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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bay Area Trip (Day 3)

FRIDAY, Day 3, we woke up to a dark and rainy day in the Bay Area. After picking up our rental from Hertz (we got a Nissan Extera), we debated about what to do that day. Our original plan was to head for the Sonoma and Napa region but with the pouring rain, we did the next best thing. We went to the Napa Valley Factory Stores. I mean what is better than spending a rainy day, shopping in an outlet, on the day after Thanksgiving (biggest sale of the year!).

It was about an hours drive to Napa and when we got to the outlets we started with brunch at the only place to eat – the Food Court. It was not exactly the brunch dreams are made of – but after quick slices of pizza and calzones, we were off to do some shopping!

We went our separate ways and agreed to meet at 2:30 pm by the Food Court. That meant we had about 3 hours. My outlet shopping strategy is usually to just go to the stores I know I like (even if they are located in different areas) and if there is any time left over to backtrack and walk through other stores. I know I waste a lot of time zigzagging across the parking lot to go to different shops, but really this strategy has always worked for me. This time I visit Ann Taylor, Nine West, Liz Claiborne, Coach, and DKNY. (FYI, Napa does not have a huge outlet so it is manageable in 3 hours). I ended up buying a few things for myself and a few things for my sisters back home. But it wasn’t a total shopping spree since the things I really liked were not on sale, the stores that had bigger sales were horribly full, and I kept thinking about the one lowly suitcase I had back in the hotel and how I would have to make everything fit.

At around a quarter to 2, I walk by the Food Court meeting place and of course my dad and hubby are sitting there waiting for us. Very typical of them to be all done with shopping way before our time is up. By around 2:30 we regroup, load up all our packages in the car, and find that the weather has surprisingly cleared, so we head over to the vineyards for wine-tasting.

After driving through the Oakville Grocery, the St. Helena Olive Oil Company and rows and rows of vineyards, we stop at the V. Sattui vineyards in St. Helena. This has always been my favorite vineyard along Highway 29 (Napa’s main road). V. Sattui has picnic grounds, vineyards and wine cellar tours, a deli and cheese shop, and wine tasting rooms. It’s literally a one-stop place for all things Napa. Once inside, my dad and brother head over to the wine tasting room, while mom and I browse the deli and cheese shop. My hubby went walking around the grounds. After about an hour of browsing and sampling, we had a picnic basket filled with goodies and we all headed outdoors towards the picnic grounds.

It turned out to be a beautiful day. Bright (but not too sunny), cool, crisp air, and everything smelling like nature. We sat at a picnic table that overlooked miles and miles of vineyards and all around us were fallen leaves that crunched when you walked on them. There were farmhouses in the horizon and you could see children playing in the gardens beside us. It was truly picturesque. For our picnic we had a loaf of French bread, a really good goat cream cheese with artichokes, a block of Dubliner cheese, duck-liver pate (yum!), and a bottle of white wine. We also had cartons of very garlicky garlic mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, huge prawns with a mustard-based dressing, and sausage lasagna from the deli.

It was really a beautiful setting and I could have stayed there all day. But pretty soon, the sun was setting and the cool and crisp air started turning cold. That was our cue to head inside to the shops and of course load up on pasalubong (marinated olives, chocolate caramel apple sauce, lemon aioli vinaigrette, and biscotti) for back home.


jol said...

The wine tasting at Napa Valley resembles that at the Hunter Valley. You get a chance to taste the different varieties of wine and find out why some are more fruity or sweeter than others. But we are all agreed that the Riesling was the best for us. It was an unforgettable experience, made more memorable by the warm company.

jml said...

I have only read and heard of Napa till this visit enabled me to see for myself all that I've heard and read about. It definitely lives up to its fantastic reputation as a place of great natural beuty and worth a second visit and more exploration.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! »