So, I Won This Contest on Pinterest… (Part 2)

Wine Sisterhood Gathering 2013
Wine Sisterhood Gathering 2013

As promised here is the Day Two recap of my trip to the 2013 Wine Sisterhood in Napa that I won on Pinterest. (If you missed Day One you can find it here.)

Jennifer is a good travel partner because she is an early-riser like me so when I wake up at o’dark thirty I don’t have to worry about disturbing her. We actually had a wake-up call for 6AM. (Yes, we are freaks.) She wanted to run and I wanted to hit the 7:00 Zumba class. She discovered the quiet early morning streets of Napa on foot and I put on a coin skirt and shook my booty (in a very uncoordinated-Kate-Gosselin-on-Dancing-with-the-Stars kind of way).

There was a gorgeously delicious breakfast buffet in the conference room at 8:00, but after our workouts showers were quite necessary so we didn’t make it down to the conference room until about 8:50. There was still plenty of food, but I missed out on morning socializing.

At 9:00 Terry Wheatley, our organizer and hostess extraordinaire gave opening remarks that were emotional and quite inspiring. She spoke of her vision for the Wine Sisterhood and quoted Walt Disney when she said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Terry Wheatley Wine Sisterhood
Terry Wheatley talks about big dreams

Then Terry gave a shout out and congratulations to a Pinterest winner…

named Katie

Katie brought her husband to the girl’s trip with her because he is her best friend blah blah blah.

What the… What about ME?! I’m a Pinterest winner too! Who loves to be the center of attention. Don’t I get a shout-out or a crown or something?

Katie of Hems for Her
Curtis and Katie at the flapper party at Raymond Vineyards

Katie obviously got the shout out because she is younger and cuter than me and the fact that she brought her best-friend-husband is just adorable right? Whatever Katie! (I’m just kidding – Katie is awesome. And she has a beautiful fashion blog called Hems for Her. You should check it out.)

Wine Sisterhood Pinterest winners
Two happy Pinterest Winners (I think I look drunk in this photo, but afterall it was taken at 11:30 AM!)

At 9:30 we listened to our first keynote speaker, Digital Diva Aliza Sherman, talk about all the fabulous phone apps that are available right now. Aliza is a great speaker and had fantastic information. Some of the apps she told us about were Drink-u-lator, an app that helps you know how much wine to buy when you’re planning a party (hint – it’s not a bottle per person!); Trover, a sort-of Instagram meets Trip Advisor; and Foodspotting, a sort-of Instagram meets FourSquare. I learned so much from her. Mostly, that I have a really lame phone. (I actually already knew that.)

Aliza-Sherman
Aliza Sherman talks apps

At 10:30 (yes in the morning) it was time for Bubble University. Translation: Sparkling Wine Tasting. (Now we are talking!)

The bubbly Leslie Sbrocco guided us through our tasting. (Yes, that pun was intended!)

Leslie is an emmy-award winning television host and Today Show Contributor and my new girl-crush. Leslie told us about getting the HUGE tattoo of a glass of  rosé sparkling wine on her calf, the different types of sparkling wine, what food to pair sparkling wine with (in her opinion all) and showed us how to saber a champagne (or sparkling wine) bottle. (That means pop the cork with a saber. It’s super-cool. Check out a 6-second video posted by Girlfriendology of Leslie sabering a bottle of sparkling rose here.)

Sparkling-wine-tasting
The fabulous Leslie Sbrocco schools the Wine Sisterhood on Sparkling Wine

After the sparkling wine tasting we broke off into two groups: Mischief Makers and Drama Queens – named after two of the Middle Sister wines and boarded luxury mini-buses for food and wine tastings aplenty. I was in the Mischief Maker group. (Oh don’t act all surprised by that – I am totally not a Drama Queen!) The groups would flip itineraries the next day.

The Mischief Makers went to a restaurant called Bistro Don Giovanni’s for lunch. It was Oh-my-god-I-feel-like-I’m-in-Italy delicious! We were given a four-course meal and a white and a red choice of Don Giovanni’s own estate grown wines. (So what if I chose both – be quiet!) One of the many things we talked about during lunch was the importance of a great wine label. We loved the label for Gio, Don Giovanni’s Sangiovese.

Don-Giovanni-Napa
Good times and great lunch with some winesisters – Lisa (@belvinowinery) and Sue (@kaysyrah) at Don Giovanni

After our lunch we waddled onto the bus to head to our first winery of the day.

Chappellet 

Our tour of Chappellet Winery was given by their Director of Hospitality, Candice Pannetier.  Candice gave us a tour of the barrel storage room and vineyards and told us the history of the family-owned winery and its owners, Donn and Molly Chappellet. Founded in 1967, the winery is located in Pritchard Hill and was one of the first wineries to pioneer high-elevation hillside planting. I don’t know what any of the means, but whatever it is they’re doing over at Chappellet, they are doing it right – this wine is crazy good. The winery is now run by three of the Chappellet children, but we had the privilege of meeting Molly Chappellet. She was an extraordinary woman with such a warm and lovely presence about her. She was so gracious and sophisticated and beautiful it felt like meeting royalty. (And I’m sure in Napa she is akin to royalty.)

Tastings at Chappellet can be booked here and start at $25.

Chappellet-vineyards
Beautiful Chappellet
Chappellet wine pour
More wine please Candice!
Wine sisterhood at Chappellet
Time for more wine!
Molly-Chappellet
Napa royalty, Molly Chappellet tells us about her beautiful winery
Chappellet wines
Yes please!

During lunch and the bus ride and walking around the Chappellet, I got to know some of the women in my group a little better. One of the best things about this trip was the amazing women I met from all over the country. Two of them were Debba Haupert of Girlfriendology and Beth Robeson of Healthy Kids Fast. Debba and Beth were both smart and interesting and funny. (Love them! Do yourselves a favor and check out their websites.)

Quintessa

Our next stop was Quintessa Winery.  When Agustin and Valeria Huneeus purchased the property for this winery in 1989 it was one of the few estates in Napa Valley that had never been planted to grapes. (I met Dave in 1989 and loved that Quintessa was established the same year we were.)

Our tour was given by Gwen McGill, their Director of Marketing, who showed us their beautiful grounds that includes a lake, five hills, a river and two forests. Not only were the grounds beautiful and the wine fantastic (we tasted the Illumination Sauvignon Blanc ($40), their Quintessa 2009 ($145) and Quintessa 2008 ($150) – hello!), but the vineyard is farmed entirely with biodynamic and organic techniques. We also tasted three different cheeses including this Seascape cheese from the Central Coast Creamy that was so ridiculously good I’m seriously considering having some shipped to my house even though it’s $17/pound. (Yes, it’s that good!) I was swooning over Quintessa.

Tastings are $65 and can be booked here.

Quintessa Gwen McGill
Gwen McGil pours Illumination Sauvignon Blanc
Quintessa
Gorgeous!
Quintessa Lake
What a view!

The Kitchen Door

Next we headed to The Kitchen Door for dinner. (You know, because we were so hungry.)

The Kitchen Door is located in the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa and is definitely a must-visit destination. The restaurant was closed for our party and chefs Todd Humphries and Christoper Litts made a special menu for our dinner.

First appetizers were passed around – Gourgeres Stuffed with Spinach and Mornay Sauce (think creamed spinach stuffed into a little bite-sized pastry), Deviled Eggs with Wasabi Tobiko (um, yum!), Salmon Pastrami with Sauerkraut on a Rye Crouton (ridiculous!) and Demitasse of Mushroom Soup (best mushroom soup I’ve ever had). Is your mouth watering yet? We still had three courses to go!

1st course
Spinach Salad with Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese, Shaved Apples, Toasted Walnuts and a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Entree
Pot Roast – Whole roasted center cut beef shoulder with garden vegetables and fresh grated horse radish.
(a vegetarian option was offered, but who wants that?)

Dessert
Bettermilk Panna Cotta with Sour Cherry Compote (Oh. My. Gawd. So good!)

Wine
2011 Tablas Creek, Patelin de Tablis Blanc, Paso Robles, CA
Unti, Rose of Grenache/Mourvedre, Dry Creek, CA
2008 Six Sigma, Tempranillo, Lake County, CA
2010 Bonny Doon, Old Vine Field Blend, ‘Contra’, Santa Cruz, CA

I chose the Bonny Doon ‘Contra’. It was excellent.

Our hotel was only two blocks away so the buses left after dropping us off and when we finished dinner we all walked home. I don’t think the walking home, the morning’s Zumba class, or all the walking we did around the vineyards was nearly enough to keep this food and wine from sticking to my middle-aged middle -but who cares? I was in foodie-food and wine-snob heaven.  So different from my $7-Costco-and-fake-it-like-you-made-it-Trader-Joe’s-frozen-dinner regular existence.

Kitchen-Door-Napa
The Kitchen Door – you MUST eat here when you are in Napa

Stay tuned for Day Three. Could it be any better? Maybe…

So, I Won This Contest on Pinterest…

That’s right – I won a contest on Pinterest. And you should be jealous. Because it was freaking awesome.

That sounds a little snotty doesn’t it? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out that way. I’m not trying to brag (much), it’s just that – WOW – this was really super fantastic and I really, really have to share.

Last year I found out about this contest from Middle Sister Wines on Pinterest. You had to pin a picture of one of their new wines –Rebel Red, Drama Queen, Wild One or Mischief Maker- and where you spotted it (or bought it) onto a pinboard on Pinterest. The prize was a trip for two to Napa for the 2nd annual Wine Sisterhood Gathering. I had no idea what the Wine Sisterhood Gathering was, but I knew I wanted to win. I mean a free trip to Napa with a girlfriend – what could be better? (It turns out nothing! Could be better, I mean. Because this trip was the bomb!)

Here is the photo I pinned:

Pinterest-Contest-Winner
This may be a crappy photo of me, but it won me a trip to Napa!

Yeah, it’s a pretty sucky picture of me. In fact, I almost didn’t post it because I really didn’t like it. But I’m so glad I did. I mean, who needs dignity when free wine and travel are involved?

What exactly is the Wine Sisterhood Gathering? It was a three-day conference featuring interactive workshops, winery visits, ridiculous dining experiences, and time to mingle with influential women from a variety of industries and backgrounds. Translation: Wine tasting + gourmet food + amazing women = AWESOME!

I was a good friend to one and a bad friend to many when I chose my friend Jennifer to go to Napa with me. (Sorry everyone else – really!)

It started on Sunday, March 3, when Jennifer and I flew to Napa on a teeny tiny airplane.

small-airplane
Yikes! That is one small airplane!

Once we landed at SFO were met by a stretch limo (that I’m pretty sure was bigger than the plane) that whisked us away to the fabulous Andaz Napa Hotel. We shared our limo with three amazing women who had flown in together from the East Coast – Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno from the fantastic better-than-Martha-Stewart party planning blog Party Bluprints, and Carol Cain from the very cool (I wish it was my) travel blog Girl Gone Travel. We chatted the entire hour-long limo ride and really hit it off. These ladies are FAB!

Limo-ride
My chariot awaits!

When we arrived at the hotel our rooms weren’t ready yet (we arrived before official check-in time) and everyone was starving, so the five of us had lunch two doors down at a restaurant called Tarla Mediterranean Grill. I chose their crab sandwich which was basically a BLT with avocado and lump crab meat on ciabatta bread. So in a word – YUM!

crab sandwich
Lump meat crab sandwich – like a BLT on crack!

When we went back to the hotel we had to wait a little longer for our room so we checked in with the sisterhood and each got this awesome bag full of swag with items that can  be purchased at the Wine Sisterhood store in the near future.

swag
What an awesome gift bag!

We sat in the hotel lobby and enjoyed a complimentary (and very delicious) glass of John Anthony 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. I’m telling you – I could get used to the Napa lifestyle. We were given a beautiful double king room that I was too lame to remember to take pictures of.

So here’s one I stole from the Internet. (It’s from their website – I don’t think they’ll mind!)

Andaz-hotel
Oh yeah!

After relaxing for a short while we changed into flapper(ish) outfits because we were headed to the speakeasy at Raymond Vineyards Winery.

Raymond Vineyards – what a trip. We are talking crazy good wine and a winery that David Lynch could have created. I’m telling you this place was surreal. Our host, Jean-Charles Boisset (who was wearing a purple velvet suit) greeted us and told us the history of the winery in the red room.

Jean-Charles Boisset
Our wonderful host at Raymond Vineyards
Raymond-vineyards-speakeasy
The red room at Raymond Vineyards (yes, this is the best picture I have – sorry!)

We then headed to the Crystal Cellar for an appetizer dinner. (My favorite kind!)

Raymond-Vineyars-Crystal-Cellar
David Lynch has nothing on Jean-Charles Boisset

Here I am enjoying some yummy apps with my new friends…

Lorraine Robertson, Carol Cain, me, Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno
Lorraine Robertson, Carol Cain, me, Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno

BTW – side note… speaking of awesome women – do you see the 1st person in this picture? Her name is Lorraine Robertson and she ran a marathon earlier in the day. Yes, you read that right. Lorraine flew in from Atlanta on Saturday, ran a marathon Sunday morning and Sunday evening partied like a rockstar. She is my idol. Seriously!

Off of the Crystal Cellar was the Barrel room. And it was full of cheese.

Raymond-vineyards-barrel-room
If I died, this would be my heaven!

And olives…

party-food

and other yummy things…

party food

While we were in the barrel room Jean-Charles came in and offered a back-room tour of the place. Unfortunately I was treating the table in the barrel room like a feed bag and did not see my friends go. Dawn and Elizabeth told me I really missed out. Boo! (But seriously, can you blame me? Look at all that cheese!)

cheese plate
Get in my belly!

After much eating and drinking and winery exploring the Wine Sisters were done and ready to retire. We had get to bed at a decent hour to gear up for the next day that involved 7AM Zumba, a 10:30 AM champagne tasting and more food and wine than even someone who uses a cheese table as a feedbag would have thought possible.

Stay tuned to find out all about it…

*photo of Jean-Charles Boisset courtesy of Sarah Nelson.

Home

Last night I returned home from a 4-day girl’s weekend. (Well, it was a Sunday – Wednesday, does that make it a week beginning?)

It was a fabulous trip to Napa that I will be writing about all next week to fill you in on my decadent wine and food gluttony, but for now, I am just happy to be home, back to the normalcy of my house with Dave and the kids.

Even though when I walked into my bedroom I was greeted with this…

laundry-hamper
Guess what I’ll be doing today

And then I went to the kitchen and found that all the sports water bottles I washed on Saturday night and left in the sink were still there. Because apparently I’m the only one who knows how to put them away. Funny, everyone seems to know where to find them in the cupboard when they need them. (I would have put them away myself before I left, but I had an early flight on Sunday morning.)

dishes-in-a-sink
Sigh…

At the beginning of the week I was making new connections and meeting new friends. I was tasting wine paired with gourmet food and cheese starting at 10:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night and eating four-course five-star meals (and have the extra five pounds to prove it). I had a king-size bed and four big pillows All. To. Myself.

wine-and-food-pairing
I could get used to this!

And it was all so wonderful.

But today… that glamorous life is over.

Today will be filled with unpacking and laundry. Cooking and cleaning up messes. Catching up on my work and fighting over Marley’s homework.

It’s back to the grind. Back to normal. Back to my real life. (Did I mention the laundry?)

And though it doesn’t make sense on paper (or computer screen), as wonderful as Napa is, it seemed a little bit like Oz.

And like Dorothy said…

There’s no place like home.