It was a three hour drive from Carmel to our hotel in the Russian River Valley. Dwight and I have always had some of our best conversations in the car and it was so nice to have a quiet drive with the most stunning scenery to just talk. We listened to a few podcasts and dreamed about future hopes and plans. A few notable things I enjoyed about that drive: the endless farmlands, the beautiful bridge connecting Oakland to the Santa Rosa area and the blueish green color of the bay water.
Our first night in the wine country was spent in the Russian River Valley which is just northwest of the Napa Valley but is still a heavy wine growing region. We stayed at the Farmhouse Inn which was probably my most anticipated resort we were planning to visit. The pictures alone looked like something out of my design dreams with white linen slipcovers and metal pitched rooflines. It was a small property that truly felt like our own little farmstead complete with a historic farmhouse and the cutest chicken coop. Upon checking in, we were encouraged to take our own samples of soaps, bath salts and scrubs to enjoy. All their products used on property are made by a local company called Sumbody. I was so in love with the scent of these items that I took home their lotion and room spray. It's like the perfect vanilla-ey blend that is just heavenly.
Our room was stunning and true to the theme of a farmhouse. Tons of white, wood and natural elements filled the space. A sliding barn door was used for the closet and the bathroom was everything I would hope to have in my own bathroom: marble floors, a steam shower, heated floors, a jet tub and beautiful basin sinks. The fireplace in the room was also accessible from outside on our patio and we enjoyed their complimentary snacks and wine out there. I wish I could remember the name of the little local general store their snacks came from because I could eat the spicy pecans and rosemary almonds from there all.day.every.day. (Edit: i think it was called JimTown Store). They paid attention to the tiniest of details like a personalized sign welcoming us and the cutest matchbox and candles by the bed.
We enjoyed a little time by the pool shortly after checking in before dinner. The weather was perfect so I lounged in a chair while watching Dwight swim laps and have his own (what I thought was) personal breath holding competition. He later corrected me and said that was not was he was doing but rather just "sinking to the bottom." He keeps me laughing!
We had dinner at Mustards in Oakville that evening as it came highly recommended to use by multiple people. It's a great casual place with high quality food. It was about a 45 min drive from our hotel but the route was stunning as we wound through the hills at dusk with the sunlight peaking through the trees. We listened to a lot of Ben Rector while on the road as two of the songs of his upcoming album were released a few days before we left and he really is the perfect background music to accompany a good road trip.
I had the hanger steak and Dwight had the ribs. We both agreed that I won best selection that evening...I was literally licking my plate. I'm calling it the best steak I've ever had and had to loosen the sash on my dress more and more as the meal went on! That's when you know you've had an amazing meal! We decided to skip dessert at Mustard’s as Farmhouse Inn provides smores with homemade marshmallows and amazing chocolate to the guests to roast every evening. It was a chilly night so sitting around the fire was the perfect way to end the day. Oh, and I had an awkward exchange with the front desk attendant when I returned our roasting skewers and didn't realize it was because I had a giant remnant of leftover marshmallow on my chin until I got back to our room...just keeping me humble!
We had breakfast on property in the old farmhouse and the food was amazing. I knew I needed to have their pastry of the day when I heard they had an in-house pastry chef making things fresh and I was not wrong! We spent the remainder of the morning exploring around the property, hanging out at the pool and touring the spa. We didn't have any treatments but it was one of the most beautiful and unique spas I have seen. They designed it to resemble a horse barn and each treatment room had the most incredible hand painted horses. I was sad to leave the Farmhouse Inn and hope to be back one day.
Next we went to Far Niente winery for our first tasting of the trip. This winery is unique for many reasons but the grounds are absolutely spectacular. The owner was originally in the nursery business in Oklahoma so it was only appropriate for the winery to reflect this with incredible landscaping and floral design. They also age their wine underground in caves which is a really neat experience to get to walk through. I couldn't get over the smell of the oak barrels down there...so amazing.
The actual tasting was really fun and informative and the conversation was enjoyable with the other guests in our tasting group. I should mention that Dwight doesn't even really like wine so the cheese was the highlight of the tasting for him! ha! Such a good husband to participate in something he knows I enjoy even though he doesn't love it himself. I loved their chardonnay which was a first for me as I am a pretty loyal to cabernet sauvignon and their dessert wine, Dolche, was incredible (again, not a dessert wine drinker but this was amazing).
We checked into our next hotel for the evening, Solage which was in Calistoga. Calistoga is a smaller town tucked up in the mountains right next to Napa Valley and allows you to feel a bit more secluded from the main areas of Napa. The property was so big that they give you bikes to use as transportation around the grounds. I always imagined riding a bike through the vineyards in Napa valley so this was as close as I got this trip! ha! Our room was a little cabin with industrial modern decor. Not my favorite style but it was still cozy with a little corner fireplace. The spa was incredible here and I could have stayed in the all white lounge area forever. There are also these really amazing geothermal pools you can soak in with a beautiful view of the hills as the backdrop. This property also provides access to a Mercedes so we obviously took advantage of another spin in a little sports car through the vineyards!
Dinner was at Bouchon that evening in Yountville...our first taste of food by the infamous Thomas Keller! This was a must eat location for us and it did not disappoint. Dwight learned from my selection skills the previous night and selected steak and I had rainbow trout. Steak won out again (Dwight claims its the best he's ever had) and I really enjoyed my dish too. We were so stuffed but had to have dessert and chose the profiteroles which are these little donut hole looking pastries filled with ice cream and then covered in a warm chocolate sauce....are you salivating yet?!?
I'll stop here and finish out the last two days on the final post wrapping up this trip recap soon.