Day of Winetasting

San Francisco Travel Blog

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Lombard Street - the "crooked street".

I am a total morning person (much to my friends' chagrin) so I tried to be as quiet as possible while eating breakfast and showering.  Luckily Sybil (iheart2travel) got up too so we were able to take a morning walk around the neighborhood.  We walked up and down Lombard Street ("crooked street") which brought up fun memories from college.  On my very first trip to SF with friends in college, my friends sped down this street multiple times one late night – not sure why it's sooo amusing, but it really is.  It must be a nightmare for the people who live around there – constant tourists driving down your street for a "thrill ride" and tourists hovering around your corner to take pictures of Coit Tower and the bridge.  But it really is quite beautiful and fun so I still recommend a trip up here – it's worth it, but just be mindful not to be a nuisance to the residents.

 

We had scheduled a private driver to take us to Sonoma and Napa for a day of wine tasting – just so we could all partake in the tastings but still be responsible.

In Sonoma - gorgeous wine country.
  Our driver (Ed) was very prompt, very professional and very nice (see review).  We drove out of the city, past Sausalito (lovely little area) and into a sunnier climate and a wide open landscape.  After about an hour we could spot beautiful wineries all around – greenness everywhere! 

 

Our first stop was Gloria Ferrer, which is well known for its sparkling wines and champagne caves.  I'm not a huge sparkling wine fan, but it was nice to start the day out slowly.  I tried the rose, which was pleasant.  The view from the outside patio was serene and lovely, but I wasn't really impressed with the winery itself – there was an air of self importance that didn't seem deserved.  Also, they only allowed tastings by the glass – which seemed silly – who can drink that much champagne at 11am?  The accompanying almonds were a good touch – roasted with a touch of paprika smokiness.

Drinking rose at Gloria Ferrer (gorgeous patio & interesting champagne caves).
  As we stepped out of the tasting area, our driver was there at the ready – I think he was psychic! 

 

Our next stop was my favorite – Viansa – like a lovely Italian villa atop the hill.  I had been here a few years ago but this time I was able to appreciate it more – the beautiful fountains, flowers and landscaping.  They also have an outdoor pizza oven (but I wasn't able to get pizza since we had lunch plans – sigh).  The basic tasting consisted of tastes of 4 wines for $5 – quite a good deal – especially since our guy (Dave) let us taste about 7 wines and then waived the charge at the end.  He was very enjoyable and enthusiastic – apparently he is an investment banker who comes out to work at the winery a few days a month for "fun".  Cool, huh?  Granted, we did buy lots of wine and food afterwards, but he didn't know that (or perhaps he could guess …)  … We particularly liked one of the zinfandels so we got some of that … but the true highlight of a visit to Viansa is the amazing gourmet foods – vinegars, olive oils, savory spreads, sweet spreads … it's quite a haven of free samples!  I think I ended up with caramel sauce, peach champagne vinegar and a smoked mozzarella spread … I'm sure I got more but can't remember now.

Viansa - a wonderful winery with delicious gourmet foods.
  Everything was delicious!  We didn't really want to leave …

 

After what seemed like hours in Viansa, we headed to Stag's Leap – another fun tasting with Brian (or was it Ryan?) – anyways, we really liked one of the sauvignon blancs (actually it wasn't part of the normal tasting but he wanted us to try some more) … we also bought some wine here and the tasting fees were waived again.  Yeah!

 

Our next stop was lunch at Auberge du Soleil.  Very pretty place but I wasn't that impressed by the food so I'm passing on writing a review.  I think people come here for the view from the patio – but it was a nice stop.

 

As the day was getting late and we had to be back into the city before 4pm, we headed back.

A pretty fountain at Viansa - the entire place looks like a rustic Italian villa.
  I was very sleepy but in the moments of consciousness I had, I heard snatchs of conversation, including, Ed's advice on girl/guy relations.  Very amusing….

 

For dinner we went to Presidio Social Club (after another uphill battle in trying to hail a cab) - I guess it used to be a social club or gun club for the military folk out in the Presidio – the décor still retained many remnants of the old club.  Interesting place, but sort of out of the way, and the food isn't good enough to make it a must-stop for foodies. 

 

After dinner, we lucked out and got a cab based on the waitress's advice.  We went to Slide – a dance club.
Funny sign :) and so true!
  I believe it was because of Sybil's cuteness that we were all able to get in without waiting in line and without cover (her powers extended to getting a guy friend in for free – amazing, huh?).  The club was a bit small, dark and dingy, but the music was super fun.  (Crowd was a bit iffy, however, but we were just there to dance so it didn't really matter.) 
J  After a few hours of dancing we headed off to sleep.
chris-in-sf says:
sounds like you two saw a lot and had fun!
Posted on: Sep 18, 2007
sybil says:
hurrah for wine tasting! :D
Posted on: Sep 17, 2007
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Lombard Street - the crooked stre…
Lombard Street - the "crooked str…
In Sonoma - gorgeous wine country.
In Sonoma - gorgeous wine country.
Drinking rose at Gloria Ferrer (go…
Drinking rose at Gloria Ferrer (g…
Viansa - a wonderful winery with d…
Viansa - a wonderful winery with …
A pretty fountain at Viansa - the …
A pretty fountain at Viansa - the…
Funny sign :) and so true!
Funny sign :) and so true!
Wine tasting at Viansa.
Wine tasting at Viansa.
Sybil in her Vanna White moment.
Sybil in her "Vanna White" moment.
Wine tasting at Stags Leap.
Wine tasting at Stag's Leap.
Lunch at Auberge du Soleil - very …
Lunch at Auberge du Soleil - very…
The view from Auberge du Soleils …
The view from Auberge du Soleil's…
My burger and a friends pasta - p…
My burger and a friend's pasta - …
Profiteroles - yum!  (pretty hard …
Profiteroles - yum! (pretty hard…
View of Coit Tower from Lombard an…
View of Coit Tower from Lombard a…
The crooked street with a line o…
The "crooked street" with a line …
Dinner at the Presidio Social Club.
Dinner at the Presidio Social Club.
Butter lettuce & pear salad with c…
Butter lettuce & pear salad with …
Steak with herbed butter and fries.
Steak with herbed butter and fries.
The slide at the club, Slide.
The slide at the club, Slide.
San Francisco General Tips & Advice review
We arranged for a private SUV and driver for our wine tasting adventure through "Private Limousine Service". Our driver, Ed Abrahamyan, was awesome! … read entire review