One of my very favorite wineries on my recent wine-tasting trip to Sonoma and Napa was Round Pond Estate, because it offered such a relaxing, homey atmosphere. To be fair, the weather also warmed up for us that day, and we got to sit around on the estate’s gorgeous patio, soaking up the sun and trying delicious wine. It was meant to be! The owners were friendly and hospitable, bringing out trays of delicious eats to compliment our wines. Every detail was perfect, as if we had wandered into a well-curated dinner party. We were all so happy there that I must declare this one of my favorite wineries in Napa Valley.
Domestic, I am not. Maybe that’s why I’ve never married? I travel, am up for anything, drink fine wine, and am adventurous when it comes to food. But a natural in the kitchen? Come ON. Leave it to Trafalgar Tours to show me the ways. On our recent journey through Napa, I was expecting a delicious adventure through some of my favorite wineries, after, of course, visiting San Francisco’s Chinatown, Farmers’ Market, and Napa’s Oxbow food market. Instead? Our first stop required me to MAKE some wine. When it comes to the vino, I know a lot about what I like. But I never really put much thought into just how the powers at be decide on how much of each varietal to put into a blend. Visiting wine country wineries such as Ravenswood in Sonoma makes wine tasting packages special — and that’s before you’ve even begun to roll up your sleeves and take a class. Math first-thing in the morning? Sure! Bring it on. No buzz can be ruined by a few percentage equations… right?
On my most recent trip to Napa, I knew I was with kindred spirits when Andi of My Beautiful Adventures, Andi of Misadventures with Andi, and I decided to run over to Oxbow Market to take down some oysters and champagne to kick off our stay. So far, every trip of mine in this particular slice wine country has started this way. I’m not sure why… Is it the magical saltiness of Hog Island‘s famous oysters, or the heavy pours of the local champagnes? I’m not sure. All I know is that on this Napa trip, I have never laughed harder. Within a minute of being there, we met two very outgoing men who were as enamored with the two Andis as I was…. Who can blame them?
Sadly, I rarely take a vacation with my “IRL” (that’s “in real life” for you non-social media junkies) friends, aside from a steady stream of weddings. Thankfully, I have an enormous web of online travel pals to hit the road with “just because.” In the case of a recent girls weekend in Napa, I had met both girls off-line first before re-connecting with them on the web. Kristin (LEFT) and I worked together more than five years ago but barely knew each other. Then she found me on Twitter, and we met briefly during my first trip to Napa last year. Diana (MIDDLE) and I knew each other the first time I lived in Vegas, when I was a magazine editor and she a publicist. I was living as an expat in Costa Rica when I got a surprise email from her asking advice about taking time off to travel. Neither of us ever thought we’d move back to Vegas (what a transition!) — but here both of us are! Don’t let the champagne fool you — this was one of the most budget-friendly trips I’ve ever taken. Head to Virgin America for cheap flights, and all tastings are easy on the wallet. Girls trips for everyone!
Sometimes the best part about living in frenetic Las Vegas is how easy it is to get out of town for weekend getaways. Yet, in all of my years here (five, off and on), I’d never been to Napa. On a recent weekend, I changed that, heading to northern California with my friend Leora.
After the easiest Southwest flight, I landed in San Francisco for a night on the town. We met up with one of my favorite travel bloggers/photographers/writers, Kristin Luna, of Camels and Chocolate. For some reason, the only pictures we took were on my BlackBerry, which later died. Spending more time with this talented, amazing girl is the top reason I want to go back to SF soon!
The next morning, Leora and I took off for Napa, giddy as two schoolgirls. We jumped out of our car at the Golden Gate bridge, running around with our cameras and making other tourists take a million pictures of us until we got that perfect one (see above!).