A friend had the opportunity to stay in a house smack dab in the middle of the Tudal winery in St. Helena. Due to some unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances, the people who were supposed to stay with her were unable to do so. So, she invited a group of friends to join her, and I was lucky enough to be included.
See, in San Francisco, summer really isn't summer-like. It is cold, foggy, and sometimes a little dreary. If you drive 10 miles North, East, or South, you can often see a 10 or more degree increase in temperature over what it is in San Francisco. Now, don't get me wrong - I LOVE San Francisco. But, I have to admit the fog, wind, drizzle, and cold get to me now and then, and it is so lovely to enjoy some warmth and sunshine sometimes.
We arrived at the house and took a look around. 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, giant kitchen, giant living room, and an amazing pool overlooking the vineyards.
We were pretty much in awe. It was warm, sunny, and absolutely beautiful.
We put our things in the bedrooms, opened a bottle of wine and sat out by the pool for a bit.
Stop #1 was Trinchero winery. We enjoyed a tasting of 4 wines (plus an additional reserve wine not on the menu) outside on a picnic table on the beautiful winery grounds. Our tasting leader, Mike, was very knowledgeable and showed us a grand time.
The wines there were super yummy, and many of us made some purchases. We were wowed by the grounds and lovely landscaping. I spied lots of bees busy pollinating, some beautiful butterflies, and overall gorgeous foliage.
After finishing up at Trinchero, we moseyed on over to Frank Family Vineyards. There, yet again, we encountered absolutely lovely grounds, and also quite a wait for the tasting room.
Using our powers of persuasion, we were able to have the tasting come out to us. Because the tasting room was so crowded, the tasting guy brought wine out to us on the patio.
Now, I'm not a big fan of chardonnay. But, the chardonnay at Frank Family Vineyards was AH-MA-ZING. We all made purchases at this winery before rushing back to Tudal for our 3pm private tasting. We brought out a platter of cheese, crackers, and salami, and devoured it while thoroughly enjoying the tasting lead by Doug. This was one of the BEST tastings I've ever had. Doug had a lot of knowledge and stories to share over many amazing wines.
We also got to take a walk into the vineyard and taste some grapes right off of the vine. Literally. AH-MA-ZING! I think that was the highlight of the tour for me (aside from the lovely wines and wonderful company).
Now, we needed a place to go for dinner. Earlier in the day we called many places to try and get a reservation for 7 people with not a lot of success. A few places had reservations, but we weren't keen on eating at 4:30pm nor 9:45pm, nor driving too far to the restaurant. We took one reservation at 9pm, and were planning to try to work our magic to get in earlier.
So, around 6pm, we started calling some places back to see if there were any cancellations so we could eat prior to 9pm. And, indeed there was! Tra Vigne said they could seat us at 6:45pm. I've never seen 7 girls get ready for dinner so quickly.
We made it and were seated right away. Randomly 2 other friends were in St. Helena wine tasting, and were able to join us for dinner. I don't know about everyone else, but I thought dinner was pretty delicious.
We had a mouth-watering mozzarella / bread / heirloom tomato appetizer.
And, I couldn't resist trying the oreo cookie gelato.
After a leisurely and delicious dinner, we headed back to the house on the vineyard. As we were piling out of the cars, one girl said, "Look up - stars!" We all paused and tilted our heads up and saw thousands of brilliant, sparkling stars in the pitch black sky.
We decided to do a little laying-out under the stars. My camera couldn't really capture the beauty of looking up and seeing various sized silver glitter (stars) twinkling in the night sky. Wow. Living in San Francisco, there is a lot of light pollution, and a lot of the aforementioned fog - both diminishing the ability to see stars so clearly.
What a spectacular end to an amazing day. We sat around and talked and laughed for a while under the stars before going to sleep.
It was slightly unnerving at first to undress and begin taking a shower not in a traditional shower. But, WOW, it was pretty amazing to shower in open air being doused in warm water.
I would love to have one of these at my house (when I eventually own a house). I don't think my landlord would take kindly to me fashioning an outdoor shower on the fire escape outside my apartment... Wishful thinking...
As we drove back into San Francisco, we encountered the unfortunate but inevitable fog-bank. It sunk in that this spontaneous, spectacular, and sparkly weekend was just about over. Sad.
I'm sure we will have another one equally as fun, sunshiny, warm, and sparkly sometime soon!
Thanks girls for a sparkly weekend - love you all!!