+ range. Needless to say the Madeira is outstanding. This is a fortified wine (with Brandy) that tastes almost like Pecan Pie.

    Shortly after, we left and drove over to Quintessa. We booked a tour in advance at the cost of an eye watering $60 a person. Needless to say, this a modern complex where they use gravity to let the grapes fall to them (fully organic as well). Each of their wines were in the $150 range. As we bought about 10 bottles, they gave us the tour for free (after the fact). The sheer amount of personal attention and knowledge was amazing.

    Around 3pm, we were getting hungry (and a bit tipsy) so we decided to hit up a locals joint called Rutherford Grill. The place was jam packed with people. At 3pm, the wait was well over an hour. That said, we got lucky and found a couple of bar stools. After munching down a delicious steak sandwich, we proceeded on.

    On the way out of town, the driver recommended Napa Cellars which features wines from Folie a Deux and Menage A Trois. For $5, you tried 3 different wines excluding the Menage a Trois wines.. Blah! Needless to say, we wish we didn't stop. Nothing really interested us.

    We weren't quite done yet so we ventured over to [http://www.aowinery.com/]Alpha Omega[/url]. This turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The architecture is a modern barn. Once inside, we paid the $30 and sampled 4 wines from a $36 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to a $57 bottle of Chardonnay (unoaked) to a couple of Cab's in the $58 and $90 range. I enjoyed everything except the Chard (I prefer the oaked varieties I found). Before we decided to order a few bottles, the manager dropped by and gave us a sampling of some futures that were coming (Cab). Needless to say, it was a winner (and kinda pricey at $130 a bottle). We placed our order and called it a day.

    The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and made 1 more stop before heading to the Airport.

    Our lone appointment was with Caymus. After we arrived, we checked in and plunked down the $30 a person sampling charge. As a bonus for being early, we nearly drank a bottle of their Mer Soliel Chardonnay. This is my kind of Chardonnay (very buttery and oaky). After the other guests arrived, we sampled 5 additional wines in a private tasting room that resembled a French Chateau dining room. The wines ranged from a $25 of Sauvingon Blanc to a $32 bottle of Zifandel to a $68 bottle of Cab and finally wrapped it up with a pricey $130 bottle of Private Selection Cab. The excellent tasting staff asked me what i thought. They fully expected me to say the $130 bottle was the best. In fact, it wasn't (for me). While the others disagreed, I thought the $130 bottle of Cab was too intense for my mouth.

    Overall, we had a blast. I sampled a ton of wine and enjoyed some amazing food and views. I learned a GREAT deal about what my tastes were like and what I preferred. Needless to say, it was quite the learning experience.
     
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  4. Bill Stratton

    Bill Stratton Active Member

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    Wow. Quite the adventure. Thanks for taking us along!
     
  5. John Celardo

    John Celardo Well-Known Member Donor

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    I'm cleaning the drool off my shirt! Great trip, and a wonderful description for the rest of us. Seems to me your piece could easily be published in a travel or food mag or blog. Great work.

    Sounds like you bought a ton of wine. How'd you get it all home? The car service was a great idea that Maureen and I didn't think of when we went.
     
  6. Shane

    Shane Active Member

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    Shipping wine was a very "grey" area. Each state is different WRT their liquor laws.
    Oklahoma is a very restrictive state for wine purchases. Our liquor laws are horrid. Several wineries flat out denied us. The shipping method was largely dependent on the winery we visited. Once we found a few wineries that would ship to Oklahoma, we arranged payment.

    We ran into 3 scenarios:
    1. We don't ship to Oklahoma. If you buy our wine, we don't know how you got it home. Translation: Buy it and take it to a local shipper (Typically a place called Stagecoach).
    2. While we don't ship to Oklahoma, if you sign this waiver that says "you shipped it to yourself", we'll be happy to drop it off at a local shipper (Typically a place called Stagecoach).
    3. We ship to Oklahoma. Which credit card will you be paying with?

    Shipping costs varied quite a bit. In any case, we received the wine in sealed boxes labeled "Alcoholic beverages inside, Make sure someone 21+ is available to sign for it".

    When we opened the boxes, they were packed well in Wine bottle shaped Styrofoam. They were shipped insured and we didn't see any issues.

    I hope this helps.
     
  7. Carl V

    Carl V Bronze Member Donor Top Poster

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    sounds like a nice trip
    for those reading along...
    the Castello Di Amarosa
    can be toured on your own.
    I forget the fee...nominal.
    then you can go to the cellar
    and taste a wide variety of wines.

    &

    The same guy (an architect) owns both destinations.
    his wines are more Italian styled. V Sattui has a huge deli.
    it's a great place to kick back & picnic.

    Sound s like a great time Shane. I hope you get the chance
    to return someday.
     
  8. Shane

    Shane Active Member

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    Was $18..we didn't want the full on tour nor the tasting.. they wanted $18. Given how much of a circus it was, we moved on.
     
  9. chad

    chad Well-Known Member Top Poster

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    Looks like an awesome trip.
     
  10. Jerry Pease

    Jerry Pease Active Member Top Poster

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    Very cool! It looks like you had blast.
     

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