Though Napa Valley is just a little over an hour’s drive from where I live, I’ve only been there a handful of occasions. My visits are usually spent in a crowded wine cellar, elbow to elbow with other wine lovers and tourists from near and far for an unforgettable glass-swirling educational wine tasting experience. How’s the body, length, and finish? And what about those legs? Yes, I’m still talking wine here.
Recently, I had the opportunity to experience Napa in a more relaxed way. Buick invited a group of us on a getaway to wine country. I grabbed a girlfriend and packed my bags for the mini road trip! The day was gorgeously sunny for a leisurely drive in our Buick LaCrosse, and we took full advantage of the moonroof to relish in a piece of the cloudless blue sky.
Kenzo Estate Winery is nearly as big as the city of San Francisco, and with their higher than your average vineyard elevation, they even boast a cool mild microclimate that is reminiscent of Fog City as well. The drive into the estate feels exclusive – after entering the gate, we drove down a one mile stretch of winding road surrounded by a tranquil fortress of trees as we approached the property. We were greeted with a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc, the only white wine that they produce. It was light and refreshing, especially after a long drive, but I’m more inclined towards whites more than reds anyway. The beautifully lit wine cellars had a distinct sweet smelling aroma as we entered, providing a relaxed ambiance despite the cool temperature drop. Best fun factoid on the wine tour? The tunnels were designed and constructed by the same folks who did the tunnels for our public transit system (BART) – only there are no delays here unless it means I need to wait a minute too long for a refill of vino.
Next stop on our drive was nearby Yountville, a quaint little town known for their exclusive dining experiences. Boasting the most Michelin-rated restaurants per capita (book at least two months out for The French Laundry), this is certainly a place that’ll cost more than a pretty penny. Window shop at cute boutiques with wine themed everything you don’t need, then take a stroll outside to enjoy Yountville’s many outdoor sculptures as a part of their art walk – perfect for the little ones to climb on while you get your drink on (not in public, of course).
I eventually worked up a sweet tooth for some, je ne sais quoi. Well, when you’re in Yountville, one of four locations where the famed Bouchon Bakery has their store front, the decision is easy. It was my first time having the macarons there, and what can I say, c’est délicieux!
With gourmet options abound, deciding what to order can be more of a chore than a pleasant experience. If indecision’s your middle name, then the chefs at Two Birds, One Stone’s got your back. Their omakase style menu means the chef will choose the best selection of plates for the night – so just sit back and enjoy the dishes as the come, each one a surprise! Self-described as “California-inspired yakitori,” the dishes are a perfect blend of east meets west. Many of the flavors I’m used to in Asian cuisine were infused with freshly plucked ingredients that so typify the Californian food movement. My favorite was the black kale salad with chicken and the radishes with goat milk butter. It was definitely a case of my eyes > stomach, for I was too full from the delectable appetizers by the time the wagyu short ribs were served. Just a spoonful of dessert sealed the deal – their coconut milk panna cotta with passion fruit curd is lightly sweet with a hint of tartness; I especially loved how the creamy texture juxtaposed with the crisp rice pearls dusted with a hint of matcha. There’s always room for dessert in my book!
We retreated back to Bardessono Hotel and Spa where we checked in earlier. With separate quads and suites spaced out in a minimalist zen-like layout, I found myself in a calm and reflective oasis. It’s the perfect place to unplug by the fire pit with a glass of wine, or to take a dip – or at least get your toes wet – in their rooftop pool. But if you’re like me and forget to bring a bathing suit, well the suites have ample room to relax in with all the amenities a girl could wish for and more. After a long day of driving, wining, and dining, it didn’t take long for me to catch some z’s.
Stay tuned for day two of my mini road trip!