Mom's Fabulous Fiftieth in Napa

Last weekend, Isaac and I headed to Napa for my mom's fiftieth birthday weekend. We left the girls with Grandma Sunshine, and hopped on a plane early Thursday morning.

We landed in Oakland and had a couple of hours before we had to be in Napa. We took our time driving there, and did a little sight seeing, which included the Oracle Arena.

After checking in to our hotel and freshening up in our room for a bit, we met everyone down by the hotel bar. Friends and family started rolling in, and we had a beautiful dinner at Ristorante Allegria to welcome everyone to Napa. 

The next morning, a shuttle bus picked us all up at the hotel to start our day of wine tours.

First up was Robert Mondavi. This was my favorite vineyard of the day, because it was absolutely beautiful and our tour guide was fabulous.

(The whole crew!)

We saw so many cool things there including this 16th century wine press and the most amazing views of the vineyard.

Inside, our tour guide taught us all about wine making and sampling and gave us a couple of varieties to try.

Geni told Chad to stand next to this giant barrel, so you could have a frame of reference to see just how huge it was.

These barrels were gorgeous, and we were told that they line them up with lasers to get them perfect. (Sounds like my kind of place.)

After a few samples, we headed outside and enjoyed some more beautiful scenery.

(Eleven-and-a-half weeks pregnant!)

We even found Isaac's twin in statue form.

Next up was Beringer Vineyards. This place was also beautiful, but our guide was short and quick and didn't explain much.

They did have lots of giant things like this tree and the biggest pumpkin ever.

The caves were awesome, and we were able to sample a couple of wines inside. Isaac helped himself to a giant barrel of wine.

After the tour, we had an amazing lunch in their redwood grove. The food was amazing, and you can't beat the scenery. These trees are over one hundred years old! 

This was easily the greatest bruschetta I've ever had. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.

After the best lunch ever, we were whisked away to Sterling Vineyards. The best part about this one was that we got to ride a gondola to the top of the mountain where the vineyard sits. The views were incredible.

Aunt Mary Jo and Isaac tried playing some music for us. This tour was fun, because we were able to go at our own pace, but there was no guide, so we didn't really learn anything.

That night, we had dinner at a local pizza joint, Fillipi's Pizza Grotto. It was so delicious, and we had to walk through downtown Napa to get there, which was also fun.

Saturday, we drove to Castello di Amorosa. We saw tons of hot air balloons on the way. I thought it would be so fun to ride one and see all of the vineyards from a different point of view, but we had a castle tour to get to.

The castle was easily my favorite part of the trip. There were animals out front that greeted us, so I had to take pictures for the girls. 

The castle was nothing short of amazing. Dario Sattui had every stone hand chiseled, hundred year old wood and iron brought in from Italy, and spent forty-four million on materials alone to build the place. Although it hasn't been around for that long, every piece of it has history.

We split into two groups to begin our tours. The guide here was so knowledgeable, and taught us so much about their wine making process. They are not a commercial winery, so the only way to get their wines is to become a wine club member.

This courtyard was so pretty. It was easy to imagine a huge party here. Apparently, they have special events every holiday for their members, and the New Year's Gatsby party sounds like a great time.

We saw all of their barrels and where/how the wine is fermented.

Underneath the castle is tunnel after tunnel full of wine barrels and ancient artifacts. Walking through it left you speechless.

After our tour, we were able to taste any six wines we wanted and enjoy this meat and cheese tray. We had so much fun sampling them all. Every wine we tasted was better than the one before it, so Isaac insisted that we become wine club members.

After signing up and walking around the castle a little more, we drove back to Beringer to stop in the gift shop. The trees entering the vineyards are just beautiful.

We got back to the hotel and decided to go grab some lunch at a Mexican restaurant down the street. On the way back, we stopped in this chocolate and ice cream factory. They make their own ice cream, and it was delicious.

That night, we had the big birthday dinner party at Jamieson Ranch. The shuttle picked us up to take us there after we all got ready in our rooms.

The venue was perfect. Geni, Allison, and I snuck upstairs to put some finishing touches on the party room before everyone filled it.

The cake was so pretty, and they had a huge bottle of wine for us all to sign. The room was decorated beautifully.

Once it was all set up, we headed back downstairs to join our guys on the lawn. 

We spent the rest of the night dancing, eating, and laughing. With so many fun friends and family all around, it was hard not to have a good time. This trip was so much fun. Everyone had a blast, and Mom had a fabulous fiftieth birthday celebration. We love you, Mom!
(I would say Happy Birthday, but we'll celebrate again in December!)

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