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Sunny Travels: San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma County

by kelly / March, 11 2014 01:30

Arbios Cellars/Praxis Cellars vineyard grapevines

Welcome to the first in our Sunny Travels series where we take you on our around the world adventures. At Block Island Organics we like to travel around to find fun destinations with some sun and share these experiences with you.  Hopefully our trips will inspire you to share your own - we are always looking for new places to visit.  Of course we never forget to apply on sunscreen wherever we go! This past week the Block Island Organics team went to San Francisco, Napa Valley and Sonoma County.

We Start in San Francisco

The first leg of our trip started off in San Fran for a few days.  While there we made sure to hit these hot spots - Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown and Alcatraz.  A tip about Alcatraz - it's a hot tourist attraction so tickets book up quickly.  If you want to go I would book tickets in advance but definitely worth it.  I was actually unable to make it due to some other commitments, but Will tells me he loved it.  He really likes history, so I'm sure that added to it, but he said the audio tour was great and seeing how the prisoners lived gave him a new appreciation for not wanting to be there!

Fisherman's Wharf Proves a Favorite

Our favorite part about Fisherman's Wharf was this gem of a place we found called Musee Mecanique which features mechanically operated antique arcade machines and musical instruments.  We definitely had a good time toying around with these old gems.  Will took on his dad and sister in bubble hockey winning 5 - 2 while his sister bested him in a Duck Hunt like game that shot metal marbles at mechanical animals all enclosed in a long wood and glass cabinet.  We also played an old arm wrestling game (Will says he won, I don't think so...), a baseball game where a metal ball was pitched to your bat and a number of other oldie but goodies.  In Chinatown it was all about the eats.  We sampled some yummy Chinese pastries, cracked some salt and pepper crab and chowed down on Peking duck.

Sausalito Beckons

To get to the other places on our itinerary outside of San Francisco we rented a car. It's really easy to do and something we recommend when heading to Napa and Sonoma.  On our way to Napa Valley we drove on the Golden Gate Bridge through Sausalito.  Sausalito is right across from San Francisco and offers scenic waterfront and panoramic views of the city.  It's definitely a great place to sit outside with some food and drink, enjoy the views and take some photos.  We actually did just that with some pizza and ice cream, ice cream first of course!

Napa and Sonoma Here We Come!

The last leg of our trip took us to Napa Valley and Sonoma County.  These two areas are known for their wineries and sunny weather.  Some of the best wines in the world come from them.  The popular thing to do when you are in Napa and Sonoma are wine tastings.  We did that, although just a little as none of us are connoisseurs.  What it basically entails is driving from one winery to another and sampling a set of their wines for a fee.   Something to note - we also had one designated driver, me (I don't drink), during our tour!  Most of the wineries in Napa Valley are located next to each other off two main roads.   There are a lot of them and some say they require appointments in advance although we didn't check any of those so we're not real sure.  One thing we saw some other smart people do was picnic at some of the wineries.  Many of the wineries offer beautiful views and places to sit outside with your own basket of food. Come prepared to take some picturesque photos.

Like Wine? Don't Miss Arbios & Praxis Cellars

Our favorite winery of the whole trip was in Sonoma County.  It's a must visit and called Arbios Cellars & Praxis Cellars. Arbios Cellars & Praxis Cellars is a small Sonoma County family wine business run by a husband and wife.  Full disclosure, Will is actually related to the Arbios team!  Second or third cousin's twice removed or something like that.  That's the real reason we did the trip in the first place.  How often do you get to go to a winery where you know the owners?  Definitely a first for us.  Also, sometimes the wineries in Napa Valley can feel a little overdone and overly commercialized so it was nice to visit a winery that felt truly authentic.  Susan and Bill have a real passion and love for wine making (Bill's been making wine for over 40 years and actually went to UC Davis way back in the day to study it) and it shows in their wine.  Even though I don't drink I actually tasted some at dinner one night.  Pretty darn good says my expert palette, ha!  We got a special treat getting an actual tour of their vineyard in the hills where we saw the vines and learned all about the farming process.  It was definitely cool to walk amongst the vines.

Overall the trip was super relaxing and filled with great food, drink and sun.  Definitely recommended. Any trips coming your way?

Check out more of our Sunny Travels posts here.

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