Napa Valley 2018

Domaine Carneros vineyard

Because Air Canada started up a new non-stop flight from Edmonton to San Francisco, we decided to fly down to spend a long weekend with our San Francisco friends for my birthday.  This time we spent the entire time with them in Napa.  I didn’t do a daily journal this time, as we will mostly just be eating, drinking and visiting.

You can check out some pictures of our trip HERE in my web album.  And I’ve done a summary of our trip below – which I will be updating as I go.

Day 1 – Flying from Edmonton to San Francisco

The Air Canada concierges knew that we were flying out to San Francisco, so they asked us to stop by the concierge office – which is on the way to the U.S. gates.  We knocked on the door, which was answered by Akemi.  She then phoned the 2 other concierges on duty – Jessica and Colleen, and they arrived a few minutes later with a birthday card and present for me!  Apparently some little bird had been telling them about my birthday getaway!

They gave me a nice card, a “San Francisco” cookie that they had snagged from the inaugural flight celebration, some Ferrero Rocher chocolates and an Edmonton International Airport scarf with a plane pattern on it.  So nice!!

We hung out and chatted with the concierges for quite a while.  We finally went through security, but Akemi caught up to us at security – as Randy had left his sunglasses and work phone in the concierge office. She walked with us to the gate, and felt bad that our flight was delayed.  So, she printed off $15 food vouchers for both of us – and told us to go have a coffee at Starbucks.  Totally unnecessary!  But we ended up using one of the vouchers to get a drink for Randy, some chocolate croissants, and cookies for the flight.

Our flight left about an hour late. You can read more details about our flight in my flight review.  When we got to San Francisco, we were surprised by the San Francisco concierges just after we got off the plane.  They had a card and a gift for me as well!  They gave me a little box of macaron cookies.  So sweet!

We then headed to get our rental car and drove to our friends’ place in Napa, where they had some chilled champagne waiting for us when we arrived. (Yay).  We sat around visiting, but at midnight we headed to bed, as it had been a long day for us.

Day 2 – Picnic and Wine

Had a nice leisurely morning, then headed to V. Sattui Winery for a picnic lunch. This winery has an awesome deli to purchase food and then sit out in their picnic grounds to enjoy with wine.  We arrived just before 1:00pm, and even though it was a Friday, the place was extremely busy.  Georgeann and I went to the deli to grab some food, while Randy went to find a picnic table and Desmond was tasked with choosing a bottle of wine.

Georgeann and I were a little concerned because when we went to get a ticket for the deli, we had number 75, and they were only serving number 55.  It went slow for a bit, but when they got to the late 60’s, they zipped through a lot of numbers because people must have just given up and left.  We ended up with some flat bread, roasted Brussel sprouts, olives stuffed with almonds, mushrooms, mustard shrimp, mixed seafood salad, Applewood smoked cheddar, harvarti cheese and some salami.  We took the food out to the picnic table and enjoyed the spread under a shady tree.

Caymus wine tasting

We hung out there until our scheduled wine tasting at the nearby Caymus Vineyards.  It was only a 10 minute drive away.  Since our friends have a place in Napa, they qualify for the “Napa Neighbors” benefits.  Some wineries offer free tastings or discounts on wine for Napa Neighbors.  At Caymus, they get free tastings (which are regularly $50 each).  So, we got to enjoy a free tasting as well!

We were given a spot on their outdoor patio.  Our host was very friendly and he even gave us 2 additional tastings of their sparking wine and sparkling rose (which weren’t on the regular tasting menu).  We liked the sparkling rose so much that we ended up buying 3 bottles.

We went back to our friends’ house and had some more wine, then went out to Eiko’s for sushi (which was delicious).  And where we had some more wine.  We wandered around downtown Napa a bit, then went back to the house.  As I had consumed a good portion of wine during the day, I ended up falling asleep on the couch.  I hauled myself to bed at 10:00pm.

Day 3 – Wine and Steak

Pine Ridge Winery

We had a very lazy morning and went out for lunch at Tannya’s Taqueria.  I had fish tacos and Randy had a burrito.  My fish tacos were a little soggy, but Randy’s burrito was quite tasty.

After lunch, another friend of ours – Rich – drove out to Napa to do some wine tasting with us.  We ended up going to Miner Family and Pine Ridge wineries to do some tasting.  Rich drove us in his Tesla.  We had free tasting at Miner Family because Georgeann and Desmond are members there.  We had a free tasting at Pine Ridge because of the Napa Neighbors program.

After that, we went back to the house and had some drinks on the patio before having a delicious steak dinner. Again, I had mucho wine to drink, and ended up going to bed at 10:30pm.

Day 4 – Champagne and Birthday Dinner

Wine tasting at Domaine Carneros

Today we had booked an 11:00am tour at Domaine Carneros winery.  We had some breakfast, then headed out the door.  We got there just as the tour was starting.  The tour starts you in a tasting room where we tried their Brut and Ultra Brut sparkling wines.  The guide was very knowledgeable and explained the whole process for creating sparkling wine.

We then went down some stairs where he talked some more about how they rotate the bottles to have the sediment end up at the cap of the bottle.  They then freeze the bottle necks in glycol, and then when they open the bottle, the frozen ‘wine-sicle’ with all the sediment just pops right out.  Then they top up the bottles and cork them.

We were given tastes of their La Reve and their sparkling Rose – both of which were very yummy.  Then we were led into a room where we sat down to try their Famous Gate cabernet sauvignon and some nibblies.  In all, the tour took about an hour.

After the tour, we had a brief stop at the Napa Premium Outlets.  I ended up buying a new purse (Happy birthday to me!), and then we continued back to the house where we had a steak salad on the deck.

After that, Randy took me out to a nearby Kara’s Cupcakes (which is the same bakery chain that made the cookies the San Francisco concierges gave me).  We picked out some cupcakes to have for dessert later.

Around 5:30pm, we headed off to Mustard’s Grill for my birthday supper.  We arrived a few minutes early, and our table wasn’t ready.  We ended up waiting about 20 minutes to be seated.  We had a Tuna Cracker appetizer, which was really good.  For the main meal, I had the Famous Mongolian pork chop, and Randy had barbecued baby back ribs.  Both were SO good.  However, they are large portions, and I couldn’t finish all of my pork chop (Randy was gallant enough to finish it off for me). We didn’t have any dessert (even though it looked good) as we were too stuffed, and we also had cupcakes waiting back at the house.

Once back at the house, we just let our food settle for a bit, then had the cupcakes with some sparkling rose (which went very well with them).  We visited some more with our friends and finally went to bed at 11:00pm.

Day 5 – Flying from San Francisco to Edmonton

We had a noon flight out of SFO, but as we had to drive through the tail end of weekday rush hour traffic, we left Napa at 8:30am.  It took us about 2 hours to get to the airport.

Once at the airport, we met up with Yuki – one of the Air Canada concierges that was not able to meet us when we arrived on Thursday.  Yuki had yet another gift for me (a glasses case and cleaning cloth with a San Francisco skyline design and a lovely draw string bag from Vietnam).  That was so nice of her!

We headed through security and got to the gate just as the inbound flight was arriving.  We were supposed to leave at 12:00pm, but it was closer to 12:30pm when we finally pushed back from the gate.  The menu on the plane was the exact same one as the one on the way down.  I was going to try the pasta – but as we were sitting in row 4, we were the last ones to order, and they only had chicken left.  So, I had the chicken again.  It was decent – just like on the flight down.

I watched the movie “Lady Bird”, and then tried to snooze a bit.  The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed about 20 minutes later than the original flight schedule.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend with our friends.  Might have had a little more wine and food than a person really needed, but we had a lot of fun.