Napa: “Is this the California Sun they told us about?”

Wine country is just a short drive from San Francisco, but it’s about 20 degrees hotter and a drastic change of scenery. We stopped in Napa during our first big road trip and took a last-minute wine tour with Platypus Tours, and in a fit of nostalgia, we decided to use them the second time around. The tour is a much better alternative to driving our vino-sipping selves around hilly vineyards, and it lacks the pretentious, wine-snob attitude that some companies have. Our group of friends joined a few additional couples (two visiting from abroad) and hopped around to 4 wineries for tasting. The couple from England chatted with enthusiasm about their recent trip to NYC and how much they loved shopping at Macy’s. It’s always interesting to me to hear what excites people about the city I live in, especially because the crowds at Macy’s fill me with enormous angst. I have a lot of “anti-girl” indifference to shopping that makes it harder for me to see the fun in such things. The other couple, by contrast, just kept marveling at the difference in temperature in lush Napa Valley compared with breezy San Francisco.

“Is this the ‘California sun’ they all told us about??”

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The day continued at a bit of a rushed pace since our group needed to be dropped off at the Vallejo Ferry Terminal at 5pm to catch a boat back to San Fran. At a few points, we had to pound our (generous) tasting pours like college pub-crawlers, with little memory of the style and genre of wine we were actually consuming. Despite a slightly more detached experience this time around, we managed to leave with 7 bottles (including 3 chardonnays, even though neither of us has ever ordered it at a restaurant) and no idea as to how we would manage to cram them into our checked luggage. Act first, plan later. Also, be weary of bringing a credit card on an activity where you are drinking wines with high alcohol content.

The day was relaxed and easy, and despite the fact that we’ve gone on a handful of wine tours in the past, we managed to learn a few new facts. For instance, the California drought has little effect on wine production, since you don’t actually need a lot of water to grow wine grapes (just to repair your body after drinking too much of it). Also, the microclimates around the valley create diverse growing conditions that mean that certain varieties of grape have to be contained to a small patch of land. We sat and listened to the winemakers’ talks intensely, like alcohol-fueled school children.

By the end of the day, we were slightly sloppier than anticipated and decided that it was a good idea to not only order wine on the 50-minute boat ride back across the bay, but to also consume an entire additional bottle at dinner between the group (totally unnecessary). The evening ended with us somehow managing to run into another tour couple at the same restaurant in San Francisco. We sent a glass of red to their table.

The next day, we dragged our friends all over the city visiting various silly, but crucially important sites, such as the scene from the Full House opening credits and the Mrs. Doubtfire home. Katie sat on the hill across from the Painted Ladies (houses from the opening credits) and played the theme song out loud on her phone for a solid 5 minutes. We were permitted to move on only after ensuring that our friends were thoroughly embarrassed. The night concluded with a strenuous walk (hike) up to Nob Hill for cocktails at Top of the Mark, a touristy but shockingly pretty spot with a panoramic city view. It was hard to leave, but the draw of Hawaii sunshine softened the blow.

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