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.

wine

Williamsburg Winery

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I think it’s time I start writing about wine as I promised I would. I’m going to start off with an easy one. Easy because we go to the The Williamsburg Winery often and are wine club members here. We love this winery so much that Lloyd and I are getting married there in December.

 

Every quarter we get a selection of three wines in a cute little carrying case and each month we have four free reserve tastings. These tastings are excellent. They are in a little back room and include a drier selection of wines. I really enjoy the more intimate setting of the backroom tasting. Chief among those reasons is the fact that members get to sit and it’s nice to have that option. The membership also came with a very nice discount on our wedding, so a total win-win.

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If you are ever in Williamsburg and a lover of dry red wine you owe it to yourself to make a visit to this Winery and do the Reserve Tasting. Just look at that list of wine. The real stand outs are the two Malbecs at the end. The 2013 Apogeo is the first 100% Malbec that Williamsburg Winery has put out. And the second, the 2015 Reflective, is from their sister winery, A16, in Argentina. You can see that they scored very well in Wine Enthusiast, and the scores are justly deserved.

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Of course this is just a small selection of their wine. There are many other tastings and tours available. Including one that ends in the notorious cellar wine jail. There are also two different restaurants on premises the Gabriel Archer Tavern and the Cafe Provencal. The Tavern serving more American style fair like this roast beef sandwich. Also you can combine tours with pre fixe menu deals at the tavern.

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The Cafe focuses on French cuisine of a more haute variety. It’s a little pricier but their is also an option for a tasting menu coupled with a tour for a very reasonable price. The food and the service when we have eaten here has been amazing. I only took a few picture because I couldn’t be bothered to delay myself or the people I was with.

 

I want to give a special mention to the onsite hotel, The Wedmore Place. It was built ten years ago in the fashion of a french chateau. It oozes old-world charm, absolutely oozes. Each room is uniquely appointed and named after a different of old work Europe; Bavaria, Killarney, Andalusia, Champagne, Veneto, to name a few. I have visited the premises many times and seen inside a number of the rooms but have not spent the night there…yet. We will be staying there for our wedding weekend so expect a much more detailed blog post when that time comes. And maybe a word or two on the wedding itself. In the meantime I leave you with a picture of this lovely wine wall.

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