The second part of our trip (see the previous post "Sedona, AZ") was the three days we spent in California. We rented a car at the airport and drove to Irina's home near San Jose. There we had a lovely dinner with Irina (IrinaPhotography Etsy shop), her husband and yet another Etsian - Olya.
As the day before in Arizona, the evening was not long because we were tired and because of our plans for the next day, but we managed to have a great time between some wine and food. Irina is a joy to be around and it was wonderful to finally meet her after all the time we spent talking on Skype. And I think her personality was matched closely by the red bud vase I made for her.
The next morning Irina, my husband and I drove to Napa. Napa Valley is a totally picturesque place and, as I am sure you are aware of, is famous for its vineyards. The hills, punctuated by the neat rows of wines are a story in itself.
Yana (WineCountryLife Etsy shop) and her husband Jason are serious wine lovers, so they have prepared a very well thought out itinerary. Not only their pick of the wineries was based on our taste in wine, but the wineries themselves were quite remarkable.
I will not go on to pretend that I am a serious wine connoisseur. I enjoy my wine, but rarely drink more than one glass, and most certainly would never be able to tell the difference between a $20 bottle and a $60 bottle. Mostly, a $7 glass of well-balanced domestic red will make me happy just as much as an expensive one. So, for me, this whole trip was more about the atmosphere, hanging out with friends and sightseeing. And let me tell you - Yana and Jason have delivered a great experience.
The first winery we visited was a bit like an art gallery. It held a number of glass and metal sculptures by a local artist both inside and out on the grounds. We enjoyed the selection of wines Jason picked, including a white that I still regret I did not buy a bottle of. We also walked outside and took pictures of the surrounding hills and the fountains. The blue skies and the water have reminded me of the blue bud vase I made for Yana.
The second winery was like a museum. Built from imported stone, the building had a portico supported by 10 stone pillars and the walkway to the building was framed by 12 more pillars, flower beds and water features. Atop each of the pillars sat a traditional Egyptian bull sculpture. The inside was just as impressive, starting from the fireplace flanked by life-sized metal sculptures of Egyptian warriors to the most amazing modern water sculpture. The wine made it all even more enjoyable.
That evening we said goodbye to Yana and Irina and spent the next two days on our own. We visited the Winchester House - a 160-room mansion built by an extremely rich and, well, crazy heiress of the Winchester gun empire, had dinner at a great seafood restaurant by the Bay Bridge, went for a walk among the giant redwood trees near Sausalito, had sushi with an old friend and flew home. All in all, I'd say this was a very enjoyable trip.