Sunday, March 11, 2007

California, here I come ...

My wife and I have begun planning our vacation … this year’s destination – San Francisco and the Napa Valley. Here’s the thing – I am not a wine drinker by nature. I am 100% German (both parents are from the “Vaterland”), which means I have a strong taste for beer. My wife LOVES wine, and I’m certainly willing to give anything a chance. Plus, after watching Sideways, it seemed like getting to know wine a little better would be kind of cool.

A few of my friends dig wine as well. A fellow blogger, and good friend, the Rev, has been diving into the wine tasting (and drinking) hobby. I figure if he’s enjoying it, I’m missing out on something.

Becoming a wine aficionado takes lots of time (and lots of money, I’m guessing). Currently if you handed me a glass of Thunderbird and told me it was Dom Perignon, I’d believe you … translation, my pallet is not so advanced when it comes to vino. But, again, I’ll give anything a try, and what better place to go to do this (outside of Europe), than to go to Napa.

If any of you bloggers have any suggestions for me, please pass them along. These can be suggestions on wines that I should give a try (please, keep them on the reasonably priced level), books to read, websites to go to, or any places to visit in Napa. Thanks in advance for the love.


Jeff said...

We're going to SF next week. I've been there several times (my brother used to live in Silicon Valley). Some thoughts:

1. Unless you specifically want to go to SF, consider going to SoCal instead. There are a lot of good wineries around Santa Barbara and SLO. And -- seriously! -- A.J. Feeley's cousin (a serious dude) runs wine tasting at a place in Solvang, a Danish-themed town about 45 min from Santa Barbara.

2. Go before Memorial Day. Reduce crowds.

3. If you go to SF, US Air is having a sale April/May to San Jose -- about $125/person cheaper than SFO, Oakland, or Sacto. Get on that fast.

4. Napa and Sonoma Counties both good. Check the wineries' websites for events, concerts, etc. Go during the week if possible to reduce crowds.

5. While up there, go to the "Old Faithful of CA" in Calistoga.

6. SF is cold and windy year-round. Bring layers and a coat. Seriously.

7. SF traffic is worse than LA because there are fewer roads and the bay limits options.

8. SF parking is expensive -- expect $40/day at hotels. So is gas. But the subway (BART) is pretty good. Plan your trip to minimize days with a rental.

9. SF has VERY steep hills. Drive cautiously and ride the brakes.

10. SF has homeless people like Philly has fat people. Many, and everywhere. They're aggressive and have more rights than you. Get used to it.

11. Stay out of the Tenderloin.

12. Alcatraz requires advance tickets. Buy before you leave.

13. Call me about riding cable cars. I have a tip I don't want posted online.

14. Stop in Berkeley for an hour on the way to the wineries. See how silly the place can be. Step around the homeless in the People's Park. Watch the naked bike guy.

15. Go to Muir Woods, across Golden Gate Bridge.

16. If possible, go to Yosemite National Park. It's about 3.5 hrs from the bay area, so you might get a hotel around Modesto. It's worth it.

The Rev said...

I went to San Francisco when I was 11. I remember some things.

Alcatraz was definitely my favorite part. I've always been interested in Alcatraz history for some reason.

I saw a Giants game at old Candlestick Park. I'm guessing the new ballpark is much better.

Fisherman's Wharf had some good restaurants. And a good loaf of Sourdough bread is worth the trip.

If you can carry a bottle of wine or two back, bring me one. I'll reimburse you for it. Whatever you liked the best I will try. And a loaf of sourdough bread. I love that stuff.

Reverse said...

Take some good walking shoes. And if Napa runs to much don't forget about Sonoma. If your driving... rent a convertable. Nothing like driving on the Golden Gate and not having a roof.

Lionitt said...

We can hit up the liquor store over lunch and I'll show you a few of the resonable ones we enjoy at the abode.

Superstar said...

Los: Just like Beer, wine is also an "accquired" taste. I don't know if they do this back East, but herein PHX some of the "higher" end resturants will sponcer a "flight school" which of course the firsttime I went...Well, LOL, It went something like this...
Me: I am here for the wine tasting.
Host: Great, the flight school has just began!
Me: No, I am not here to drink that much! I a not interested in flying...I am. here. 4 the WINEtasting..
Host: Yes, ma'am. It is right this way ~rolled eyes~
Me: Thank you!

In San Fran and Napa valley, they have TONS of tours that you can take. They take you vinyard to vinyard...LOVE it! Tasting swooshing, and getting TRASHED!!!

DLJ said...

I was born in SF and have lived 30 years in Napa Valley. When looking for accommodations here, I have always found the hot springs motels in Calistoga the best deal... (not only are room rates less expensive but they have little kitchens and outdoor patios with barbecues to help beat high cost of dining out.)
For wineries, start with your preference for wine and then the wineries which specialize in that varietal. You can go corporate, small family, off beaten track, etc. Let me know if you want restaurant recommendations or the best place to get gourmet picnic. Stop by the website and when you arrive in Napa, stop by, too - we know of many scrumptious wines for under $20. In SF, don't miss Golden Gate Park.

El Padrino said...

sonoma valley reserve is delish

El Padrino said...


Eric said...

I'm going on vacation this week and I am pumped. I can't really help you on the wine thing though, and since I'm going to vegas I doubt I'll be bothering with much wine there. Unless it's in someway related to strippers and gambling, in which case I doubt I'll be savoring the wine much.

Jeff said...

This isn't about Sue drinking wine. You're going to watch Barry Bonds, aren't you? Admit it!

Los said...

Jeff - damn, I wish I would've talked to you before I booked my flight!

Rev - Alcatraz is definitely on our list!

Reverse - I'll probably buy some cross trainers.

Lionnitt - No doubt, we'll need to peruse the liquor store.

Superstar - I am so looking forward to the tastings!

dlj - Thanks for stopping by! I might be conversing with you more in the next month or so, if you don't mind.

ELP - Will give your suggestion a try.

Eric - I LOVE Vegas, what a great city!

Jeff - Hell no!

Steph said...

Just don't fall down drunk and embarrass your wife. That's my only advice to you.

The Rev said...

Trust me on one thing...

his wife is just as likely to fall down drunk as Los is.

And it's a beautiful thing.

Snowelf said...

I've never been to CA, let alone anywhere more west than Minnesota.
It's on my list of vacations to take when I am working again.

Have a wonderful time!!!


Christina_the_wench said...

Can't help you. Never been to tat area. But have a blast! I will be back in the Midwest helping Rev. drink the beer in your frig.