Schwegmanigans: Wine Country Edition!

YOU GUYS there are like fifty pictures in this post and I can't even begin to narrow it down further because this was SUCH a fantastically fun day. 

My family came out to visit me about six weeks after I moved this summer - ostensibly to see my new city, tour Stanford, etc. - but in reality, our end goal was simple: CHANDON. 

As I have told you all ad nauseum, my sister Emily is a ridiculously gifted designer whose work was selected by Domaine Chandon for their limited edition "American Summer" champagne bottles this summer. With wine country the same distance from my new home as cabin country is from the Twin Cities, I've made it my new favorite weekend destination - and Chandon has become the winery equivalent of Cheers for me. (This was my third trip, and I've subsequently made a couple more...oops!) 

We were so excited to bring Emily to see all her work in action - and the winery staff were almost equally excited when we told them she had done the design work. They comped us a bottle of their reserve label cuvée, one of my favorites, to enjoy outside! 

...and enjoy we did. In addition to the bottle that we received from Chandon, I also had a wine club shipment to pick up, and they waived the corkage fee to open it on site. I also receive free tastings or full glasses as a club member...so needless to say, we had QUITE a few bubbles in our systems by the time we rolled out a few hours later. 

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We quickly made our way to the Adirondacks out back, and while we started out perfectly respectable, I PROMISE...

...things rapidly devolved as we cracked into bottle #2. Jonathan will clearly make an excellent and HIGHLY professional sommelier someday.

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I absolutely adore these people beyond all measure and reason. We had way too much fun popping bottles, taking pictures, and telling, I shit you not, EVERYONE we came in contact with that Emily had done the design work. I think she was ready to absolutely murder Dad by the time we headed out. 

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Fortunately, Dad had provided for us with a massive haul at Bouchon Bakery down the street...he does this great thing where he kind of blacks out at any given bakery counter, and all of a sudden we have like three times as many pastries as any family of five could justifiably need. He also went HAM on the macaron selection, and they were an ideal re-up after all the bubbles. 

As temperatures soared into the 90s, we headed for our second stop of the day, Alpha Omega's gorgeous outdoor tasting patio. Could this setting be any more idyllic? 

The girls did a custom flight of white wines - perfect for the heat - while Papa Bear and Jonathan went full-out with the Beckstoffer To Kalon tasting - three wine archive-quality cabernets plus a current offering. It was, in a word, sublime. 

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A little bit wined-out, we turned to one of my favorite hidden gems in St. Helena, Goose & Gander. With a Michelin-recommended cocktail program in their charming basement bar, it was the perfect mid-afternoon stop to beat the heat and take a break from wine for a time. Bonus: Dad adores their hand-chipped, crystal-clear giant ice cubes... 

From there, it was back down the road to Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch for a happy hour glass of wine and some snacks while we waited out the worst of rush hour traffic back into the city. We loved their grass-fed meatballs and mini ham sandwiches!

As usual, an unbelievably lovely day in wine country with my Schwegfam faves :)