Thursday, April 26, 2018

TBT--travel addition

Another installment of throwback travel edition.
This time, I felt like returning to California.  I so love it there.  The focus of this edition is Napa Valley.  I have spent some time in Los Angeles, Temecula, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Paso Robles.  I would like to say that I love them all, equally, but I don't know if that is possible.  The wine regions associated with San Francisco hold a special place in my heart.  And, of course, I am enticed by the central coast wineries as well.  I mean, my namesake winery is located there.  Population 18 is the town of Harmony, California. I have visited there a few times and sampled the wine.  If you are driving along that stretch of road, stop in and try the chardonnay.  It is right by the Hearst Mansion.  I discovered it while on a road trip in 2006.  Of course, I had to stop and take a few photos and drink wine.
Back to the travel edition...This is from my last trip to Napa Valley.  I convinced my friend, Sara Jo, to run the Napa to Sonoma half marathon.  It's part of the wine destination series and is their flagship race.  The registration fills up within twenty minutes.  I am not kidding!  I tried for a few years to get in to this race and finally succeeded.  Of course, we had run the Healdsburg Half and the Santa Barbara Half Marathon.  I think being in their system increased our odds of finally registering for this race.  I think I became interested in the race as it was listed as a marathon bucket list.  It combined two of my favorite loves--wine and travel.  Running could motivate me to be healthy.  Moderately, mostly.  I did manage to train while living in Santa Fe.  I lived next to a paved running trail that was perfect.

This is us, post race.  Great expo with lots of opportunities to check out wine and celebrate life.  The race takes place in July and we were a little concerned about the weather.  I do not love running when it is hot.  I tend to overheat.  Thankfully, it  was an overcast day.  Ideal for running 13.1 miles.  Conveniently, they do have a Guinness stop at one of the mile markers and a gewürztraminer is available in front of Gundlach Bundschu winery.  On another trip to California, I toured this winery and have fond memories of that experience.  I have always been an avid fan of their wines.  So, imagine how ecstatic I was to sample their wine while running?  It was motivating and fueled my half marathon.  We met Jen (Sara's friend) and the Goddess at the finish line.  I think a bloody mary was involved somewhere as it tends to be a post race must.  I really should consider finding a race, locally, if only to have a reason to toast the effort with a bloody mary afterwards.
We were fortunate to stay at this property located in south Sonoma.  Benziger Estate winery has one of the best tours available.  They have an organic, biodynamic winery and explain how they utilize and reuse everything in their property.  They are knowledgeable and informative without coming across as know it alls or snobby.  I would definitely recommend their tour for anyone that is not familiar with the wine making process.  The landscape is stunning.  I was fortunate to arrange a stay in their guest home.  This view is incredible.

We did the tour and sampled some of the wines on Saturday when we arrived in Napa.  It was a quick tour before having dinner at Oenotri restaurant.  I like tapas and love sharing meals with friends.  Tapas enables me many items to try and share.  We settled in to the house and had an early night. I wanted to be able to wake with ease in the a.m. and run the miles.  
 Of course, no trip to Napa would be complete without a little wine tasting.  I think this was stop #3 of the day.  Miner Vineyards along the Silverado Trail.  Lovely chardonnay that I drink on a fairly regular basis at a spot in Denver.  This was our final day in wine country before heading back to the city.  I thought I would have enough time to stop by the Buena Vista for an Irish coffee.  Our chauffer, the Goddess, had to alter her return flight and so that did not happen.  Next time for sure.
In all, we toured Benziger, Imagery, Alpha Omega, Ferrari Carano, Miner, Grgich Hills and a few others in Healdsburg.  I told the ladies would be dining at Scopa in Healdsburg. I insisted that we wait for an available table or belly up to the bar.  I loved the fare at their restaurant.  I wish I had some photos to share of the food factor their.  Our final night in Sonoma we dined at another tapas place that was not memorable.  I should have researched better to provide another food associated experience.
I think I did okay touring the valley.  Of course, I would have loved to have had more time.  I like to criss cross both spots but know with the driving it limits multiple spots.  Also, I would recommend hiring a driver to safely guide you through the valley.  There are too many wineries to sample.  So pick two to three a day if you are driving and space them out.  Find a picnic area and buy a baguette and relax.  Even that is welcoming and blissful in Napa and Sonoma.  Sorting through photos and thinking about past trips is inspiring me to book a ticket to northern California and make it happen.  I do want to return to wine country.  This trip is overdue and I must rectify that!
It probably won't involve a half marathon unless I actually put one foot in front of the other in the next month.  I have the next few months planned out in terms of travel.  Visiting in the fall is a definite possibility.  Harvest is a lovely time of year to visit.  A great energy of wine, family, sharing, creating memories is possible.  I am thinking about it.  I wonder if I can convince one of my friends to join me.
Til next week for the travel throwback, cheers!!!

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