Our Perfectly Sweet Getaway To Wine Country

Time to relive our beautiful Sonoma vacation with a little vacay recap for you all!

We took off on Saturday, April 24th, flying Southwest because our bags flew free and because we just LOVE traveling all day in those gosh darn peppy airplanes, listening to a rendition of “Walk the Line” all about peanuts over the intercom as we land. It took us 8 hours to get from Dallas to San Francisco, by way of San Diego. (Seriously, next time we’re paying the extra $50 for luggage and shaving 5 hours off the trip.)

When we finally landed at SFO and got our rental car around 3, we were starving. Up to that point, we only had peanuts pretzels and lemon drops to nom on. (The lemon drops were a life saver/puke preventative for me since my “morning sickness” decided to kick in THAT morning. Joy.) Earlier in the day, while we waited to board in Dallas, I used my trusty Iphone (aka- the device that saved my marriage while on vacation) to make early reservations at Boudin Bakery at Fisherman’s Wharf, per a reader’s suggestion (thanks!). We got there around 4:30, and we could smell the sourdough as we drove up. The setting was spectacular, the food was fantastic (Scott had a crab sandwich and I had, get this, OMGSOYUM Macaroni and Cheese with fresh crab), and the view was great! As we sat down and looked out the window overlooking the bay we both said at the same time, “Look! Alcatraz!”

We spent most of the meal discussing how we might attempt to escape Alcatraz and remarking that it just didn’t look *that* far away. Then we headed downstairs to the little Boudin Bakery market and picked up a couple loaves of bread to take with us. Scott also got a cup of Peet’s Coffee and we walked down to Pier 39, which was very touristy, but we were tourists and we loved it. We especially loved turning the corner and suddenly realizing what “that smell” was when we saw all the fat and happy sea lions lounging on floating docks.

We walked past all the street performers back to our car and headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge by way of the SCARIEST effing road we have ever, ever driven on. It felt like we were on a roller coaster, no lie. When we peaked at the top of the hill I saw people crossing at the bottom and had a mini anxiety attack (and I wasn’t even the one driving!).  San Francisco was a beautiful city, but I’m pretty sure I’d never make it there simply because of the steep peaks of the streets. We stopped for a photo opp. on the other side of the bridge…

(did I mention it was pretty freaking cold?) and then we were off to Sonoma! The drive was absolutely beautiful. It was so surreal to approach wine country, seeing all these vineyards and wineries dot the sides of the road. We also saw a lot of happy cows and grazing sheep. I was a little taken aback by how… organic and … uh… agricultural it was. It wasn’t nearly as commercial and developed as I was expecting, which was awesome.

We checked in at our rental, which we found on VRBO.com (thanks to another reader suggestion!). The apartment was so perfect for what we needed. Though it was part of a house the owners live in, it felt completely private. We had our own private driveway and entrance. The balcony was only partly private on one side, but that was never an issue. It was only 4 miles from Sonoma Plaza, where we spent a lot of time, and it had a full kitchen. Here is a link to the listing. The price was great ($130 to $110 a night) for what we got. Although we were exhausted (even though it was only 8:30 PST) we just had to go check out Sonoma Plaza when we got in. We drove down and took a quick walk around, then headed back to the apartment to crash.

Sunday started with brunch at The Girl & The Fig, a place on nearly every “must see, must eat” list about Sonoma I’d come across. Mmmm… it was so yummy. I had stuffed French toast and Scott had a simple but delicious omelet. Then we stopped in at the Sonoma Cheese Factory on the plaza. It was cheese heaven!! Rows and rows of cheese and salami, shelves of stuffed olives and crostini. We got a nice sharp cheddar, some salami and some lemon stuffed olives (yes, stuffed with lemons!), then headed out to some wineries.

The original plan was to check out V. Sattui first, but we couldn’t even turn into the parking lot, it was that packed, so we headed to some other place across the road. It was pretty unimpressive. I mean, it was really nice, very fancy, but uh… I didn’t go on vacation to be ignored by a snooty guy behind the counter. I didn’t go there to beg someone to set us up with a tasting. We left, and I’m glad we did because while I was a little afraid that was going to be the vibe everywhere we went, I was quickly proven otherwise. We had a great experience at St. Supery (I recognized them from following me on Twitter, and decided to stop in), where we shared our first tasting and purchased a bottle of chardonnay.  Then we finished the afternoon at Robert Mondavi where we took a really interesting 2 hour behind the scenes tour that ended with another tasting. I think this was one of the best parts of the trip. Our tour guide, Channing, was so charming and fun to listen to.

Monday we spent a lot of time in the car, on winding roads. It wasn’t a great combo for me, but the sights we saw made up for it. We drove out to Bodega Bay, just in time to grab some amazing clam chowder from Spud Point Crab Company. It felt like a very authentic experience, and the chowder was what dreams are made of.

We continued up the coast line for a little bit on our way to Healdsburg. It was one of the most beautiful parts of the country I have ever seen. We stopped to take pictures and collect a little driftwood.

We continued the drive, the small roads winding through redwoods, me threatening to puke. It was all very romantic.

Healdsburg was lovely, and we stopped in at the Kendall Jackson tasting room, in honor of our first born. That’s where we met the lovely man who bestowed his wisdom all about the “magic years” on us. Dinner Monday night was takeout pizza from a surprisingly delicious place called Gramma’s Pizza. We enjoyed it from the comfort of our own living room while watching The Blind Side.

By the time Tuesday rolled around, to be honest, we were done. We ate some more food, did some more window shopping, drove to Napa and had lunch, finally, at V. Sattui, but never really “did” anything. I wasn’t feeling too great, and, shockingly, we were sort of over wine. By the time our dinner reservations at Cafe La Haye rolled around, we were already stuffed from snacking out of boredom all day and had to bring most of it home with us, I’m sure a huge insult to the chef.

We left early Wednesday morning to beat traffic getting into San Francisco and sat down for some coffee and croissants at Tartine. I was surprised at the hipster vibe the place gave off. I felt like we were somewhere in Brooklyn, and of course, we stuck out like the tourists that we were. Everyone was really nice, though, and French. All these pretty French speaking girls who could correctly pronounce “pain au jambon.”

We arrived at the airport 3 freaking hours early for our flight, I drained my Iphone battery blogging, then we took off for our grand expedition accross the southwest region of the country on our Southwest plane, flying to San Diego, El Paso and San Antonio before finally landing in Dallas that night.

Our tummies were still full, our camera loaded with great pictures, our suitcase stuffed with pieces of broken driftwood and loaves of sourdough bread, our hearts were happy and we were ready to become parents of a 2 year old. It was… just… perfect. Thank you all so much for all the fantastic recommendations! I consulted my blog comments constantly while we were there. (And can I just say, my Iphone was a huge time/sanity/relationship saver the whole time.)

For those wondering, yes, I was 6 weeks pregnant at the time. Yes, I did share a few tastings and indulge in a couple 1/2 glasses of wine while there. In total, nothing close the the ridiculous amounts of alcohol I consumed the weekend before I found out I was pregnant with Kendall, and he’s just fine… unless you consider excessive nose picking a side effect of drinking while barely pregnant.

50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
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  1. Sounds so wonderful! I’m SO glad you got to eat at Boudin… LOVE. And V.Sattui… though I hate that it was so stupidly crowded when you were there. Wine Country is amazing… you’ll have to go back when you can REALLY go all out on the wine tasting! 😉

  2. We LOVE V. Sattui, great place to grab munchies a bottle of wine and go picnic. And we’re members at St. Supery, they make a ridiculously good Cab. I’m so jealous you got to go to wine country, even if you were preggers at the time ;).

  3. What a great trip. As a Northern Californian for the past 11 years (Lifelong Californian, but Southern California is very different), I am so happy you got to experience wine country, although wine country is really everwhere now. The food sounds delicious.

    And please don’t feel like you have to apologize or explain yourself for having wine here and there. I actually was in a wedding in Healdsburg the week before I found out I was pregnant, and drank SO incredibly much. Then I went to a work conference and drank way too much. And my baby is fine.

    My father is French, and in France it is still acceptable to have a glass of wine now and then when you’re pregnant. Once my husband read that in Wine Spectator, he stopped glaring at me when I took an occasional sip here and there while I was pregnant.

  4. I totally don’t think you have to explain yourself for the wine consumption while on your holiday. The lovely part of being an educated adult is making decisions for yourself.

    Your trip looked fab, I really love SF and have been many times and love each visit.

  5. Ha! My parents took us three kids along with them to Napa maybe 15 years ago, and we did that same Mondavi tour. At the end, Our tour guide asked if anyone had questions and my youngest brother, then about 3 or 4, raised his hand. The lady was so delighted that “the young gentleman” had a question, until he shouted “YEAH, ARE YOU DONE TALKING YET?!” My mom was horrified, but it’s one of my dad’s favorite stories. Even now, though, they refuse to my brothers back to run the Napa marathon. My mom’s afraid someone will recognize us 🙂

    • Ha! Yeah, that was a pretty long tour. You have to be really into the whole wine making process to appreciate it, I think. Too funny.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful trip, except for the m/s. I’m in desperate need of a couple vacation. Our ten year anniversary is this year and sadly, I don’t think hubby has anything planned.

    • Jennifer, this trip would have never come together if I didn’t plan every little detail. I don’t think Scott will ever be one to just plan a trip for us. *sigh*

  7. I’m so very glad you had a good time, Jill. I know some people disagree with adults-only vacations once you become parents. I disagree. I think they are an absolute necessity! I can’t wait to go on a trip with just my hubby. I think we’re doing something for our 5th anniversary next year.

    Unfortunately, neither of us drink wine. Hubby doesn’t like it and I am allergic so it makes me very sick when I drink it.

    It does look beautiful though.

  8. Looks like a fabulous trip. I’ve never been West and would really love to get out there and see the sights!

    People can bite it if they’re going to chastise you for being an adult and having some wine. Personally, I had some champagne/wine during both of my pregnancies. My kids seem to be functioning fine with their third arms! 😉

    Congrats again on your pregnancy!

  9. Awww, I just saw this. Healdsburg is my hometown – born and bred. My husband and I live in LA now, but still get up to Healdsburg to visit my folks whenever we can.
    Glad you liked it. = )

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