This past weekend, Solon and I took a much needed trip to celebrate our 5th Anniversary a week early. My friend Allison Garrett had told me about this awesome Barrel Tasting event that takes place in California Wine Country the 1st two weekends in March. For only $20, you get a wristband and a map of over 100 wineries that are participating and you get to sample all their delicious wines and purchase the bottles that you like. So we made plans to fly into San Francisco on Friday, and sightsee during the day, and then we would drive up to Santa Rosa (where our hotel was) after dinner on Friday night, sleep in, and be ready for 2 days of wine drinking! Sounded great to us - and it was! The only damper on the trip was that our flight there was delayed, and when we arrived in San Francisco it was POURING!!! Weather.com completely mislead us. But we decided to buck up and purchase some cheapy umbrellas and walk around the city anyway.
We started off having lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Meeting Forrest Gump!
How to make a real Irish Coffee (courtesy of the Buena Vista Cafe):
1. Warm glasses by filling them with piping hot water
2. Empty the glass, drop 3 sugar cubes in the glass, and fill 3/4 full with piping hot coffee
3. Pour a full 1 oz. shot of good Irish Whiskey into the glass
4. Use a spoon (in order to lay it on top) and gently top with fresh whipped cream.
5. Serve & enjoy!
In the 20 minutes that we were at the cafe, the bartender must have made at least 100 of these! He could have done it in his sleep!
The sun finally decided to come out around 6pm
Solon by the street car
Alcatraz at sunset & the view from the pier
Dinner at The Cliff House
Frutti de Mare – Sauteed Rock Shrimp, Scallops, Crab Meat, Mussels, Clams, Penne Pasta
Not only were we looking forward to tasting wine all day, but we were looking forward to spending some quality time with Holly & Chad who drove up from Reno to have their own weekend getaway before their baby is due.
What a beautiful way to start off a Saturday - at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery
The Trentadue Winery was such a beautiful place - I could definitely picture a wedding there
And they were representin' ASU!
Clos Du Bois Winery
Bella Vineyards & Caves was definitely the coolest of all the wineries we visited. It was a place that we could have stayed at all day long. Apparently, everyone else felt the same way - it was packed!
After visiting several wineries, we finally decided to purchase some bottles at Pedroncelli - they had the most delicious Sangiovese & we couldn't get enough!
Last stop of the day was at the Geyser Peak Winery
Solon and Chad getting educated on the wine process
After sleeping in Sunday, we headed into Healdsburg (the cutest little town ever) for some breakfast before we started our day.
Solon's Cheesy eggs, with roasted potatoes and homemade ketchup were amazing and my pancakes were perfection - which is why I almost forgot to take a picture of them!
Chad & Holly ordered a Breakfast pizza & Blueberry Pancakes that were out of this world
Sunday was filled with some of the best moments of our trip.
Here was the 1st happy moment completed by a croissant and a vanilla latte
The 2nd happy moment took place at the Flying Goat Cafe where we stopped after breakfast so I could purchase some coffee beans to take home
I was standing in line waiting to purchase the coffee beans, when I hear the Barista announce, "Cappuccino for Candida." I thought that was wierd because I hadn't ordered a drink at all - so I looked at the Barista's order list, and sure enough, there was my name written down. I looked at the cashier and asked, "Did he just say Candida? That's my name!" And the cashier said that the other Candida came in almost every day!! As she came up to the counter to pick up her drink I said, "We have the same name!!!" We got to talking and I found out she was German and really nice, so it was a super cool moment. She gave me her business card (with our name on it) and I plan on sending her this blog post so she can see our picture on here.
We dropped Holly & Chad off at the hotel so they could head back to Reno, and we had to take some pics, because the next time we see them, they will have a little baby!
We decided to visit just a couple more wineries on Sunday since our flight wasn't until 9pm - first stop Paradise Ridge Winery which we picked because they were serving Wild Mushroom & Brie soup with sauteed exotic mushrooms and truffle oil. The wine was great, the soup was divine, and the views were beautiful!
Then we pulled up to Carol Shelton Winery which was in an industrial park, and had an old Chevy parked out front. Solon said that we should skip it because we came to try wine and see gorgeous views, but I said that I might as well try some of the wine since we were already there.
Man am I glad we didn't pass this gem up. This is a perfect example of how we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover. We walked in and the first room was COVERED in ribbons and awards. There were articles on the walls saying that this woman had spent years working for other wineries and winning them awards, before she finally decided to do it on her own. Everyone that was working there was fun, and spirited, and we found out that they are all volunteers who get paid in WINE! And man, was this wine delicous. This was the only other place that we ended up buying wine from, but this time we bought "futures" so that this time next year, we will have the wine from the barrels we tasted delivered to our door. What an exciting day that will be!
The final stop we decided to make before heading back to San Francisco was the D'Argenzio Winery, definitely the smallest of all that we had visited.
A true Italian family that made the best pizza to go along with their wine - great flavors to go along with a great day.
Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge
We had a late lunch at Scoma's which had amazing Calamari and we were able to walk around the city a little bit longer before we had to head to the airport.
As soon as we were getting in line to board the plane, I saw the actor Benjamin Bratt looking for a seat in a less-crowded area. I said to Solon, "That's Benjamin Bratt! You know, the guy from A&E's The Cleaner, and Miss Congeniality? And he was recently on Modern Family? I love that guy! I am going to say hi."
So I went over (and got all nervous on the way), and he was putting his little earphones in his ear and not paying attention to this girl approaching him. So I said, "Hello Mr. Bratt. I am just about to board my plane, but I saw you walking over here and wanted to come over and tell you that I am a big fan of your work. I think you're great." He looked at me, a little stunned, and I think he said something, but I was too busy talking, so I am not sure what it was. Then I said, "I'm Candida." And I stuck my hand out to shake his. So he shook my hand with his (which was warm and strong by the way), and said, "Thank you Candida, have a safe flight home." I smiled at him and ran to Solon like a teenage girl. It was so funny. I can't believe I got starstruck. I used to be so good at not being starstruck. I guess when you have been out of the game for a while, and you see this gorgeous actor who is even better looking in person... it comes back. =) But it was an awesome way to end our trip.
The best part of course, was coming home safely to Quincy and Forrest, who we missed so much. We are so grateful to my parents for watching our sons over the weekend, and I am really happy because Quincy didn't cry at all when we left, and he had a blast with them. Thanks again Mommy & Daddy for allowing us this little getaway.
So that's the story of our little whirlwind trip. It was FABULOUS, and simple, and sweet, and delicious, and just the right length of time. I highly recommend checking out the barrel tasting event to anyone that loves trying wine. We only hit like 10 wineries out of 100+, so we just might have to do that again sometime soon.
Here's the website again in case you are curious, and want to start planning a trip for next March: Wine Road Annual Barrel Tasting Event