Monday, October 1, 2012

Cruisin' Napa Valley - Day 1

After zipping through the steep streets of San Francisco, DH and I headed for wine country.  We stayed with my dear friend, Jenny and her adorable family, just outside of Napa Valley.  Jenny has three perfect little boys and a darling husband, Michael.  Their family had just moved to Fairfield from Charleston and we were so glad to be able to see them all again (and Baby Ryan - for the first time)!

We all took off for Sonoma on our first day in the area.  Michael and the boys went to play at Train Town while DH, Jenny, Baby Ryan and I checked out downtown Sonoma.  It was such a cute little area with precious little boutiques lining the streets.  I fell in love with a little French store and wanted to buy everything inside!  My head was practically spinning while looking at all of the beautiful silver, accessories, soaps and housewares.  I just had this intense desire to buy SOMETHING in this store!  After much debate, I chose a silky cotton taupe scarf with polka dots that will always remind me of that little shop in Sonoma. 

We had a terrific petite lunch that day and I was in heaven!  I ordered one of my favorite French dishes - 'Moules' or Mussels in White Wine Sauce.  I've made this dish at home, using a Barefoot Contessa recipe, but have never been able to order it at a restaurant.  DH says it's the best dish I make, so one day I'll write a 'how to' for mussels. 

After lunch, it was time to go to our first winery - Benziger Vineyards.  By the way, DH and I splurged a little on our wheels and it was worth each penny!

Riding through Sonoma Valley in the incredible weather in a convertible is an experience not to miss!

The crew rolling in to Benziger Vineyards.  It's a great winery for families, with a playground for the kiddos.  That's Jenny in the blue, with Jack and DH in the back horseing around with Luke.  Being with the boys and getting to know their personalities was so much fun!  Someday, I hope they'll remember the 'fabulous' paper planes we made together. 

I loved the way the sun shined on the rows and rows of grapevines. But the sun shines all over wine country and we had lots more to see!  Our GPS directed us to the next winery via the scenic route and we couldn't have been happier.  We drove the curvy roads on the hill/mountain(?) and enjoyed the incredible views - all with the top down, of course!  We made our way to V. Sattui Vineyards in Napa Valley, which is also a great place to bring a family. They had a nice shop with cheeses, dried meats, prepared foods, olive oils and so much more!  Our guide book said this was the best place in Napa Valley for a picnic and it sure was!  Charcuterie Heaven!

Jenny and DH doing it Napa-style - aka 'tasting' the best from V. Sattui.  We each bought bottles from here - although it was from a slightly snooty somelier - say that three times really fast!  Wait, maybe I should have asked him to say it!

The 'lawn' area outside of the tasting room was the perfect place for kiddos to run around.  Michael played catch with the boys and James taught Luke how to do a headstand.  Look at DH holding Baby Ryan - this almost made my ovaries click, but then I realized that this vacation probably would have been prohibited had there been a little one!

After a great day with our friends, Jenny and family left in search of pizza, while DH and I dined at Tra Vigne.  Look at this stunning courtyard!

Our favorite dish at this restaurant was the made-to-order fresh mozzarella.  Get this - they literally make it from scratch after you place the order.  This how it arrived...

The waiter sliced it up and prepared it for us.  I also ordered a delicious plate of heirloom tomatoes - the BEST tomatoes I've ever eaten.

Great friends, scrumptious food, darling husband and beautiful scenery.  A perfect day.

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