I Run For Wine
When you run a marathon in Napa (and obnoxiously showcase your medal to everyone you meet), you’d be amazed at how much free wine you can sample.
The first winery that we headed to was Rustridge Ranch. Pretty much every winery I’ve ever been to in Napa has either a pet named after the wine, or a wine named after the pet. Pinot from the Rustridge Ranch was particularly friendly with me during our visit. Rustridge was one of the handful of wineries represented at the pre-race Expo, where Eric and I fell in love with their Zinfandel 2009 Reserve. It was love from first (second and third) sip, so we ended up buying a whole case. I was able to bargain half off the price which sealed the deal.
Casa Nuestra was recommended to us at the Brannan Cottage, but their wines made no impression on me. We ended up buying a bottle just get the tasting fees waived. Once again, marathon medal came in handy as I got to try both the regular and the reserve flights.
We headed back to Calistoga for dinner at the All Seasons Bistro. This place is a local gem – fresh continental style cooking with an award winning chef and reasonable prices ($20-$25 per plate). We got to the restaurant way early, so we passed the time at a wine store across the street with some other marathoners (who had done way more wine tasting, judging by their loud laughter, happy faces and slurring words).
Under normal circumstances, I would have no problems handling 3 wine tastings, but since I spent most of my morning in the sun, running and sweating, I had to get my dinner (roasted duck on a bed of lentils with oranges and turnips) to go. I was too full of wine to finish it– a very rare occurrence for a girl who can polish off half a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats for dessert).
Please excuse the blurry photos. In the midst of my drinking I forgot to turn off the macro mode on the camera.
Calistoga is so small, it took us 5 minutes to walk back to our hotel where I happily passed out. You can only imagine how marvelous I felt the next morning? Sore, thirsty and starving. Good thing there was a delightful breakfast waiting for me in the main area of the Brannan Cottage.
The cold duck made for a nice snack an hour later. Afterwards, I treated myself to a long whirlpool session and a massage at a nearby Spa. I lucked in with the message therapist who specialized in sports conditioning and injury prevention. I wish I could say he made me feel as good as before the race. He did a marvelous job, but anyone who has run a marathon knows it takes at least two weeks to stop walking down the stairs backwards.
For lunch, we headed to Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet, which is considered to be the best drive-in ever and was featured on the food network a couple of times. No matter the time of day, there are at least a dozen people lined up at the cashier’s window.
After lunch, it was time to check out some more wineries. One of our favorites was Vincent Arroyo. We got a private tour from the owner himself and sampled wines directly from the barrels with a nifty device called the thief.
Their wines are so popular that you you can only purchase them 6 months in advance. We were lucky that they had some of their red blend bottles available, named after their cat – Nameless.
There was just one more winery for us to stop by – Bella. The entire winery is set up in a large cave. Since our suitcase was already filled with wine, we did not end up buying any at Bella, but the experience of drinking wine in a candlelit cave next to large oak barrels was super cool.
We spent the last vacation night at Sonoma Hilton hotel thanks to the groupon and my impeccable deal-hunting skills. All this wine tasting left me pretty hungry. Right in time for the Happy Hour: calamari, sweet potato fries (can never have enough of those), turkey sliders, pita with hummus, and a few spicy wings.
Some people come to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
I come for the golden crispy pastry tubes filled with sweet ricotta cream and a perfect amount of chocolate chips. There was no way I was leaving San Francisco without my favorite cannoli from Caffe Greco in Little Italy.
Get in my belly!
I must really love my husband as I willingly offered to share one of these treasures with him.
After a great few days of sunshine and deliciousness, it was time to head back home for a nice long recovery.