A day with friends in Napa Wine Country

One thing I love about my job is that I am allowed to work a flex schedule  (four 10-hour days and three-day weekends, booyah!) and that this also affords me the option to shift my day off around with my supervisor’s permission. 

So, a couple of weeks ago, I shifted my day-off to Wednesday (and worked Friday instead) to be able to take advantage and see some dear East Coast friends that were traveling in California for the week.

They were staying in the Sonoma/Napa Valley area on Tuesday and Wednesday and since this about an hour’s drive from here, we decided to meet up with them for the day.

Caryn and I have known each other since the old blogging days and met in person for the first time when we both attended BiSC in Vegas in 2013

We saw each other a few times after that, once when she came to California to meet up with me in Los Angeles for the weekend, one more time when she came with her then-boyfriend Joe to hang out for a few days in SoCal while they were traveling, and a third time when I flew to D.C. last year to attend their wedding.

J hadn’t met either of them yet, but I knew that he would instantly connect with both of them. They’re just awesome, easy-going and funny people.

So we headed out to Napa instead of work on a Wednesday morning to meet them at one of the gazillion wineries. They had arrived via Uber from their hotel, so we were able to pick them up and conveniently spend the day driving around with just one car. 

We headed to Dean and DeLuca in St. Helena to get some sandwiches first. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed when we got to the store, because the previously vibrant, packed retail space appeared downsized and empty. (I googled it later and it seems like the company is struggling and downsizing. I had no idea. It would be a shame if they closed this store, too.)

After acquiring lunch, we headed over to V. Sattui Winery for our first wine tasting. 

Afterwards, we visited the Castello di Amorosa Winery further north. I had never been there and I am glad we got to see it. This medieval inspired Tuscan castle is beautiful.

I was a little peeved when we found out that they charged $30 admission fee for J, who wasn’t drinking, but then claimed that they had to charge the admission because ‘the wine was FREE’. Yeah, right. Not a good business strategy in my book to charge someone 30 bucks to watch other people drink, but hey, I guess they don’t care about people who drive themselves to wine tasting. (Where are the big bus touring groups?)

We did pay it and we did have a nice experience overall. The castle is amazing and the wine tasting (including chocolate) was amazing, but the admission charge left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. 

Moving on.

We made it to one more winery, Napa Cellars, after that to take advantage of their complimentary cheese board. Joe and Caryn came well prepared and had an app that told them which wineries had 2 for 1 wine tasting deals and/or other special perks.  We hung out there for a while, played some cornhole and then eventually left for (the city of) Napa.

We took a nice walk along the newly updated Riverfront and then grabbed some dinner at “Stone Brewing Napa”.

I tried to order a ‘Radler’ (beer with Sprite – very common in Germany, basically the same as a shandy) but they denied me. They said that they couldn’t ruin the experience of the beer by mixing it with a soda. So,  I ordered a beer and soda separately and told him I would “ruin my experience myself then”.  

We had a delicious dinner and then took Caryn and Joe back to their hotel in Sonoma before heading back home. 

I am so, so glad we made this day happen. #winebeatsworking

It was really great to see our friends again (and for J to finally meet them both!) and I hope we can get together somewhere, sometime soon again.

  1. Gosh that is odd that the restaurant wouldn’t make a raddler for you… You clearly knew what you were asking for an knew you would like it.

    That $30 fee for a non-drinker would have left a bad taste in my mouth as well! Sheesh!

    Sounds like a fun day all in all, though, and it’s nice that you were up there during an off-peak day of the week! I’m guessing the weekends are busier and the traffic getting up there can be worse!

  2. That sounds like the most fun day! How awesome you can be flexible with your work schedule when it makes sense to move your day off around. I am lobbying for a trip to Napa for our 15th wedding anniversary in 2021, so I’ll have to remember some of these things you did!

  3. I can’t handle snobby beer people, lol. Just make the Radler, people! Argh. How annoying. Also, v annoying that there isn’t a separate admission price for non-drinkers. That is insane that he had to pay the same price even though he wasn’t drinking wine! Come on, now.

    I would *love* a flex schedule like that. Having an extra day off during the week would be SO nice!

  4. I can’t believe they charged him to go it and not drink! But Im glad that it was at least a very beautiful castle. And the mountains in the background…ahhh. We have hills here but nothing like that! Im so glad you were able to take the time off because it looks like despite a few bumps it was a great visit!

  5. Ha, how funny – I didn’t realized, when you told me about the $ 30.00 J had to pay even though he wasn’t drinking, that this was exactly the place we had the same experience at, about 2.5 years ago.
    Had to laugh out loud when reading you had to ruin your beer experience yourself – #sanforthewin

  6. Das sieht nach einem tollen Tag aus! Schon super, wenn man so flexibel den freien Tag schieben kann. Ich habe einen super Arbeitgeber, wo das vermutlich auch gehen würde, wenn ich einen Tag frei hätte. *g* Das mit den 30.- ist ja schon sehr übertrieben für jemanden der dann keinen Wein trinkt. Und das mit dem Bier ist ja fast schon eine Frechheit, aber du hast es geschickt gelöst. :) Hätte ich wohl auch so gemacht.

  7. OMG, you crack me up! I love that you “ruined the experience yourself” by creating your own Radler, BUAHAHAHAHHA!!! You go, San! PS: that’s how my family always drinks their beers in Germany, and I imagine it’s quite refreshing! Too bad they charged admission to the person in your group who wasn’t even drinking :( Seems silly and a bad PR move, but what do I know? I love all of your photos, and so glad you were able to catch up with your old friend again and have them meet your beau! <3

    1. So glad to hear someone else can appreciate the refreshing concoction that is a Radler! :)

  8. Sounds like a fun day overall. But it is weird that some people that crazy rules and will not budge. I guess they can’t control the admission fee and once it gets out too many people sneak in. But you could find ways to identify the people who payed full price like with a stamp or a bracelet.
    Hoover you got to spend time with friends and that’s a win.

Comments are closed.