Party Hardy, Napa Style

AKA: Mom's 60th Birthday Napa Trip Extravaganza

I knew this weekend's trip to Napa to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday was not going to be a simple wine tasting affair the minute I received an email from my father. This email was a minute-to-minute itinerary of our trip with maps, reviews, and reservations - a 33 page document (and I'm not kidding). Usually this sort of itinerary is for our mega Europe trips and the itinerary is neatly organized into a white binder which we've all come to know as the bible. This was not in a white binder, but it was awful close especially considering we were gone for only 3 days.

It all began after my morning shift on Thursday. I dashed home, de-coffeed (I have to do this now b/c after work I smell like fresh brewed cup of coffee), and rushed to the Eugene Airport. I flew to Oakland with a stop-over in Portland. Actually, as I was waiting to take off on the Eugene to Portland segment, the flight attendant came up to me and asked if I worked at the Starbucks near the mall. Why yes I said. Well, they enjoyed a wonderful cup this morning from us. Too funny! I got good service on that portion of the trip. The rest of the trip went well, and I arrived to Oakland where I was picked up by Don & Sue Hartley and Pat Richardson. We all drove together to met up with the rest of the entourage already in Napa (or I should say, St Helena's). With us all there (albeit late in the evening), the celebrations began!

This celebration involved the gathering of family and friends (friends that are so close their family now really)--The Harleys, The Richardsons, The Troglers, and our little immediate O'Neill fam (we missed you Chicago fam!). The majority of us stayed together in a house that the Ink House B&B rents out for big parties like us, a place called the Carriage House. It's a very cute little B&B up in the St. Helena area.

But really the weekend was about two things: Mom/Jan and Wine. My mom was in high spirits the entire weekend (in fact, those of us in the B&B know from the singing from the shower) and the wine was plentiful. Now, I'm not a wine fanatic like some in the group, but we did taste some very fine wines. And how could we not? We visited practically all the wineries in the area, so we were bound to get some good ones. Here's the run down on the vineyards:

We toured almost at each winery, so now we are all highly educated in the Napa wines and vines. We all thought it funny, and very accurate, when I called my dad Teacher's Pet. He was in his element--walking ahead with the winery's tour guide, asking questions (edging on interrogation), and giving his input. A classic pose is displayed on my Flickr site (fyi-I created an album for this trip). My mom was just happy drinking the wine and enjoying the company.

To go with the wine, we had some very tasty food. The big birthday dinner was at Auberge Du Soleil, a fancy restaurant.ย shmancy were you get courses and such. The other delicious meal was at a Don Giovannis, a nice Italian restaurant. A other fun spots were Taylor's Refresher, Dean and Deluccas, and the Model Bakery. Yum!

I think this was the first time I've spent in Napa were I tasted the wine and found some were my usual "hum" (as in, it's ok) was like more of a ohh, hmm (as in, actually not bad & might drink 1/2 a glass). My favorite was Quixote with it's neat architecture. It reminded me of Sintra, Portugal and a castle there with lots of color and interesting shapes. Others said it reminded them of Barcelona and Gaudi.

The end of our trip was a half day in SF before our flights. We did a quick stop at the Ferry Building. Then we did a mini walk at the Land's End & Cliff House area, which was beautiful as ever. And as we headed back to Oakland, I made a pit stop at Yumi. Heather Returns! It was heaven again (I haven't hyped it up in my mind, it's still just that good).

Spottswood Winery Spottswood Winery