Trip to San Francisco – Days 3-4

For Tues-Wed we decided to head out of town and see some nearby wine country. It was also the beginning of our time with A&J. On the morning of the 6th (Tues), Hubby walked down to the Hertz to pick up our rental car. There was a HUGE delay and it took him about 75 minutes to return to our hotel with the car (a 4-door Mercedes, not sure of the model which ran $104 for 2 days). While he was dealing with that, I packed up and checked out of our hotel. We loaded our stuff into the trunk and headed to the airport to pick up A&J.

Grapes at Ledson

They had just walked out with their luggage as we pulled up. Once we stacked everything in the car, we hit the road. When Asha had made the car reservation, she requested a full sized vehicle large enough for 4 adults plus luggage. They told her we’d get something like an Empala. The Mercedes was not nearly as large as an Empala, so us girls had some small bags between us in the back seat. It wasn’t a huge deal though. The first stop we made was on the north side of the Golden Gate bridge. It was less foggy than the day before, but just as windy and chilly. We snapped a few pictures and got back into the car.

GG Bridge

One place we wanted to try was In-N-Out burger. We were all hungry for lunch so I found one on my GPS in Mill Valley. That was our next stop. Hubby got a double-double and I just went with the cheeseburger. We also split an order of fries and a Sprite. It was definitely a tasty burger. We enjoyed our meal and piled back into the car. We joked that A&J were having an extremely efficient trip because in the first hour since leaving the airport, they had already hit two major stops off their list of must-do items in San Fran.

In-N-Out burgers

We continued north on 101 and got off the highway to head over to the Korbel winery. Now when I think of Korbel champagne, I always think of extra dry brut – blech! Turns out they have tons of other champagnes and a great history as well. We parked at 2:00 on the dot and only missed the first minute or so of the tour (starts every hour on the hour).

The tour was very informative. They have these huge oaken barrels that were installed in the basement and are so big they can’t move them! They also have the worlds largest bottle of champagne. The tasting at Korbel was free and we got to taste 4 champagne varieties outside and one other taste of something inside. Two of the champagnes we had outside aren’t available in stores anywhere and they were our favs! You get 10% off if you buy 4 bottles, so we bought two of the Sec and A&J bought a bottle of Sec and a bottle of the Rose (which we drank to celebrate finishing the Avon Walk later that week).

Lots of old wine bottles at Korbel

After tasting some bubbly, we headed over to Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. There’s a big parking lot just before the entrance to the park. Pedestrians can enter for free and to drive in would cost you $8. The park map cost $0.50 though which was somewhat odd. We bought a map and headed down a trail. We ended up doing about 3 miles of some heavy duty hiking. We saw some amazingly huge trees. The Redwoods can grow together which was pretty cool.

Looking straight up an old redwood at Armstrong

After hiking around a bit, we headed out to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Sonoma which is located in Santa Rosa. I got a good deal online and booked the room for 4 adults for $143/night. We dropped off our stuff, changed clothes, and headed out for dinner. We wanted something casual and our friend A had recommended a place called Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa. They had some great beers and pizza. I’m not a huge pizza eater, but the pizza I had was one of the best I’ve ever had. It had pesto, spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and grilled chicken on it. Hubby got a calzone and we each had two beers. Total for that meal was $42.

Olive Oil tasting at Ledson

Wednesday morning we got up and asked for a recommendation for breakfast. We went to the Omelet Express in Santa Rosa. Asha and I split a 4-egg omelet that had avocado, bacon and tomato in it. Hubby got his own omelet. Our total after tip was $25 for breakfast and the omelets were awesome.

After breakfast, we headed south on the Sonoma highway to hit up some wineries. This would be our only day tasting wines and we wanted to make the most of it. Most places open around 10am so that’s when we got to the first winery, Ledson. Here, the tasting was $15/person and you got to taste 6 wines. The guy pouring for us was definitely giving us quite a bit of wine too! In the end, we enjoyed their wines but they were a bit pricey for us. I did leave with a Reisling because it was one of the best I’d ever had and was only $18. Ledson doesn’t distribute anywhere, so their site in Sonoma is the only place you can buy their wine. The grounds were very nice and the mansion/castle that the tasting in was pretty cool to look at.

Benziger grapes

The next stop we made was Benziger. Our friends E&V had said the tram tour ($15) there was the best and we wanted to do one tour that day. We had about 20 minutes to kill before the tour started so we walked around their little biodynamics garden to learn all about it. The tram tour was very good and we learned all about the farm and the process of making wine. It included 4 tastings. We didn’t like the wine here very much at all…

Interesting facts about wine found at Benziger

Next we headed over to Arrowood. Arrowood is a small winery that just buys grapes from other vineyards to mix up unique blends. We had a coupon for a free tasting for 2 so our tastings were free (regular price $10 if I remember correctly). Be sure to ask your hotel for coupons for the wineries you plan to attend in the morning before you leave. They usually have 2 for 1 or even complimentary coupons to give you. We tasted 5 wines here and Hubby got a bottle of Syrah that we both really enjoyed.

The castle/mansion at Ledson

At this point we were getting really hungry. We hadn’t fully planned out the day in that much detail, so even though we were literally feet from Imagery, we headed back over to Glen Ellen to check out the Village Market there. Wow that place was amazing. They had made-to-order sandwiches and a huge salad bar. All of our sandwiches were delicious (sandwiches were ~$8/each). They were large so Asha and I should have split one. I also got some roasted veggies from the salad bar that were really good.

Once we had some food in our bellies, we headed back over to Imagery. It’s the sister vineyard to Benziger. When you buy your tram tour tickets at Benziger, they give you complimentary tasting coupons for Imagery. Imagery was pretty crowded so we checked out the art halls. The labels are all done by local artists and some were pretty cool. We tasted 4 wines here including a blueberry port that was really unique. Hubby got a Tempernio to bring out bottle total up to 3 at this point.

Bezinger Caves

Then we headed back to Glen Ellen to go to a couple wineries that were open after 5pm. The next place we went was called Eric Ross. This was our favorite winery of the day. The guy pouring the wine was the actual owner of the winery. It was amazing to hear his stories and the passion in what he did. The tasting there was $6 for 6 wines. We bought a white blend and a port from Eric Ross and he even signed the bottle for us.

I honestly can’t remember the name of the last place we went. I’ll have to go look in my notes again… They are open until 6 and we had coupons for free tasting there. Asha and I were wined out, so the boys were the only ones still tasting at this point. They didn’t like the wine much here and we decided to call it a day.

Huge oak barrels at Korbel

We headed into Sonoma to check in to the Best Western. The room for 4 adults was $228 and included continental breakfast. The location was great and we were able to walk to our dinner reservations at The Girl and The Fig. We stopped in about an hour before our reservation and they said they could seat us outside, under some heat lamps, so we did that. By the end of the night, we were so cold, they gave us girls a blanket to keep our legs warm.

The food here was everything everyone raves about. We split the goat cheese appetizer for the table and the boys both got the 3-course tasting menu with the wine pairings for ~$40. I went with the mussels. For dessert, I got the strawberry/rhubarb tart and it was amazing. The total for our meal including wine for Hubby and a cocktail for me was $90 before tip.

That wraps up days 3-4 of our trip. Check back on Friday for the final installment of the San Fran recap.

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19 Responses to “Boston Marathon 2013”

  1. #
    Fiona — April 19, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Thank you so much for sharing Jen! I completely understand where you’re coming from and how you feel…do nice things for yourself

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 8:50 am

      You do the same Fiona

  2. #
    Kristen — April 19, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. This is UNREAL. My husband Jeff ran the Boston Marathon this year, and I spent the day traveling around on the T watching the marathon with my in-laws. We ended the day just a block from the blast sites – I shared my story here:; Jeff’s story here:

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your and Jeff’s stories. What a day you guys had. I’m glad you’re safe.

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

      I added these links to the body of the post.

  3. #
    Shannon — April 19, 2013 at 10:38 am

    It definitely does help to put some words together. And I feel the same way- even though I was volunteering at the 10k, i can’t help but wonder why wasn’t i volunteering at the finish line so I could’ve helped?

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

      I agree – it was therapeutic to write this up.

  4. #
    Katie L — April 19, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for sharing Jen. I haven’t lived in Boston for 4 years now, but my husband and I had a similar reaction. We both wanted to get “home” to the city we love, a city that becomes part of your being no matter where you go next.

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

      I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Living in Boston leaves such a strong impression…

  5. #
    Jen — April 19, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I’m a longtime reader, first time commenter. First I want to give you big virtual hugs regarding the events in Boston. Your feelings are no less valid, no less important. My heart goes out to you. Also, I want to say, welcome to Cincinnati! I live east of the city and am a transplant from Seattle. Cincy is growing on me, and slowly but surely I’m starting to tell people that I’m from Ohio not Washington. 🙂 Best wishes to you and thank you for sharing.

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

      Jen – thanks so much for commenting. I realize that at some point I’ll say I’m from Ohio, but the events of this week just my my heart tied even tighter to Boston…

  6. #
    Jene — April 19, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    I’m so glad all of your Boston people are safe. I can completely relate to your feelings of helplessness, I felt the same way after 9/11. It’s hard to be away from family and friends and a city that you love when tragedy strikes.

    Big hugs for you and your crew.

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

      Thanks Jene. I’m sure it’s very similar to how you felt around 9/11.

  7. #
    Ashley Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) — April 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I feel the same way–Boston was my home for four years of college. I love that city. I feel like it is MY city. I wish I was there, locked in with friends, watching the news and hugging them. I feel so helpless on the other side of the state, so far away.

    As soon as I’m able I’m going to the city and having a moment in the Common before heading to all my favorite places. My heart aches for the city, I wish I was there.

    • beantownbaker — April 19th, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels this way. We are trying to make plans to get back to the city sometime soon as well.

  8. #
    Kathy — April 20, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Oh I so know how you feel.. I live in Michigan. I’ve been here for almost 10 years, and I still call Boston home. It’ll always be home to me. You’re not alone!

    • beantownbaker — April 21st, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one. I definitely think Boston will always feel like home to both me and Hubby.

  9. #
    VTHokie — April 22, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I know exactly how you feel – I am a 2004 graduate of Virginia Tech. I was at work when the April 16th incident happened in Blacksburg, and I felt SO far away, and SO hopeless – the only place I wanted to be was in my beloved Blacksburg.

    To make matters worse, I flew to Missouri the next day (for work) for 3.5 weeks. It seemed that the people out there had ALREADY moved on from the tragedy – it just made NO sense to me. I cried most of those 3 weeks, and since I was out there by myself it was a struggle.

    I have always loved Boston, and I know that that community will love and support one another, just as Blacksburg did (and still does). It was the sixth anniversary this past Tuesday, and with everything happening in Boston, and the thoughts of VT and Blacksburg, it was an extremely long and tiring week.

    Stay strong.

    • beantownbaker — April 22nd, 2013 @ 11:46 am

      That sounds like a horrible situation for you in the aftermath of the VTech tragedy. Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your story.

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