A Birthday and Wine Country

Although it was a lower key birthday this year, having dinner with a friend at Red Robin, there was no shortage of amazing food and world-class wines over the last few weeks. My time started with a day trip to Newport Beach for meetings. Although I spent less than 12 hours in Orange County, watching the sunset over Newport Harbor never gets old and made the trip worth it (as did some popcorn with bacon, pizza fries, and a beer or two). My birthday was officially celebrated with a burger at Red Robin, but there was also my favorite wrap at Chick-Fil-A, fajitas and Texas fries at Chili's, holiday mini-golf at Golfland-SunSplash, and a few much needed runs.

Then it was time to meet with a few colleagues from out-of-state that had never been to Napa. It was my challenge to help them experience everything that The Meritage had to offer, while also showcasing the beauty that is the Napa Valley. Not one to shy away from challenges, I gladly accepted, and put together a two day itinerary that included a full resort tour, a 12 course chef's tasting menu at Siena, the launch party for Napa Smith Brewery's West Coast IPA on day one. Day two started with breakfast and a few presentations, then a winery/barrel room tour and tasting with Trinitas Cellars,  a tour of Oxbow Public Market, the Napa Riverfront and Napa Valley Welcome Center, downtown Napa, and a sparkling wine tasting at Domaine Carneros. Obviously, we had to wrap up the night with bowling and a few extra drinks at Crush Ultra Lounge, before heading to Siena for dessert. After most of the group left early Saturday morning our client advocate had planned to stay through the weekend, so I was able to extend my reservation with another team member and we all enjoyed Saturday and Sunday touring a few of the wineries and restaurants that make Napa so special. We started with breakfast at Jax White Mule Diner, then were off to Peju, Miner Family Winery, Paraduxx, and lunch at R+D Kitchen. We headed back to Domaine Carneros for one last wine and sparkling tasting, before getting back to downtown Napa. As my co-worker had to go back to the resort and get his dog, I took our client to Tarla for a few appetizers (you can never go wrong with flaming cheese), then we were back to The Meritage to try what has quickly become one of the favorite menu items ... a $24 burger. We split it in 1/4ths and still had trouble finishing our part. Sunday we took it easy by heading to Round Pond Estate for their wine and small bites pairing, plus were able to walk around their gardens and enjoy the picturesque views from their deck and second floor tasting room.

Then it was back to Sacramento and reality ... Beach Hut Deli for lunch (okay maybe I hadn't quite adjusted to reality), and a six-mile run before heading to Bayside for Sunday night church and the grocery store. Monday night I decided to put up my Christmas lights and tree (normally I do it the weekend after Thanksgiving, but it's supposed to rain). Fort Bradley will be festive for an extra week this year.
Photos for those with iPads.

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