Wine Country Journal

Day 1 Wednesday, July 27  2016

San Francisco to Sonoma

I have never been to Northern California and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in person was breathtaking.  I took this picture as we were driving to Sausalito to eat lunch on the way to Sonoma.

Golden Gate Bridge...A view from the car
Golden Gate Bridge…A view from the car


There are multiple places to shop and eat right on the coast.  We ended up finding a cool Italian place that had gourmet pizza and good drinks that had a patio on the bay.  There was a Bocci court right on the bay as well, so of course we played then traveled onward to Sonoma.


Beach, Bocci and Pizza?? Yes, Please!


Dinner was on the Sonoma Square at El Dorado kitchen. We sat on the patio in perfect weather and had delicious food and wine.

Day 2 Thursday, July 28

10:30 Spottswoode Vineyard- Private tasting and tour

Spottswoode was our first winery and is a vineyard near St. Helena.  We started by taking a tour of the grounds of the home that the owner bought with her husband back in the 1940’s when they wanted to get out of the city with their four children and perhaps start a wine business.  The house is charming and beautiful and our guide, Nicole did a fantastic job telling us the family story and what goes into making each of the wines.

Outside of the owners home and vineyard


Stainless steel containers at the winery that control fermentation temperature.
The beautiful vineyards at Spottswoode on the owners estate.


Spottswoode had French Barrels. Our tour guide said French Barrels ran over 800.00 per barrel. WHAT?!!!! Wine is obviously expensive to make.
Patrick and I with a quick picture of the best smelling room!! French Oak and Cabernet…I’m telling you, it was divine!



We were able to sample three wines at this tasting. I loved the Sauvignon Blanc. The Cabernet was excellent as well.

Next stop: Rutherford Hill Winery




After trying several of their wines, the host showed us the  cave where they stored wine barrels.   It was the perfect temperature to store barrels….56 degrees.



Next was one of my favorite stops of the trip, a late lunch at Auberge du Soleil.  I had heard this was an excellent restaurant with the best view of Napa and I can confirm that it lives up to that reputation.  Our food and service were top notch and an experience that will be hard to top.

Cheers to Napa! The view from our table was beautiful.



Absolutely Beautiful!
The food was incredible. I am a sucker for seared tuna.
Fresh tomato and mozzarella
The house made gnocchi was the BEST!


We ended the day with a fun van ride home, singing our favorite tunes and stopping at a store off the side of the road that sold fresh salsa and home-made chips.  But first we met the owner of the Oakland Raiders at a bathroom pit stop.  They have training camp in Napa.


Can we be your new best friends, Mark Davis?



After chatting with some hotel guests when we returned, we were happy to find out the town of Sonoma was also celebrating their birthday in the town square with live music and food trucks.  We aren’t one to miss out on that, so we ended up skipping dinner and getting an uber to dance to the band and eat from the BEST food truck.


Having a lot of fun at Sonoma's birthday party.
Having a lot of fun at Sonoma’s birthday party.


My Poke Bowl and new Krave Hat. At the birthday party they had a Krave Beef Jerky stand and so I had to buy some to get the hat.
Not the best picture but I loved this bowl concept. It reminded me of Chipotle for Japanese food. YUM!!!!  I wish Kansas City had this!





Day 3 Friday, July 29

Caymus Vineyards private tasting and tour  img_0072

Our host Dennis was a retired man who hosted a couple of times a week for fun. He was excellent and I thought Caymus wine was AMAZING!!!! This Cabernet was my favorite.

After lunch we head to Silver Oak Vineyards….

In front of the image portrayed on the Silver Oak wine bottles.


sassy after a few glasses of wine tasting…..


The wine cellar full of unbelievable wines.
Patrick being ornery as usual…



This bottle was only 1,200…. 🙂


We ended the evening at a winery called Mumm’s which is a sparkling winery.  It was a vineyard that looked like it was out of a romantic movie.   I love Champagne and Prosecco so this was right up my alley.

Looks at all the champagne glasses!

Day 4- Saturday, July 30, 2016

Drive from Sonoma back to San Francisco

8 AM-Hike by the Golden Gate Bridge called The Coastal Trail

The trail was right above an old army base.





It was around 45 degrees when we started the hike and there were surfers! I can’t imagine how cold that water would be. They had wet suits on but their face was still exposed. brrrrrrrrrr


Patrick on one of the cliffs we hiked



climbing up another cliff but this one had stairs…..



there were a lot of stairs…..with the fog it looked like a stairway to heaven.


At the top of all of those stairs was a gun used to guard the Golden Gate Bridge during World War 2. It took about 35 men to operate and when they shot it, the impact would send their helmets flying.
The stairs led to the Battery Townsley



After the hike we have breakfast at Fred’s in Sausalito

For breakfast I ordered an egg white crab omelette with swiss cheese and chives. It was AMAZING!!!!
We were starving after the long hike so we yelped and found Freds. Glad we did because it was excellent.









We still were waiting for our hotel room to be ready so decided to go shopping in Ghirardelli Square and to the Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Fisherman’s Wharf had the BEST food stands. Just look at all the seafood. Clam Chowder in a Boudin sourdough bread bowl seemed to be the most popular choice, but all of it looked amazing.




Sea Lions hanging out by the bay.


After a quick shower we decided to check out Chinatown

Walking through the streets of Chinatown


We came across a store in Chinatown that made Dragon Beard candy. There were candy makers working so you could see in the windows and it was one of the strangest food preparations I have seen. We bought one for us and one for the kids to try. Surprisingly, they loved it!


A woman making dragon beard candy in the storefront window



The couple in front of us bought 8 boxes…must be a delicacy.

My new restaurant was in San Francisco as well; Lori’s Diner

I also found my namesake! Had to take a pic!

We finished the day with an amazing sushi dinner at Roka Akor where I tried several sashimi pieces that I had never had before.  Our friend is an expert in sushi as he goes to Asia with his company quite often.

It was of those days we packed it in and saw everything we could.  You can see my step tracker and know that we walked everywhere.

Woo hoo! Now I worked off all that wine, right?


The trip to Sonoma, Napa and the San Francisco area was amazing.  It was one of those trips that you are constantly in awe of the beauty around you and the people who make it happen.  

It was interesting learning about the long process that goes into winemaking and trying all the different wines.  I consider myself a foodie and was able to try so many dishes and unique food that I had never before!  The restaurants in Sonoma, Napa and San Francisco are just incredible.  The creativity and presentation that goes into the dishes were so well thought out, beautiful and exceptionally delicious.  

The best part was that all those new experiences were with Patrick.   With the hustle and bustle of being a mom with a husband who travels most weeks and works often, it was nice to get away and have some adult time.  

We hope to go back soon!

3 thoughts on “Wine Country Journal

  1. Lori, thanks for posting! love this, I’m headed for a girls trip to San Fran next Friday and we’ll be by the warf, you’ve got me hungry with the pics you posted! Glad you guys had fun, I love the Golden Gate bridge and the area around it, I’m hoping to walk the bridge while I’m there, an amazing area!

  2. haha, I was going to ask you about how to dress! 😉 fall clothes it is 🙂

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