Last weekend, I hosted my first official California visitor, as ex-roommate Hal made a stop in San Francisco for the weekend! Although we lived together for nearly a year, I saw very little of him during that time due to our respective travel schedules, his grad school application process, and his side gig driving Uber…so having a whole weekend to spend together was an incredible treat!
As soon as he rolled in Friday, we headed to Vesta in Redwood City, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. We dined with our friend Erik, who is also a Bay Area resident, and then headed down the block to Blacksmith for more cocktails…
…including, naturally, frosé. A basic white girl never forgets (although this bar bill def didn’t rival last September’s shenanigans at the Godfrey roof…eek).
We took advantage of the gorgeous evening to head back to my place and enjoy the sunset on our deck – wine included, naturally. (A lot of wine included.)
The next morning, we had grand, ambitious plans of being up and on the road by around 8am to get to wine country by 10. Needless to say, Saturday morning actually didn’t find us crawling out of bed until closer to 9, so we arrived in Yountville around noon. First stop:
Bouchon, for foie gras, croques madames, and bellinis at the bar! Incredible food and the best chat with the bartender put us in the perfect mood for a strenuous afternoon of serious wine tasting.
Once we had finished up, we headed across the highway to Chandon (duh). While my June wine club shipment wasn’t ready yet (first world problems, amirite?), we did enjoy the free flights for members. While sampling, we chatted with Michael, our tasting host and a fellow recent transplant to the area, about his favorite wineries on the Napa side and a few restaurants he recommended.
While Napa is great, I really prefer Sonoma for the generally more laid-back atmosphere, and wanted to show Hal the contrast between the two valleys. We crossed the Oakville Grade, laughing all the way at the absurd roads, and made a brief, abortive attempt to stop at the (wrong) Hanna tasting room before heading to my personal fave: Iron Horse!
I’ll never get over the views – and Hal was appropriately enchanted.
Everything the light touches will one day be yours, Harold…if you MOVE HERE (not like I’m biased or anything).
After a fantastic tasting experience, including their special-edition Rainbow Cuvée (#prideweekend, duh), we made the most serendipitous of stops at La Crema’s Saralee estate riiiight around 4:57. As they close at 5, we were initially told we wouldn’t be able to taste, which I had expected, but I made sure to emphasize that I really wanted to show Hal the space – a spectacular renovation of a 100-year-old hops barn. After effusively exploring the building, the tasting room manager, Andrea, said possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard: “We just can’t let you leave without tasting something.” Andrea, you are LOVELY, and you speak my language.
We tried their delicious single-vineyard Shell Ridge pinot, and then hit the jackpot when Andrea brought over the day’s last open bottle of their 2014 Nine-Barrel pinot noir – a reserve label that retails for over $100, and is produced on select years with only the best grapes in La Crema’s entire portfolio. Andrea let us take our (generous) pours out back, admire the view from the deck, and relax while the La Crema staff finished closing. All in all, an utterly lovely and unexpected experience that definitely cemented La Crema’s spot as one of my favorite vineyards in the area.
We took it easy Saturday night after a lengthy day of tasting, as we wanted to be fresh for Sunday’s jam-packed calendar. First stop: the unparalleled spectacle of the San Francisco Pride Parade!
Favorite shirt of the day: "Why ban gay marriage when you can ban KidzBop?" HA!
The following photos don’t even scratch the surface of the event, which featured everything from “Dykes on Bikes” to every imaginable protest group…
…plenty of Trump hate that was as clever as it was civil…
…every corporate sponsor in the Bay Area…
…the San Francisco cast of “Hamilton” as the honorary grand marshals!...
…and of course, this guy, making the day an absolute joy. We stayed for three hours, and when we left the parade was not even close to over. We had to hightail it back to Palo Alto for the evening’s entertainment: DCI WEST!
I’ve mentioned DCI, and Hal’s obsession with it, in the past (here, for example). I’ve also come to love the spectacle and sheer uniqueness of competitive drum corps through Hal, and was excited to join him, Erik and his friend Sean for the evening. It also marked my first trip to Stanford Stadium!
And I can’t wait to get back in there to watch some college football (GO IRISH, duh!). The show itself was fantastic and varied, with some amazing shows even this early in the season. We had a ball critiquing the performances, discussing the art of drum corps, and hanging out on a gorgeous NorCal evening.
All in all, I think the weekend went a long way toward convincing Harold he needs to make the Bay Area his post-Duke MBA future home…am I right, Hal? Am I right? At the very least, it was a fantastic weekend of shenanigans with a great friend, and I am so happy that #sanfranlizco made it onto the #highwaytohal!