red, red wine country

The weather has turned chilly and gray lately, but just before Thanksgiving, Seb and I had one perfect, warm, sunny day in wine country. It was mid-November, but nearly 80 degrees up in Healdsburg, the site of our first stop. Four years ago, on my first trip to wine country with my friends Kelly and Noah (Springfield natives who live in SF), we ended up at this adorable general store with a tiny attached bar and a big front porch made for relaxing with a pint of beer while looking out over the vineyards across the street. I've wanted to return ever since, so we headed straight there for the first of our two lunches that day. It was packed, but we managed to snag a picnic table.

First time at Dry Creek with Kelly+Noah in 2006. No idea who the two locals are.

After our first lunch of a shared sandwich at Dry Creek, we left Healdsburg and headed back down south towards Napa, driving through Calistoga and St. Helena on the way. The drive was even more stunning than usual; wine country is gorgeous enough in the spring and summer when the vines are green, but I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the vines in the fall. The grapes themselves were off and crushed, but the leaves were amazing shades of red and gold.

St. Helena was the site of our second lunch, at Gott's Roadside, formerly known as Taylor's Refresher, a delicious burger-and-fries joint that also has a location in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

From St. Helena, we continued down to Napa and then onto Sonoma for a couple of stops at actual wineries
we had been in wine country for hours, but hadn't managed to actually taste any wine yet. Before heading back home across the Golden Gate Bridge, we stopped at Cline Cellars' cute farmhouse-style tasting room for a taste of their Viognier and their Ancient Vines wine from some the oldest vines in California, a few of which have been around since 1890.

land's end

As I mentioned before back in August, the beautiful Legion of Honor museum in Lincoln Park, on the northwest edge of the peninsula that is San Francisco, boasts great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the beginning of the bay. What I didn't know until a few weeks ago is that there is a fabulous little hiking trail past the museum, along the edge of the water. It's called Land's End, and for good reason. You may be in a very large, bustling American city, but you wouldn't know it when you step onto the trail. We started at Point Lobos, where the historic Cliff House restaurant perches above the Pacific. We headed north, into Lincoln Park, and followed the trail as it curved east toward the Golden Gate Bridge. We were rewarded with fantastic views of the bridge from a lesser-seen angle. All this is right in the city. Who knew?

café art

A while ago, my friend Jen and I met up at a café in an interesting part of town. I was trying to pick a place equidistant between our two houses, but ended up in a neighborhood that I probably wouldn't have wanted to walk through by myself at night. Luckily, it was mid-morning, so all was fine. Apparently, while we were hanging out and chatting to each other, we were being sketched. Did I notice there was a man in the cafe with a small easel who appeared to be drawing? Yes. Did I realize he was drawing us? Um, definitely not. As we were putting on our jackets and preparing to leave, he came over, showed us the sketch, and said we could have it...for $20. I scoffed. $20 for a small black-and-white sketch in some random café? I don't think so. Jen, however, is much nicer than me, I guess. She bought it, took it home and scanned it into her computer. It's kind of nice, but I'm not thrilled with the likeness. I do not believe my nose is that large.