Monday, July 21, 2008
SF: Day 2
For our first full day in SF, I figured it'd be the best day for wine country because we're still on east coast time and it won't be so hard to get up early. When planning our vacation, we thought we'd rent a car, drive out to Sonoma or Napa, rent bicycles, and then bike to wineries from there. Then when you think a bit, you realize it's a bad idea. Riding bikes in the sun, drinking wine, and then having to drive 1.5 hours back to SF after a bunch of tastings? Not smart.
We chose Wine Country Tour Shuttle for our trip to Napa. You are driven to Napa in a shuttle bus and visit four wineries, get a coupon for lunch, and then take the ferry back to SF, avoiding any of the afternoon traffic. You don't have to worry about drinking and driving an can fully relax, unless you have obnoxious tourmates like we did. Fortunately, the idiots didn't get fully obnoxious until they'd gotten a good deal of wine in them. Anyways, the tour group meets at the Ferry Building, which is a temple of deliciousness. Josh and I got there early because we're fast NYC walkers. Our friends told us to take the bus to the Ferry Building because it's over a mile, but we walked it anyways and it wasn't so bad. We had delicious ham and cheese turnovers from the Acme Bread Company. I was eying the pain au chocolat, but I figured I'd need a better base for the wine tastings. The turnovers were so crispy on the outside but tender and flaky on the inside, chock full of gooey cheese and cubes of ham. Every time we went to the Ferry Building after that, I wanted another turnover but I never had another one. I guess it's time for me to start another food quest for a good ham and cheese turnover in NYC.
We started our tour at Domaine Chandon, which produces sparkling wines. It was the most educational part of the tour, as we got to go through the wine making process. When we actually got to the tasting portion of the tour, I really wasn't in the mood to drink because it was just shy of 11:00. I was the only one who disposed of tastings in the "pour bucket." I'm not a very sophisticated wine drinker. I go for white wines of the sweeter variety, like riesling and chenin blanc. The sparkling wines we tasted at Domaine Chandon got drier and drier with each one.
Our second, and favorite, stop was V. Sattui Winery. We were given free reign there, but only had about 1.5 hours for lunch and tastings. The winery is lovely and I wish I'd taken pictures of the grounds, which look like an old Italian farm. The wine tour provided a $10 coupon per person and with that, Josh and I were able to get a lovely picnic lunch with an herb bread, salami, cheese, foie gras mousse, and fruit salad. The weather was slightly warm with cool breezes and the sun was shining; it was heaven. We later did tastings and loved the wine so much that we ordered several bottles to be shipped home.
Our third stop was at Rutherford Ranch, but it was very unimpressive in comparison to Domaine Chandon and V. Sattui because there really weren't any grounds to explore. It was a store and a tasting room, which felt like the living room of a contemporary house. The last winery was Andretti Winery, of race car driver fame. It was gorgeous and we did the tasting in the backyard, which was strung with globe lights, like you could have a huge party at sunset. The grape vines are adjacent to the backyard so we could actually walk amongst them, something we couldn't do at any of the other wineries.
After the ferry ride back to SF, we walked all the way to Fisherman's Wharf for a quick dinner of soup in a bread bowl. On the way over there, we saw Boudin Bakery, home of SF's famous sourdough bread. They have a huge window at the front of the building where you can watch the bread makers at work. You can smell the sourdough when you walk by, and there's also a museum inside, but we were too tired to go that day.