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Sometimes when an opportunity to travel and make a “date” with your daughter presents itself, you just have to take it. So it was with our eldest daughter, Alaina and the chance to spend “Momma/Daughter Date” time together in California, exploring wineries and food in Napa Valley. I flew to San Francisco for a ten-day stay, mostly business, but a “free” weekend to just explore and have fun was available at the end of my trip. Honestly, my idea of “having fun” usually involves eating, relaxing, and enjoying good wine with friends and family…with our busy schedules, this weekend with Alaina was just what we needed!
You can see by the pictures, that Alaina is sporting an arm cast… a few days before her trip she had surgery on her wrist, and had to wear the cast a few weeks, definitely putting a “damper” on many of her activities. I asked her to join me in California, so she packed her bags and bravely made the trip from Charleston, traveling most of the day, just to spend Friday-Sunday with her Momma!
The weather in San Francisco in April can be a bit cool, damp, and rainy, so we decided on a full day bus tour for $99 each, with a guide to Napa Valley wineries, seeing all the sights we could in-between. We boarded our comfy bus Saturday morning by 8 a.m., then sat back and relaxed as the bus made it’s way out of San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge, passing Alcatraz, the Presidio, and many coastal views of the Pacific Ocean. Our guide was knowledgeable and a lot of fun, sharing facts, local lore, and his own fun wit bits, telling us that we are noisy now, but at the end of our trip, most of us will be sleeping on the bus ride back!
Our first stop was V. Sattui winery, in the charming town of St. Helena in Napa Valley. Vittorio Sattui started this business in 1885 after emigrating from Genoa, Italy, and was forced to close during Prohibition. His great-grandson Dario realized his dream of the family business, and re-opened in 1976 with 3 tasting rooms, an Artisan Deli, and a Marketplace. Not only are the wine selections plentiful, the building and grounds are lovely with an “Italian” feel to them. When Alaina and I arrived, the scents from the Artisan Deli drew us in with fresh bread, meats, and cheeses. We had about an hour to visit, so we headed first to a wine-tasting room to check it out. Generous samples were available, with a detailed explanation of the grapes, flavors, and uses of the wine we tasted. Alaina and I quickly found our favorites, and made notes on those we wanted to take home to Charleston! After placing our order for wine shipped back to our home, we went back to the deli to get “breakfast”, after all, it was just 10 a.m.! Don’t you just love mini vacations, where time is not pressing and you can do what you want and when!
At the Artisan Deli, Alaina & I each chose something different so we could share the tastes…delicious sandwiches and a Parmesan & Artichoke spread with crackers with bottled water to cleanse our palate! We boarded the bus, opened our goodies, savored them, and readied ourselves for the next stop!
Our day was filled with winery after winery after winery, ensuring that we enjoyed as much as we could in a day on our tour of Napa Valley. We were grateful that we were riding comfortably and with an experienced driver to navigate. We took many pictures of beautiful scenery, and memories to last a lifetime!
The last bit of our tour included a ferry ride back to San Francisco, directly under the Golden Gate Bridge, but alas, it was raining and foggy, so we had to trust our guide that we truly were under the bridge! By the time our ferry docked at Fisherman’s Wharf, we were starving, but we didn’t have to walk far to get something delicious to eat!
Alaina and I enjoyed Dungeness crabs cooked by “half backing”, when the crab is flipped upside down and chopped in half (from head to “tail”) and then the guts and gills are removed before cooking. Cooking the crabs this way ensures that the meat is not contaminated by the flavor or toxins of the guts, and the crabmeat tastes sweet! Yummy! We ate our fill, walked a bit around Fisherman’s Wharf, then decided to take a cab (pre-Uber days!) back to our hotel.
Our cabbie was prompt, and we climbed into the backseat and buckled in. “Leon” asked us where we were visiting from, and after I told him about the “Lowcountry” of Charleston, SC, I thought I noticed a slight “twinkle” in his eyes…..what a ride we were buckled in for! San Francisco is well-known for its steep rolling hills, and “Leon” made sure that we too, got to experience those hills! At one point, while stopped at a traffic light with the cab nose up on a STEEP hill and cars behind us, I nervously asked if our cab would slide backwards when the light turned green as the gas was accelerated. “Leon” laughed, and then, the light was green, and we were off!! I’m happy to report that we arrived at our hotel safe and sound, with another story to add to our “Momma/Daughter Date”!
After arriving back to our room, we cleaned up, then reminisced about our day of fun! It was a “whirlwind” weekend, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time spent together, sharing new experiences with each other. Sleep came easily, and after a wonderful HUGE breakfast delivered to our room Sunday morning, we boarded the plane that would take us back to Charleston, and our daily lives…..