I have a lot of nostalgic memories for California’s wine region, having visited Napa and Sonoma virtually every year before moving to Hong Kong. From covering the Almost Famous Chef Competitions to media and business trips, I feel like I know the region really well.
But obviously the pandemic put a halt to all travel for close to 2 years. Living in Hong Kong made it even harder to visit. So, when Bryan said he had a work conference in Napa in the fall of 2021, I immediately told him I really wanted to come along.
I’m so thankful it worked out! We caught up with some of our close friends in the Bay Area and even attended a black tie gala (first time in 8 years). I had to rush out and buy a last minute dress!
The fall colors were stunning this time of year, and we savored some magnificent wines and food.
We stayed at the Silverado Resport & Spa, and spent quiet mornings jogging along the beautiful golf course.
I didn’t expect to see such beautiful foliage in Napa Valley, but we arrived during peak season to stunning colors everywhere. Recent rains also brought green hills, which was unusual this time of year.
It’s been over 10 years since we ate at The French Laundry and wandered around its impeccable garden. This time we re-visited the newly renovated space (just to take a look) and walked around the garden again. The garden feels pretty similar, though the new building looks amazing. Fall season means there were pumpkins!
My best friend (and roommate) from college drove up from San Francisco to meet me for lunch. We enjoyed great conversation and lunch overlooking expansive views of vineyards at The Bistro at Auberge du Soleil.
I really think the tasting menu at Robert Sinskey Vineyards is a hidden gem in Napa. I’d never heard of it, but a friend treated us to a fantastic meal there. The food is excellent, the space is beautiful, and the wines are delicious. We took a quick tour of the winery beforehand, which was informational and fun.
Other great food memories include fantastic seafood at Hog Island Oyster, rustic French food at Angèle Restaurant, excellent wine and food at Compline Wine Bar and Restaurant, and my favorite TKOs from Bouchon Bakery. We enjoyed a fantastic steak at Valley Bottle and Bar in Sonoma (in the former Harvest Moon location). We got our Pliny the Elder fix when we got wind that the Marriott in Napa serves it on tap. We made a quick stop, sat at the hotel bar, and enjoyed a glass of our favorite West Coast beer.
We had a ”it’s a small world” moment when we learned that the our server at Compline used to live in Boston and was good friends with our restaurant friends at Bergamot.
Finally, we learned about the history of two wineries: Stag’s Leap and Stags’ Leap, and how an apostrophe makes all the difference.
One Unfortunate Event
We did hit a snafu during the San Francisco portion of our trip. Thieves broke into our rental car (smashed our windows in broad daylight!) and stole our luggage.
Thankfully we were safe and we weren’t in the car. We spent a frantic day reporting to the police and re-buying critical items before our flight (the next day!) to Europe. Miraculously, a good Samaritan spotted our bags later that day and turned them into the police. Although all the valuables had been picked clean, we at least recovered the bags, some IDs, and our clothing. A HUGE shoutout to the Richmond police, who went out of their way to help us recover our items on their day off.
Despite that unfortunate event, we still had a good trip. I was so thankful to be able to visit Napa again, especially considering how much harder it is for us to go there (from Hong Kong) during these pandemic times. More importantly, we cherished the time we had catching up with old friends, and we are very thankful that we stayed safe and healthy the entire time.