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Nineteen Hours in Napa

Stephane and I are very skilled at tacking on a little fun to work trips. I mean heck, if you are going to fly to Chicago or Milan for work, stay a while! There is so much to see!

Last week we took off to our other favorite coast: the west one. We had coverage for our kids, so we planned to max out our free time. We landed in San Francisco at 11:39am and were having bloody marys  brunch at the Boon Fly Cafe in Napa by 1pm. Like I said, skilled.


The key to quick escapes is organization. In my opinion, half the fun of a trip is the planning. But if you are not that type, then you have come to the right place. I am downright obsessive about finding great places to stay, eat, and relax/shop/cocktail/chill.

After brunch, we checked into the The Carneros Inn. I have unnamed-6always wanted to check this place out, especially since our dear friends eloped here last year! The "inn" is much larger than I had imagined. As in, they have golf carts and suburbans ferrying guests around to the pool(s), various restaurants, bocce court, and guest cottages. I got over the excessive scale of the place once we parked ourselves next to the amazing ADULT ONLY pool. (I will admit however that we missed the little tyke once we spotted the other, kid friendly pool complete with mini person sized Adirondack chairs.)

Full disclosure: Stephane and I are somewhat lame. While most couples were lazing with glasses of chilled California wines, we were sipping water (with lemon!) We were saving ourselves for a late afternoon run through the vineyards which turned out to be spectacular. Don't worry, we made up for it later.


After a long outdoor shower (sorry, CA drought!) at our cottage, we checked out FARM, the acclaimed restaurant at The Carneros for a glass of champagne. It was lovely to relax in front of their outdoor fireplaces and take in the crisp evening air before hailing our Uber to Yountville.

As Stephane likes to point out, I am not the most practical traveler. I like to keep things interesting, and when I get a bee in my bonnet, look out. I had my heart set on (like for years) going to Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Yountville. To no one's surprise, the place was hard core, solid booked much prior to us even planning this trip or purchasing air tickets. I'm not sure the Pope himself could have gotten a seat at this juncture. So, we opted for Plan B, Mr. Keller's other lauded restaurant in Yountville: Bouchon.

unnamed-7Renowned designer, Adam Tihany, designed the interior of Bouchon. This is one of those French places where it is better than Paris, at least on the inside. Parisian bistros are wonderful, do not get me wrong, but the romantic American interpretation of a Parisian experience is often better. It's like Nancy Meyers herself showed up and directed our evening. The kraft paper menus, the Alaskan crab claws gleaming from the raw bar, the feuille shaped bread on the table, the red mohair banquettes, the zinc bar, the mosaic tiled floor, the copious glasses of Bordeaux Sonoma Pinot… Oh yeah, and the food was really good too.

The next morning, back at our cozy cottage, we took the hotel up on delivered breakfast in bed which we carried out to our chilly back porch just so we could soak up as much fresh air as our NYC lungs could handle. Then we used our last couple of hours for a quick trip to the amazing gym with its vaulted ceilings, and tons of equipment. I mean, we had to work off that huge basket of fresh croissants! Then off to the big pool to soak up the last bit of northern CA sun before checking out.


I know, most people come to Napa for wine tasting. We were happy just to drive with the windows down through the gorgeous vineyards and take in the scenery. Of course, this made us hungry again(?) So we headed to downtown Napa to the Oxbow Public Market, which is a lot like a smaller version of Chelsea Market for all you New Yorkers. Honestly, if it were not for my perpetually marathon training husband, we would have stopped at Gott's Roadside for what looked like incredible hamburgers and shakes OR The Fremont Diner with its siren call of Biscuits and Gravy. Alas, we went on the hunt for salads at the Market. We settled on the famous Hog Island Oyster Co. which has an outpost in Napa. I got my oyster on the half and Cali wine fix while the Mister had sublime grilled oysters, and yes, the salad.

Finally, I just could not say that I came all the way to Napa without attending a wine tasting. We steered over to Sonoma to check out the scene at one of the smaller wineries, Anaba Vineyard. Honestly, we chose this place because we glanced at the huge vineyard guide book in our hotel room, and this one reminded us of St. Barth with its huge palm trees, so voila. We discovered, not really to our surprise, that we are just too New Yorky for sitting around chatting about wines for 3 hours. We sipped furiously, and got out of there in an hour. The gentleman who helped us was so lovely, but we are just too fast paced for swirling glasses all afternoon. And for heaven's sake, we had to drive back to San Francisco after all!

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Turns out, 19 hours was just perfect. For us.

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