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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Napa Birthday Trip - Part Two

After the amazing meal at French Laundry, we got some sleep and then was up early to grab breakfast at the hotel before spending the day wine tasting. Jim and I both noticed a much larger crowd for breakfast and figured it must have something to do with the V Foundation Wine Celebration that was taking place at our hotel and The Vintage Inn down the street. During the meal, I needed to grab some more juice at the buffet and as I'm walking in, there is a man walking towards me that looked so familiar. As he passed, I kept my cool, smiled at him and said "Good Morning." He responded in kind and as I walked away I wanted to jump up and down because I had just exchanged morning pleasantries with Coack K!! He and his wife were the hosts for the Wine Celebration, so their whole family was there. When I got back to Jim, I was about to tell him about my run-in, but before I could open my mouth, he just smiled at me and said "I already know, he's sitting right there." So cool!

Once we had finished our star-studded breakfast, we met up with our driver and headed out to drink, um, I mean taste a lot of wine. ;)

Hess Winery

We were really excited about this place and it didn't disappoint. We split a regular tasting (any 4 wines on their normal list) and a vertical tasting of cabernets. So fabulous. We went home with a several bottles of wine and a membership to their wine club. Wheee!

Signorello Winery

This one was a recommendation from our driver. The grounds are gorgeous - they often do public tasting events at the pool area and we were bummed we weren't there during one of the food events. We shared a tasting, which included 4 wines.
The wines themselves were really quite lovely, but there wasn't much in the way of ambiance for the tasting itself. All told, we were there for maybe 30 minutes, including taking pictures and puchasing a bottle of wine.
On our way out, I was totally tempted by this book, but alas, I left it. :(

Frog's Leap
Another recommendation from our driver. I can't tell you how much we loved this place. The only organic winery in the Napa Valley, they are very proud of their green ways and it shows not only in the speel they give, but also in the decor.

Due to their license, you have to have a reservation, so when we arrived they had a table all set up for us. We each had our own tasting and I was quite happy that I didn't have to share. Not only were the wines delicious, but the tasting also came with a cheese and cracker plate with the best gouda I've ever tasted. It was like all of my favorite things on one table. And to make things even better, they even had a dog running around. I think had we not already bought several Cabernets at Hess, we likely would have bought more than the single bottle of Sauvignon Blac we went home with from this place.

Once we had "tasted" most of our pours, we each took a glass and wandered around the vegetable and fruit gardens and the grapevines.

Auberge Du Soleil
We stopped here for lunch and it was so good! We ate on the outdoor patio off the bar with gorgeous views of the entire Valley below us. Jim had a BLT with avocado and I opted for the pizza with prosciutto. The food was really fabulous and the perfect break from a full day of drinking. :)

Huh. What to say about Beringer. Jim had been told from a colleague that Beringer was fabulous, so we added it to our itinerary. What he had neglected to say was that he thought it was fabulous in college. :/ Needless to say, after the smaller, more intimate wineries, Beringer was just too big and too commercial. We would have liked to have gone through the wine caves, but we were in between times and didn't want to wait around. Instead, we split a tasting in their reserve room, which was meh. How uninspiring was this place? I only have a single picture from our time there - Jim double-fisting some meh wine.

Mumm Napa
Perfect end to a perfect afternoon. We had a kickass server who bonded with Jim over surround sound entertainment systems and Kill Bill. We split two tastings - 3 classics and 2 reserves - but our server also brought us tastings of a Santana wine (surprisingly tasty) and a reserve Rose. Some of the pictures are um, blurry. Cut me some slack though, at this point I'd been drinking for well over 4 hours. ;)

We finally made it back to the hotel around 5ish, giving us enough time for a quick rest and then to get ready for dinner. Our destination - Ad Hoc.

As much as I'd heard that French Laundry was the best meal ever, I'd also heard some pretty amazing things about Ad Hoc. Each night they do a single 4 course menu, which changes daily. I forgot to take a picture of the menu, so you'll have to bear with my descriptions of the meal.
Watermelon salad with feta and an herb vinaigrette. Fresh, light and summery. We cleaned the plate.

Tri-tip with potatoes cooked in duck fat. Perfectly cooked steak and drool-worthy potatoes. Fabulous.

Mixed veggies. Lovely accompaniment to the steak and potatoes.

Really strong goat cheese, two other milder cheeses, apple slices and honey. The goat cheese was just too strong for me, but the other cheeses was really good. The apples, drizzled with olive oil were a nice surprise, but the honey was the real standout here. I don't even like honey all that much, but as I told the server, had the container not been so sticky, I would have thrown it in my purse and taken it home with me. Jim and I ate as much as we could drizzled on the apples, the cheese, the bread, you name it, while our eyes rolled around in our head. The server was kind enough to write the name down for me, now I just need to dig out the card and order some!
And because we obviously didn't drink nearly enough during the day, we had some wine with dinner. Dessert was some sort of brownie sundae - really yummy. No pictures as we got to talking to the very sweet Australian couple next to us and giving them advice about things to see in LA (their next stop in their US tour). We did, however, wind up with a picture of us at dinner, so you get that instead of dessert. Ha!
We really enjoyed our dinner at Ad Hoc, the vibe of the place as much as the food. I'd highly recommend it if you're in the area. We cannot wait to go back - unlike French Laundry, it's a restaurant we plan on patronizing as often as possible. :)

The next day it was time to head back to LA. Total bummer. Before we got on the road, we took a quick picture in front of the hotel and then drove down to French Laundry to get a few pictures of the building and the garden in the daylight.

This trip was absolutely fantastic! We ate some amazing food, drank some fabulous wines and had a chance to just relax. We can't wait to go back for another mini trip soon. :)


  1. man, we need to go to napa again soon. thanks for the winery reviews. :)

    and what is it about napa that makes non-wine drinkers total winos all of a sudden? mmm.

  2. My FIL is a bit of a wino and RAVES about Frog's Leap. He wants to take us there next year.

    So glad you guys had fun!

  3. I need to go to napa, stat!

    and, uh, thanks for linking the coach K website, although I still have no idea who the guy is. ;/

  4. I have no idea who Coach K is neither :X What a fun weekend!

  5. We have such similar tastes in wines! We're big fans of Hess Cab(keep a bottle of it at my mom's at all times) and Frog's Leap whites, though we haven't been to either winery. Have you guys done Sonoma yet? We enjoyed the fact that most of their wineries are smaller and more intimate than a lot of the Napa ones.

  6. What a fun-filled weekend! Great wine and food :) I've never been to Napa, but it sounds so lovely!

  7. What a truly amazing trip. I could eat at Ad Hoc every night. I love that they have 1 menu and serve it family style. It's like going to someone's house, except more expensive.

  8. Gorgeous pictures...what a fun trip!

  9. What a decadent trip! I'm so envious!

    And Coach K? Gah! Love him!

    I'm so glad you and Jim were able to immerse yourselves in the moment and enjoy every experience. Thank you so much for sharing the days with us!

  10. This all looks so fabulous, almost unreal to me. Thanks for sharing the photos and the commentary, everything looked so beautiful, including you two =D

  11. drunk just reading about it. loove. and adore you in that pink with that necklace. love love love.

  12. The food and wine all look delicious, and you look hot in that pink dress!

    I've heard good things about Ad Hoc and would love to try it - definitely a bit more budget friendly than it's big brother :)

  13. Sounds so awesome, and I'm not even into wine. What a great birthday trip!

  14. What an incredible trip!! LOVE this post!!

  15. okay, i totally don't know who coach k is, but i'm happy you're happy.

    and i LOVE that shot of you in the winery - that bright pink dress really pops out!