Our 9-day family vacay to California was definitely one of those trips that made it difficult to return home. Here's a recap of all the things - including our recommendations.
B A Y A R E A
Our first part of the trip was spent in the San Francisco area.
We were a little jet lagged on our first day + recovering from a late flight, so we laid low and explored the area around our house. Later that day, game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals was being played in Oakland. When in Rome? We aren't huge fans of either team, but it was so fun. The atmosphere of Oracle Arena was unlike anything I've seen. This was probably the most spontaneous thing we've done in a while. We even ran into a few folks we know from WV after the game! Small world.
A bucket list trip of mine: Napa Valley. This is an experience I will never forget or stop talking about. We hired a driver who picked us up at our house and chauffeured us around wine country for the day. Prior to our trip, I debated on booking a group or private tour, and I don't regret my decision going the private route. We were able to choose where we wanted to go + enjoy on our own time. Plus we loved our driver, Jason! In addition to the wineries, I had to make a stop at Bouchon Bakery. I would love to go back with some girlfriends + stay in Yountville because it is goals.
- We started the day at Domaine Carneros. This gorgeous chateau + vineyard is known for their bubbly, and their owners are situated in the Champagne region of France (so you know it's gonna be good). They seat you at a private outside table to take in the beautiful atmosphere. The sparkling wines were very good, but the cheese plate featuring local Cali selections was heavenly!
- Our second stop was V. Sattui, another gorgeous vineyard with stone buildings and lush greenery. On the weekends, they have a nice barbecue, but it gets very crowded. The tasting was much less personable, but we still enjoyed the wines - enough that we bought a few bottles.
- The third winery we visited was Sterling Vineyards. They're known for their gondola that goes up the mountain overlooking the northern part of Napa Valley. The tasting included a self-guided walking tour of their property and the wine making process. The views were stunning, but we thought the wines were just okay.
- To round out our tour, we stopped at Castello di Amorosa. This is known as the "Disneyland of Napa Valley" because families bring their kids here to see the castle, so needless to say, it gets crowded. However, for as packed as it was, we still felt the tasting experience was very personable. Yen B., my Vietnamese counterpart, was our sommelier, and she was the absolute sweetest. We found a wine we really loved here, bought a couple, and prayed they made it back to WV in our luggage. Spoiler alert: They did.
We spent my husband's 28th birthday in San Francisco seeing + doing all the touristy things. We took a ferry over to Alcatraz and walked through their self-guided tour which was very interesting, ate at Fisherman's Wharf with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and took the Powell-Hyde cable car across the city.
As much as I wanted to road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, we just didn't have time for it this trip, so we took a quick hour-ish flight from Oakland to LA for the second part of our trip.