Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wow!  Our first two days in California have been a blast!

Well, almost.  Our first day was nearly a disaster, thanks to a problem with our bank.

We landed in San Francisco, took a shuttle to the rental car location, and had our bank card declined for no apparent reason.  Turns out, there was “fraud activity in the area” where we were and they had put a temporary stop on all transactions being conducted there on their cards.

We were to meet our PR connections at MacMurray Ranch for lunch and a tour of the vineyards and we couldn’t figure out how to pay for our rental car to be able to get there.  After a number of increasingly unpleasant telephone conversations with our bank, we finally got something worked out and were nearly on time to our first appointment.

Lunch was family style and Kate MacMurray was the perfect host.  The property was magnificent and the highlight was when they drove us to a point high on a ridge, where we drank Pinot Noir overlooking the entire estate.

Our hotel has a nice pool that we enjoyed in the afternoon and we ate at a really cool place in downtown Healdsburg called Spoon Bar where the outside walls are actually accordion doors that they had opened all the way up, giving us the feeling of dining outdoors.  Healdsburg is a great little town with all kinds of great places to eat and drink, especially down around the square.

Today was super busy and fun.  We started off by taking a run down and through Healdsburg.  The early morning temperature in the mid fifties was a very welcome change!

We had lunch at Louis Martini Winery, then visited the CIA – that’s the Culinary Institute of America – in St. Helena.  That and driving past Alcatraz have been the highlights for Ceecee, so far.

After that, it was back to Healdsburg for a tasting at J. Vineyards and winery, and we actually reached the wine saturation point, so we went to a little Brat place called The Wurst and tried a local brew with our dinner.  It all ended with a drive to Sonoma for dessert at a place on their square that I really love called El Dorado Kitchen.  Whew!

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