As if to disprove the point I made to Paul in the last post!! Anyway, the bad pun is because this post is about my weekend in Napa. I hired a car in SF on Friday and have to admit I was thinking to myself, what am I doing? I’m in SF with a free weekend – why am I heading somewhere else??!! But I’m really glad I did, because I had a lovely weekend. It started with a gorgeous drive – once over the Golden Gate Bridge (eek!) I headed up the coast road to Point Reyes – a totally gorgeous drive, then across to Petaluma and down to Napa. The B&B, Beazley House, was lovely. My room was small but comfortable and the house had a sitting room with cookie jar and sherry decanter! They also hosted a wine-tasting, which was great, as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go out and do any tasting as I was driving. Had a really nice Cabernet Franc from the Peju winery. Then I headed down to the American Centre for Food, Wine and the Arts (COPIA) for their Friday flick, which was a documentary about Frank Gehry, directed by Sydney Pollack. Gehry is designing a winery building in Napa, and the owners were there to talk about their experience and show a short film about it. A great evening, really different. Gehry is amazing and it was fascinating to get an insight into how he works – literally with cardboard and scissors at the early stages! They also showed a trailer for a film I will look out for, called Gypsy Caravan about Gypsy music across the world.
The next day I took some stuff to UPS and pottered around, then left to go and meet Jackie and Omar for lunch. I decided to stop at the Napa Premium Outlet Village on the way, but it’s kind of hidden from the road so went sailing by and out into the country. Along a beautiful road which unfortunately ended in a dead end (contrary to what was on the map!) So I turned round and on the way back found the Outlet! One trip to Gap later, I headed up Highway 29 for lunch. People told me about how many of wineries are along Highway 29 and it makes it sound really soul-less and commercial, but it wasn’t like that. The “highway” is like an A-road in the UK and the places all seemed very nice.
We had a lovely lunch at a place called Mustards, then Jackie and Omar headed off to a winery and I went to…the Jelly Belly factory!!! VERY EXCITING! We toured the factory (not operational of course as it was the weekend, but interesting nonetheless) and even better, bought stuff in the store – much cheaper than usual purchase of Jelly Bellies! Unfortunate side effect is that I’ve been eating too many of them since!
I decided to find a non-freeway drive back, but once again my map told me a road was there that wasn ‘t, so I had to do the main road thing. But I did work out how to get the GPS to avoid motorways, which was very useful the next day. That evening I went to a place called Uva and had a very nice meal sat at the bar, with two very different and very nice California wines and a sweet sparkling dessert wine from Italy.
The next day I was off, after the lovely Beazley House breakfast. I had decided to take a longer route avoiding motorways and I’m so glad I did, as it took me through all these little California towns, the sort of places that John Hughes films are set in! It also took me through the streets of San Francisco, which had its little frantic moments, but I arrived safe and sound at the airport for my flight to Philadelphia. After about 5 hours flight, I was back in Philadelphia! Kind of nice to come into somewhere that seems familiar, a pre-feeling for next Saturday! I’m so looking forward to going home!