Tahoe, Tahoe, off to Cali we go

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MAN, Tahoe was good. It’s just amazingly gorgeous out there. I could have stayed forever and definitely wasn’t ready to head back home. What a way to end 4 out of 5 July weekends flying to opposite US coasts.

The trip started off pretty rough- our flight got cancelled 😦 Since there aren’t a ton of flights to Reno, we wouldn’t have gotten there until late the next day, so we finagled ourselves onto a flight to Oakland. Which got super delayed. We ended up leaving Houston at midnight, renting a car in Oakland, and driving over 3 hours to get to Tahoe. By the time we made it, it was 7 AM Texas time. Phew. Luckily, Dan is a saint and drove the whole way while I slept. Or maybe it was self preservation considering I don’t have the best vision in the dark 🙂 ANYWAY on to the actual fun stuff…

Once we arrived, everything was perfect! The whole weekend was super relaxed. Dan’s mom rented a beautiful cabin so we hung around a lot, playing pool, hot tubbing, and eating at the house. We even did Christmas dinner one night since my BIL was deployed over the holidays. So special! And of course, the nieces and nephew were so fun to play around with. Dan’s mom packed a bunch of water guns and they had a blast with them. We also went on a couple hikes, hung out at King’s Beach, and spent some time in Tahoe City eating ice cream and drinking beer at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company. I so wish we could have stayed longer- silly vacation day limits 😉

While at King’s Beach, we attempted to play inflatable beer pong. Pretty hilarious considering how big the waves were!!

The adults snuck out for beer and ice cream 😀 I loved stopping for a glass of wine on Christy Hill’s patio- perfection.

These are all from our hike up to Stateline Fire Lookout. Supposed to be kid friendly, but they still had to be carried the whole way, ha! But how cute is Ellie in that scarf Rob brought back from Jordan?! I was also in awe of the size of the pine cones in this part of the world. I wanted to pack some in my suit case.

Still feel so lucky I married into such a great family!

Side note- kicking myself for forgetting to bring the nice camera. These iphone pictures don’t do it justice.

Napa for the 4th

We spent the long 4th of July weekend in Napa Valley, and it was just unreal. Wine + beautiful weather + good company can’t be beat. Plus I spent some time each chilly morning on the porch with some coffee and a wine country appropriate book- Eight Hundred Grapes.

We stayed in an adorable Airbnb Dan’s mom found in downtown Napa, walking distance to some restaurants and tasting rooms, so we spent Friday night there. Oenotri  was super- huge housemade salumi selection, a wood burning pizza oven, and a really nice selection of rosés.
Saturday morning, we called in an order at Bouchon Bakery, which ended up being clutch. The line was a mile long, and we happily skipped right to the front to grab our pastries 🙂 Is there any better breakfast than a chocolate croissant?!
Then we were off to Frog’s Leap for our first tasting. The grounds were immaculate- a beautiful house set next to a barn, with tons of fresh produce growing throughout (that you are welcome to pick and eat!). To top it off, they had a large green lawn overlooking the valley. Man.  It wasn’t our favorite wine of the trip, but the setting made the visit more than worth it.
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For lunch, we stopped at Gott’s Roadside, because how can you not? Out of everyone I talked to and anything I read, this was recommended across the board.  It was the cutest place ever and the burgers really hit the spot.
Tasting #2 was at Sterling Vineyards. Definitely one of the most touristy places, but we all agreed that they have the tasting thing down pat. Each tasting is in a different spot, so it was never crowded, and it allowed us to see more of the production side. And that view!! The cable car to the top is a cute little gimmick too.
To wrap up Saturday, we went to Rombauer Vineyards, famous for their Chardonnay.  I felt like we learned a lot about the valley here, and enjoyed an extra bottle (or 2…) sitting in their garden. It was a great visit and we really enjoyed their wines- several can be found at Spec’s here in Texas!
We feasted at Bistro Jeanty that night and I really loved having a good French meal. They even served bone marrow, which was SUCH a treat. We pretty much closed the place we were having such a good time 🙂
Sunday morning, we picked up some more pastries at Alexis Baking Company (the english muffin was shockingly delish) before driving out to Saddleback Cellars for our favorite tasting of the weekend! The setting wasn’t as dramatic as some of the bigger wineries, but we loved how laid back it was, situated in the middle of the vineyard. And seriously, this wine was the best. We all strongly considered joining the wine club, and I still don’t think that’s out of the question.  The founder, Nils Venge, is a bit of a celebrity. He was the first American to receive a 100 point score from wine critic Robert Parker J. for his Cabernet Sauvignon. So ya, he makes some pretty awesome stuff.
After realizing Thomas Keller’s fried chicken stand, Addendum,  was closed (sadly) we scooted over to Hurley’s for a laid back lunch on their patio.
Afterwards, we visited Domaine Carneros, where I felt like I was at a gorgeous estate in France. This is another touristy one, but so fun. Seeing all the bubbles in multiple glasses gave me a little thrill. Apparently they manually drill tiny divots into the bottom of the glasses to make the sparkling wine even more bubbly!
Done with driving, we finished the day on foot walking around Napa. I fell in LOVE with St. Clair Brown Winery. It’s an urban winery surrounded by auto parts shops, but it felt like it could have been a tiny eatery in the middle of a European park. We shared a bottle while hanging out in the garden, surrounded by produce. If I lived in the area, I would be a frequent visitor.
Then we walked around Oxbow Public Market, which was really fun. It’s kind of a hodge podge of cute shops, restaurants, and an actual food market. We had an early dinner at Kitchen Door, which was nice, and headed back to the house for an early night. We watched Bottle Shock before heading to bed 🙂 🙂
Geez, sorry! That was a LOT! Huge thanks to Dan’s rents for treating us (and letting me plan things, haha)- Napa was my No. 1 US spot for a trip before kids. Now that I think about it, was this an incentive trip to get us to start having kids?! Kidding 😉  Now that I’m at least a little bit familiar with the area, I’d love to come back and just visit the smaller wineries, and branch out into Sonoma too.
Napa Valley, you’re a dream.