Travel

Napa Valley Wine Train

There is a train in Napa, CA where you can you eat fancy food and visit wineries. It is amazing. It is my new happy place.

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The Napa Valley Wine Train was the main event for my bachelorette festivities and it was absolutely perfect. Since most of the trains were built in 1915 and still retain a lot of the original decor I decided that period dress was appropriate. We went for a roaring twenties look because feathers and sequins are always classy. And our style went perfectly with the ambience of both the train and the depot. The depot was great fun because they have a wine shop where you can purchase wine for your trip. If you are visiting I suggest perusing the shop. They do charge a corkage fee to open wine on the train but if you buy the right bottle it ends up being cheaper to do it that way than to buy a bottle on the train. And we had the loveliest server pouring wine for us.

 

Leaving the depot you cross a love lock bridge to board the train. While love lock bridges have gained popularity in recent years they allegedly date back to a small serbian village at the beginning of World War I. And they definitely add to the old world vibe of train travel that Wine Train is going for.

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The train ride included a pre-fixe three course meal and wine for days. All of the food was spectacular and presented beautifully. But the setting was what really made it outstanding. The chairs had this lovely rich upholstery and the huge windows were richly draped. It felt like I was in the dining car of the Orient Express. All that was missing was Hercule Poirot solving a murder.

 

Our train took us to Grgich Hills Estate, which is run by the vintner responsible for the “Judgement of Paris” win in 1976. In a blind taste test Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay beat out the French Burgundy Chardonnay’s. This was a landmark win for American wine putting us above the level of French wine, which at the time was the gold standard. 2008’s Bottle Shock starring Chris Pine and the dearly departed Alan Rickman takes a lot of poetic license with this story but is definitely required viewing for any oenophile.

 

Our tour guide at the winery was astounding. he had so much energy and they had crafter the perfect tour that allowed to visit all the different aspects of the winery and tasting wine while we walked.

 

I had so much fun being all flapper sophisticated with my girls. It honestly is one of the best fashion eras. Getting ready in the morning was a whirlwind of hair curling, feathers, sequins, bold lips, pearl, tassels and mimosas. We also used a lot of nonsense roaring 20s lingo. I think my favorite phrase was “I’ve got legs that go all the way to the floor.” But honestly, look at these ladies! Don’t their legs go right down to the floor??

 

Grgich Hills Estate even lended some old world charm with perfect lighting in their barrel room and vintage racer that my friend, Phryne, posed elegantly against. We were not allowed to sit in the racer. And in the spirit of not getting thrown out we actually followed the rules.

 

I also have to say that they had really excellent crackers. You would be surprised the number of wineries I’ve been to with low quality or, gasp, no crackers.

 

After the winery we were back on the train to return to the depot. They were so nice and let us explore. We had a quick photo shoot on the caboose and along the corridors. It was definitely one of the most exciting parts of the adventure.

 

All in all it was the perfect event to celebrate my upcoming wedding. I love wine. I love my girlfriends. I love trains. I love the 1920s. I love Lloyd and am so glad he asked me to marry him so that I had an excuse to do all those things!

 

Travel

Napa, CA

Admission time: I’ve been planning my bachelorette party since I was a little girl. Probably for as long, if not longer than I have been planning my wedding. Like the imagined wedding of my youth it has gone through many revisions. But one thing was for sure, it would be filled with friends, food, drinks and very little sleep. In recent years I have developed a deep love affair with wine and wine related vacations. When I discovered the Napa Valley Wine Train I know that was the ideal destination for the festivities I had in mind. Luckily Lloyd proposed shortly thereafter and following many months of planning and anticipation Napa Girls’ Trip 2018 is in the books. And it was indeed filled with friends, food, wine and almost no sleep.

We rented the cutest little cottage/bungalow house just down a ways from Main Street, Napa. There were many homes on offer in the Napa Valley through AirBnB and VRBO. But we were a large group looking to stay more central since our main event was the Wine Train and this cozy space met our needs perfectly. We actually rented through HomeAway and the property itself can be found here. It was painted a rustic green that made me think of grapes and vines and was well appointed with plenty of sitting space (inside and out) as well as rather snugly beds. It had an easy to use and well maintained gas grill as well as an hot tub. Both of which we very much enjoyed. And the kitchen had everything we needed to put together a lovely meal. We even used some of the fresh lavender that was growing next to the house to make simple syrup, as well as some Meyer lemons from Ermentrude’s backyard.

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As wonderful as the kitchen and garden were the best part of this home was the gorgeous backyard with the aforementioned grill and hot tub. We spent one evening grilling meat and enjoying an homemade Mexican fajita bar and the next night in the hot tub drinking our bodyweight in Cava, Rose’ and West Coast Chardonnay.

The house had some really cute touches that I really enjoyed. The TV stand had a bowl of wine corks that people had signed and there was an adorable little fireplace in one corner. I really appreciated that they had plenty of pillows on the bed. When Lloyd and I sleep apart I make a Lloyd shaped pillow pile on my right side and pretend like it’s him. It’s not nearly hot, sweaty or snoring enough, but it does the trick!

If you ever have an evening free to spend with your girlfriends might I suggest a fajita bar? Make a couple of different dips and salsas, caramelize some peppers and onions, grill up your favorite meat and open many, many bottles of wine. Some people might ask why I skipped out on the classic margarita and to those people I say… tequila is a bad decision juice, that’s why. Even with sticking to wine I managed to forget to take pictures of the vast majority of the food we made that night including a tomato salsa, guacamole, a corn and black bean dip, caramelized red/orange peppers and onions, grilled chicken, steak and tortillas. Not mention a multitude of nibbly bits like almonds, cheese and crackers. And wine. Did I mention wine? So much wine.

My lovely ladies and most spectacular Maid of Honor, Olivia, really outdid themselves when it came to the decorating. There was glitter, bridal paraphernalia and male genitalia all over the place. I’ll keep the pictures of the naughty stuff off of here. But there were inflatables and straws and a world of other risqué items that had me blushing all night long!

Olivia even had shirts made for all my girls. Which was simply the best thing. She did a great job picking out shirts for people she had only ever heard me talk about. She is thoughtful and introspective that way. Also, etsy for the win! It was really fantastic having all these women I know from different walks of life under one roof. Having moved a lot for school and work I have a lot of close friends that live all over the country and the world (Australia, in particular). So I rarely get to see some of my nearest and dearest and most of them have never even met each other. It was a really special weekend for me watching all my best friends get to know each other!

I’ve been hemming and hawing trying to avoid crying while I write this. But I have to mention a special gift that Claire curated for me. In addition to being an excellent doctor and oenophile she is also a gifted scrapbooker. She got in touch with all the girls I invited to my bachelorette and asked them all to send in pictures of us together and fill out a little questionnaire she had put together. I read all the letters out loud and cried through all of them. It was one of the sweetest and most touching gifts I’ve ever gotten. Made more so by the inclusion of those friends who couldn’t make it. I couldn’t believe all the time and effort people so obviously put into answering Claire’s questions about our friendships. Their words and love touched the very cockles of my heart. And the whole thing proved exactly how much I need waterproof, air brushed, shellacked makeup for my wedding cause I can’t even type this paragraph without tearing up.

Every picture and page and letter included in this scrapbook makes me eyes well. This weekend taught me how important it is to cherish your friends and cultivate your friendships. All of these amazing women were in my life before Lloyd and helped me become the person he loves and wants to marry. They watched me stumble, grow, change and strive to become the woman I am today. They are my roots.