6 days in San Francisco and Napa – A glimpse in to the life of a Wineblogger

sf6dayspinIn August I was invited by Napa Food and Vine to spend a week with them.  We’ve known each other for over decade (I’m dating myself here) and worked together previously on different projects. Never wine or food though.  Honestly when she told me that she was blogging about wine and food I thought she was a tad on the “nuts” spectrum.

That said I’ve always known her to know names of food I had no idea existed and a wine connoisseur she definitely is. So I thought well why not visit and see what it’s all about, I’m always up for an adventure and learning something new.

IMG_2610Let me just say I was greener than green, being someone who’s blogged for years about random things, I had no idea what it takes to focus on specific subjects like NFV does.  For instancedo you know that when ever this woman eats a meal anywhere we all have to wait for her to take multiple shots at different angles to get the right shot of what we are about to devour? Also the wine, the wine glass and all the settings of the table.  She’s serious and I quickly learnt that before any enjoyment comes work.  Even the cake had to wait… for those that know me, that was pure torture!

I was there for 6 days and every day was scheduled with wine tastings, restaurants and the odd scenic activity.  Before I go any further I need to admit that I have been to Napa once before, it was so fast I got a speed wobble, this time I really got to see more than I ever imagined possible of both San Francisco and Napa Valley.

The Week of madness

Day 1 – Arrive, eat delicious food and visit the glorious sunflower fields
Day 2 – San Francisco City
Day 3 – Napa Wine Train
Day 4 – Beringer and Sterling
Day 5 – Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel
Day 6 – Oakland Redwood Forest & Home

Heres a quick summary of the incredible week.  I’ll post more on each place and day as time goes on.

Day 1 – I have arrived!

I arrived on the sunny Monday afternoon and was whisked off to a beautiful restaurant called Skate on the Bay.

Skates on the Bay

Sitting on top of the water (stilts not sitting sitting), the huge glass windows over looking the bay, I fell in love with San Francisco right there and then.  Then came the Sushi and desert.  Holy moly, if the view wasn’t enough the food topped it a hundred times over.  I was off to a good start to a week.  I thought man if this is how good it’s going to be I’m going to be in heaven!

Fairfield Sunflower Field

I thought we were done after we’d stuffed our faces with sushi (ok and desert) but California Girl had other things in mind.  Knowing my intense love of sunflowers she decided to surprise me with an impromptu visit to a Sunflower Field in Fairfield.  If you’re ever visiting during August definitely take the drive out and experience this pure happy filled place!

Day 2 – San Francisco Baby!

Sorry, I’ve always wanted to say that. The next day we headed out first thing to catch the Ferry to San Francisco.  It was California Girls treat to her visiting South African “appie”.

San Francisco Ferry

The ferry was a treat alone, sitting watching the San Francisco bay pass us by while sipping the much needed caffeine was heavenly.  Seeing San Francisco itself approach was awe inspiring, what an incredible city so much like Cape Town I felt like I had come home.

San Francisco Trolly

We did the bus tour and got to see all the beautiful sights in and around San Francisco along with a delicious lunch at the Fishermans Wharf.  I also froze my butt off on the Golden Gate Bridge (62F/16C in the middle of summer!) and we finished it up with a delicious meal at the Park Tavern.

Day 3 – Hello Napa Wine Train!

Napa Wine Train

Next day another early start (these wine bloggers don’t sleep period) and we headed out to enjoy the  Napa Valley Wine Train Quattro Vino Tour. Holy mother of macaroni, the Wine Train is beyond elegant with its gourmet meal’s and wine samplings plus with the three stops along the route at the Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug and V.Sattui wineries both informative and fun!

Day 4 – Beringer and Sterling Wineries

Beringer Winery

Another early start and another adventure! Our day started with the Beringer Wineries “Taste of Beringer Tour” in St Helena (Yup this one I recognized yay me!).  What sets this one apart from all the other wine adventure filled wineries is their sensory garden.  For someone as green as me getting to understand and “refresh” my palette (oh so sounding like a wine blogger there) was definitely on the “much needed” scale of things.  I still question however how pavement and a bite of leather are delicious flavors.

Clif Winery Bruschetta Truck

After Beringer we made a quick stop at the food truck at Clif Family Bruschetta Truck.  The whole concept of gourmet food from a truck is a new one for me.  We ordered three (hey it was hard to choose) delicious options and devoured them while poor California Girl continued to try educate this plebb on the finer details of wine tasting and the intricate life of wine.

Our stomachs satisfied and mine suitably lined we headed off to Sterling Vineyards for the afternoon tasting, California Girl also wanted to see what Exciting changes were happening.  Yes, I recognized this one too and you should know thats a mean feat!  Sterling was yet another experience like none other, the views, the wine, the whole experience was amazing.  Did I mention they have a cable car??? Yup I kid you not.

Castello di Amorosa

On the way home, California Girl knowing my intense love of castles, made a surprise stop at the Castello di Amorosa.  A real life castle in Napa, the owner apparently loved castles as much as me so recreated one to the point of shipping the stones and shining armor over from Europe.  We didn’t do any wine tasting but took in the views, took selfies with said Shining armor and hung out with the roosters.

Day 5 – Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel Wineries

And on the 5th day California Girl allowed me to sleep in… a total of 5 minutes (generous right).  An early start was worth it though for we had an appointment at the Far Niente Winery.

Far Niente Winery

Driving up to it I felt like I was being transported into a European fairytale wonderland.  Heading through the gates I knew for certain that I had been magically transported!  This has to be hands down one of the most beautiful wineries I have ever been to (and by day 5 that was many).  Coupled with the incredible wine it was a morning of heaven filled sensory delights!

After Far Niente we zoomed off to Nickel & Nickel Winery down the road.  They were setting up for a huge charity function but it didn’t diminish the old world elegance and beauty that could be found where ever the eyes wondered.  I felt like I had landed in a western I kid you not!  Apart from their wines, which were delicious, they have a wealth of history and incredible cellars.

Day 6 – Oakland Redwood Forest & Home

Oakland Redwood Forest

Sadly my final day had come and it was time to pack up my bags and say good bye to a place that reminded me so much of home. The Brit and California Girl were kind enough to take me for a last minute meal and Broderick Roadhouse and then off to the Redwood forest in Oakland. It’s always been a bucket list item to see them, put my hands on their huge trunks and just take in the incredible age of these majestic giants.

Over the next few weeks I’ll write more on my adventurous days in and around Napa and San Francisco. I can tell you it was filled with much laughter, a few tears, a broken camera and a very blue swollen foot (I still stand by it happening before wine though).


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