I feel as though I have been dropped into a movie. As I write this outdoors sitting in front of a blazing fire, I feel the gentle chill of a California Napa morning on my arms. The fog rolls in over vineyards that stretch forever in every direction from this idyllic porch where I write. Mt. Veeder to my left is topped with a shaggy foggy cloud that spans her crown. To my right stretches Calistoga and her vines heavy with grapes anticipating harvest.
Yesterday we began with an extraordinary breakfast at Mama's on Washington Square in San Francisco, as we stood in line for the famous breakfast, through the miracle of technology, we rooted Spence Smith on as he competed in and ultimately finished his first Ironman.
We then paused for a spectacular photo op at the fog enshrouded Golden Gate Bridge as a sailing regatta appeared framing a spectacular photo in front of Alcatraz.
The on to the verdant Napa Valley, our first stop a tasting at Cakebread Cellars. Lia was our guide for a marvelous sensory experience. The six of us were escorted to an exquisite wood paneled tasting room graced with views of vines heavy with grapes, when crushed and nurtured create the famous backyard Cab, and we savored the famous Chardonnay "whose tasting notes read like a novel" and ultimately fell in love with the Syrah. We carefully chose four bottles of the Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc to accompany our first dinner later that evening.
We then set out for what is to be our home for eight days, Tenstone Estate. Knowing when expectations are sky high, many times reality does not meet the vision, I tried to prepare myself for the staus quo. However, as we arrived and rushed into the great hall, we realized that nothing our minds could have imagined could have prepared us for this three acre slice of heaven set down in Calistoga. Feeling as though we have been transported to Tuscany, our first evening here was surreal. Almost as in a cloud of glorious wonder, we greeted our friends as they arrived from all over America. Laughter filled the air continuously as we hugged and welcomed "Italian" style.
Tenstone Estate is beyond words. But I will try as the week progresses to help you see a little of the magic here.
Award-winning Chef Michael Sichel is our chef this week and he promptly wowed us with a poolside banquet of split pea chowder and grilled tenderloin over green salad topped with his homemade dressing that we watched him create. This promises to be a tremendous culinary learning as well as tasting experience. The Cakebread Syrah was indeed the perfect complement to the tenderloin, just as our guide Lia told us it would be.
We fell into luxurious beds that Chris says "feel like marshmallows". Plush duvets, feather pillows, high ceilings and lavender soaps graced our paths as we drifted to a dreamy sleep.