My Fabulous Gluten-Free Birthday, Part Two

Garden at The Inn on First |
The garden where we ate our fabulous breakfasts.

So, here is part two of our getaway. I’ll just jump right in.

After getting all of the fabulous opinions, we headed off on our journey. We made an appointment with Vincent Arroyo Winery for 12:30pm, but on the way, we got stuck behind a painting truck. The kind that paints the stripes on the road, so you have to wait. I called the winery (I love cell phones.) to let them know we were going to be late. Closer to 1pm. They said, “No problem. Be safe. We’ll see you when you get here.” That’s so sweet. Right after I hung up, the painting truck pulled off the road, so we used the opportunity to stop at Palisades Market/Deli in Calistoga to pick up some lunch for our picnic. The Big Man got a sandwich, and I got meat, cheese, and chips. They were very nice after I explained why I didn’t want an actual sandwich. And I didn’t get sick, so they did it right.

Teddy greeted us when we got to Vincent Arroyo. Held the door and everything. They don’t charge for tastings at all, and you get to taste all of their wines. I believe it was 11. They were all great. You can only buy their wines at the winery. If you buy wine, then you get on a list. They send you an invoice during the next season. If you throw it away, nothing happens. If you pay it, you get wine delivered to you. There is no other way to get their wine. And it is amazing. So, I would recommend going there if you are ever in Napa. So worth it. We ended up being there for an hour and a half between the tasting and the tour. They even have a wine named after their winery cat called, “Nameless.”

Next was Summers. We had our picnic lunch there because it was such a great view. It wasn’t too bad in the shade even though the temperature gauge said it was 100 degrees F. They had nice wine. They are known for their Charbono. The Charbono grape is from Italy and was widely grown before prohibition. Then came the wars, etc. So, it lost favor. Currently, there are only 80 acres of it grown in the world. And, fourteen of those are at the Summers Winery. Their Charbono is very nice, and we bought a bottle, but after that, we headed down to August Briggs Winery.

Matthew, the Direct Sales Manager was pouring since the regular pourer was busy. He used to own his own wine shop and is one of those people who is just passionate about wine because he loves it. He’s not snobby, but his passion rubs off. He was pouring six different wines that day. And, he happened to be pouring their Charbono. (Their Charbono grapes are older than the ones at Summers, so the wine has a richer, deeper flavor.) Even though it is normally never poured for tasting, he decided to pour it for July because it was bbq month, and it goes great with bbq. We think it goes great with anything or nothing at all. Then, he just happened to run out of the Charbono he was pouring for the day while we were there. (We still got our tasting.) So, Matthew opened a bottle of their Petite Sirah. That was also amazing. He was talking about their wine club, so we asked about it. You can be a member or the big club or the small club. The only difference is how many bottles of wine you get automatically. We became members of the small club. Each spring and each fall, we will get 4 bottles of their best. Then we are given the option to order more. BUT, Matthew informed us that since we are so close, we could sign up for pick-up. They have a tasting party each season at the winery, and we can taste all of the wines and then, decide which ones we want to buy more of. Uh, ok! Sounds great to me.

After that, we tried to go to more wineries, but it was already 5pm, and they close up for the night. Since we were already in St. Helena, we went to dinner. Go Fish! Not the game but the restaurant. It’s supposedly the only seafood restaurant in town. Also, fabulous. Great seafood and great sushi. The Big Man was happy about that. And, our waiter was really knowledgeable about food and preparation. I explained my situation, as we always do in restaurants, and he had all of the right answers. He even knew that the Lobster Bisque was not made with a rue. He did all of this without having to go back into the kitchen. I love knowledgeable waiters. It makes life so much easier.

Then, we headed back to the Inn to rest up from our hard day of tasting wine and food. It was so tough.

The next morning, we packed up and ate breakfast. Scones, again! Oh, yeah! We had an appointment for 12:45pm at Pride Mountain Vineyards, so we headed to Long Meadow Ranch on our way there. Unfortunately, the ranch itself is closed to visitors, right now. It is supposed to open up again in the fall, but due to opening a restaurant and tasting room in St. Helena, they didn’t have the man-power to have visitors at both during the busy season.

Long Meadow Ranch is a sustainably run farm/ranch. Grass fed beef. Vegetables. Eggs. Wine grapes. Olives for olive oil. And, you can buy all of it. We are definitely going to go visit when it re-opens. In the meantime, you can go to their new restaurant, Farmstead and visit their new tasting room. Farmstead uses beef, eggs, vegetables, etc. from the ranch. They even have a small vegetable garden outside the restaurant that the chef will go grab from for the menu. It was, also, fabulous. We went back for lunch after visiting Pride Mountain Vineyards, before heading home. They were very helpful with my gluten issue. I had a cheese burger with no bun. It was a more upscale version of a cheese burger. Roasted red potatoes instead of fries. The Big Man had roasted chicken with pesto, spinach, and white beans. The restaurant is a combination between a fancy steak house and a casual restaurant. The servers had on faded jeans and long aprons.

But, I am little ahead of myself. First, we were at the tasting room. It opens at 11am, and we were there at 11:15am. It felt a little strange to be drinking wine that early, but when in Rome… or Napa… We also tried their olive oil. Did you know that you are supposed to drink olive oil to really try it? We didn’t. They have two kinds. Their regular olive oil is good. Very tasty, but they also have their special olive oil, Prato Lungo. When riding around their ranch one day, the owner and his son came across an olive tree. They found out it is over 125 years old and still produces. They have had it genetically tested at UC Davis, but they still can’t figure out what varietal it is. All I know is that it was the most amazing olive oil I have ever tasted. So, we got some. Still trying to figure out how we are going to use it.

After the tasting room, it was up the mountain to Pride Mountain. OMG! Yes, I just typed OMG! And, it is. This place was beautiful. Just driving in, you get amazing views. It is on top of the mountain on the county line of Sonoma and Napa. In fact, they have to keep the grapes separate until they are weighed, etc. because they have to keep two sets of books, pay two sets of taxes, etc. If you look at their wine labels, it will tell you how much is from Napa and how much is from Sonoma. Otherwise, they have to label it red table wine. And, it is so much more. Seriously! I know I am gushing, but this is phenomenal. We got to try the 2009 Merlot out of the barrel, even though it will not be bottled until August 2011. It was great. And I am not the biggest Merlot fan because ever one I have every tried had just been -eh. And this one is going to get better. We also tried, the already bottled, 2007 Merlot. Amazing! I wouldn’t dump my glass after trying it. I just held on to it until it was gone. It was that good. We bought a bottle. It was far from cheap, but I didn’t care. It was my birthday (ok, the day after at this point), and I was getting what I wanted. And, as a good friend of mine says, “Mama wants it. So, Mama gets it.” Now, it is sitting in our basement new wine cellar along with all of the other wonderful treats we got on my birthday. Just waiting for aging and the right occasion. I better stop writing about this, or I might go break into it, right now.

So, that’s it. After going back to Farmstead for our lunch, we headed home to our beautiful little boy. (Grandma was staying with him. We didn’t leave him alone, in case you were wondering.) That was my birthday. I have decided that every birthday must be spent like this, from now on. Not just a big one. We need more “occasions” to go out and treat ourselves to a little fun. OK, maybe we treated ourselves a little too much. Seriously. We have a lot of not-so-inexpensive wine in our basement new wine cellar. But, a little two-day jaunt or even a nice picnic somewhere new. We all need a break and to treat ourselves like the precious beings that we are from time to time.

And, on the note of great things happening to me, I have been honored twice in the last couple of days. A few days ago, I was asked if I wanted to have my blog included on the blogroll for the NFCA. (Please check out their site. Lots of great information.) Wow! You betcha! I am currently trying to move my blog to my own site. No offense to, but I want to be able to control everything. I really didn’t think I would have this much fun blogging. It started out as kind of a lark. But now, I can’t stop. Anyway, I will be getting on that blogroll as soon as the blog is all nestled in its new bed.


In addition, I received a comment from Chaya at Comfy Cook that she has honored me and my blog as her gluten-free blog of the week. Another big WOW! A big thank you to Chaya. She has a few blogs, so go check them out.

Until later, here’s to…Living better, easily!™

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7 Responses to “My Fabulous Gluten-Free Birthday, Part Two”

  1. Hey Tia! I was born and raised in San Fran and spent most of our summers at our family’s place in Calistoga! I love Palisades Market!! Also totally adore Pride Mountain Vineyards – so beautiful there!
    What a great post! Makes me miss those summers SO much!!
    Happy Belated Birthday! SO glad you were able to celebrate in Wine country! ;0)

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes. It was so much fun. Missed my baby, of course, but it was also nice to connect with my husband sans baby.

      I just want to go back to Napa again, and again. If it just wasn’t so hot. I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to heat.But ,we really haven’t had much of a summer in Petaluma, so I guess I get irritated either way. Hard to please.

      Tia 😛

  2. Wow, that really does sound like an incredible trip, Tia! So glad you had that lovely birthday time with your Big Man. 😉 I learned a lot about wines and what’s available in Napa from your post. And, wow, a restaurant that doesn’t make their lobster bisque with a roux–how cool! I want some of that.

    Okay, now I’ve just realized my Adoption post is due Tuesday. Yikes! Better get busy!


    • It was a great time. The only thing about the lobster bisque is that it had croutons in it. I wasn’t going to have any since I assumed it would be made with a rou. (It was for the Big Man.)But the waiter had brought me a spoon because he thought I could have some and totally forgot about the huge croutons in it. 🙂 So, if you ever get it, make sure they don’t put the croutons in.

      Tia 😛