* Two nights hotel or B&B accommodations
* Breakfast for two each day
* $200 gift certificate to any Michelin Star rated restaurant in the valley
* $250 gift certificate for a spa treatment for two
* Four private tours and tastings for two at Napa Valley wineries
* Two entry passes for the di Rosa Modern Art Museum and Preserve
First decision, who should join me? I chose my brother John. As adults we had never traveled alone together and when asked he shouted, "Brothers plus road trip equals bonding!" We could pick any time we'd like to visit during the month of April and we choose the week of the 22nd. Transportation was not included so I scoured the Internet and found a non-stop flight on Delta round trip from NYC for under $300. And John decided he would drive from MN where he lives so we'd have our own car.
|John and Arthur Wooten at Artesa|
|Arthur and Mosaic Waterfall|
Both of us traveling so far to Northern California we decided to extend our visit by two more days and the Napa River Inn generously offered us deep discounts for the additional nights.
They also gave us free wine tasting vouchers for an establishment called the Bounty Hunter Wine Bar located just down Main Street from the Inn. Obviously loved by locals, which is always a good sign, the rustic watering hole had an amazing wine list and offered up comfort food like St. Louis cut ribs and beer can chicken. This unexpected find was one of the highlights of our trip!
|Massage Room at Spa Villagio|
Day two was booked solid. First, massages at Spa Villagio in Yountville. An elegant and peaceful environment, the massages were first rate but a little bit too relaxing. Afterwards I stepped into the state of the art shower to rinse off and there were no less than ten shower heads and a plethora of handles. Once I figured out how to turn them on I then hopped from one spray to another as I wrestled with the temperature. And when I realized someone was waiting to use the shower, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out which handles turned what off. It was truly an "I Love Lucy" moment.
|St. Supery Wine and Food Pairing|
Rubbery, like over-cooked pasta, John and I found our way to St. Supery Vineyards. The grounds were beautiful but what was totally unexpected was the sign announcing our arrival. Actually, each winery we visited did the same. A wine and food tasting was set up for us in a private wine cellar and the very smart and humorous wine connoisseur, Joe Meck, taught us how certain foods affect the taste of wine. Truly educational and entertaining. Fave wines: 2012 Napa Valley Estate Chardonnay and 2009 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Then it was a mad dash to yet another wine tasting at HALL Rutherford. High on a hilltop, the main house overlooks the Napa Valley. But what's even more stunning than the views are the underground caves housing their wines and tasting room. The breathtakingly beautiful chandelier designed by Donald Lipski and Jonquil LeMaster is peppered with hundreds of Swarovski crystals. Fave wines: 2009 HALL Napa Valley Merlot and 2012 HALL Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc
|HALL Rutherford Wine Caves and Chandelier|
Day three we visited Silverado Vineyards. The private art collection is just as stunning as their list of wines and state of the art winery process. Add to the mix our hostess, Patricia Fletcher and her delicious sense of humor, and this was a perfect afternoon. Fave wines: Silverado Vineyards 2010 Carneros Chardonnay and Silverado Vineyard 2009 Soda Creek Ranch Zinfandel. I also have to add that they produce their own line of olive oil and chardonnay peanut brittle - both to die for.
|Old "Little" Faithful|
And next to the blowhole were Tennessee fainting goats. Yes! Just like the ones in George Clooney's film - The Men Who Stare At Goats. (I have no shame - this is what I was waiting for the whole trip!) I asked the elderly woman who owned the property if the goats were fainting today and she just shrugged her shoulders. I looked at John and then at her. "Well, what makes them faint?" She looked at me deadpan. "They have to be shocked." I paused. "Well, how do I shock them?" She barked back, "You don't!" Consequently, the goats didn't faint.
|Sculpture Meadow at di Rosa|
We're not sure we "got" every piece (some were pretty "out there") of art exhibited but the experience was exhilarating, the grounds were awesome and the male peacocks courting the one female were simply magnificent. In the foreground of this meadow photo, the little white objects planting in the ground are...hands. I kid you not. One of the few pieces Rene di Rosa designed himself, he called them "Field Hands". Obviously had a great sense of humor.
|Peacocks at di Rosa|
For our last dinner in the Napa Valley we chose Market in St. Helena. It was highly rated by reviewers on Tripadvisor and it turned out to be a fantastic choice.
Hotel Note: If visiting St. Helena you may enjoy staying at the beautiful Wine Country Inn. Market was elegantly casual, the food was great, ambiance perfect and the next time I go back to Napa, and I will, I'm going to stay in St. Helena. It's a charming village with quaint boutiques, eclectic galleries and many more restaurants I'd like to try out. It's also home to the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.
|Culinary Institute of America|
And you're all probably thinking, this was one lucky entry. Nope. I've recently won a writer's retreat to Vermont. Who wants to go with me?
Tips for winning sweepstakes:
* Target what you want to win. Ex: I love travel, food and wine.
* Don't enter contests you know you can't make. You don't want to win a European cruise that departs two days before your wedding in Chicago. (Or maybe you do.)
* I prefer to enter contests that are short term with only one entry allowed. It limits the amount of people who enter and increases your odds of winning.
Links to online sweepstakes: Online-Sweepstakes, Sweeps Advantage, About.com Contests & Sweepstakes, Giveaways and Sweepstakes
|That's My Big Brother|