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I’m back from a crazy week in Napa. Crazy because I had to fly 15 hours each to and from just for a one week trip, but who’s complaining?

I flew out on a Monday and landed in SF right on schedule. I was really anxious about landing on time and getting to my hotel on time so I could catch my late lunch reservation at RN74. As soon as I found my car service at the arrivals, they brought me to my hotel on Battery Street. I checked in, changed quickly and raced out to the restaurant, with no map. Good thing I wrote down directions prior to leaving or else I’d be lost, cause you know, I can’t read a map, even after 18+ years of travelling. 

I got there just in time and took my sweet time, eating my lunch and instagram-ming at the same time. 

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Ordered a glass of Chenin Blanc Taille Aux Loups Vouvray Bretonierre 2011 and had to space that out through my meal because I couldn’t have two glasses. I was technically still sick and on antibiotics and didn’t want to push my health at the start of my trip.

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Wish I had my friends with me but my sommelier friend was off that day and was at home, taking care of his kid. 

Ordered the Chilled Yellow Tail to start with because I wanted something light so I could order a main.

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Got excited for my main course which was the Mushroom Dusted Sea Scallops so I went through my starter fast so I could spend more time with my main.

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Gawd, it was good. Hit the spot. I love those huge scallops. Didn’t pair perfectly with my wine but still went okay. 

Normally, I would still order a dessert but didn’t want to overdo it so I paid and ran off to O’Farrell Street to do some panic shopping. Had to buy some denim at AG Goldschmeid and “look around” at Barney’s. 

I headed back to the hotel to change into something warm for the baseball game we were going to watch that night and headed to meet up with my companions on the trip. Not everyone was there but met most of them and was a little intimidated because I was the only one from my country and didn’t know anyone. The people were friendly though so we got on our bus towards AT&T Park.

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Not my first baseball game. I was definitely looking forward to drinking some beer and eating hotdogs and all that junk. 

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We got pretty good seats and sat with people from Constellation Brands (Hi Jake, Brendan and Laura, haha) as the other delegates got spread out among the seats in different sections.

Game was a full house and saw too much orange. Not my favorite color but okay, it was fun. I love baseball, if only for the camaraderie, when watching the game. It’s fun to play too though, played it in grade school and high school, even though no one will believe I’m actually athletic.

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Here’s baseball at night.

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Highlight of the game? 

Of course, the traditional hotdog, fries and junk. 

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Garlic fries was awesome but definitely needed a toothbrush after that.

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I had the hotdog first and ate that thing in seconds. Okay, so I took much longer than my companions but I didn’t want to spill crap on my clothes. I’m not 12 anymore.

Group nightcap was at this pirate/tiki bar called Smuggler’s Cove where I had the best CAIPIRINHAS EVER!!!! Too bad they didn’t have Brazilian music to dance to.

This guy was by himself and did everyone’s drinks.

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Followed up my caipirinha with a zombie, although I really wanted another caipirinha, but I think I got dared to try a zombie, and I got curious. Turned out to be a bunch of rum in a glass (hell yeah, rum) which I loved cause you know, I’m Filipino.

Did manage to get buzzed from it so I stopped at one and headed back with the others to collapse and get ready for the upcoming days.

Met everyone for breakfast and turned out we had some time to kill before going to Lodi so ended up walking around Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown for a bit. Thought about doing some shopping but decided against it, lest I get a long distance call from my parental unit, yelling in my ear about the credit card bill.

We all headed to Lodi and checked in at this sweet hotel and spa called Wine and Roses.

My bedroom was seriously too awesome and didn’t ever want to leave it. 

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It felt like a retreat, except I missed my friends (back home and my U.S. crew) and wished we were all having a sleepover in that hotel room and getting wasted on wine and Carribean Strong Rum.

I met up with the others for our first group dinner which was kind of a getting-to-know-you dinner. We had this awesome long table by the garden and a nice dinner under the stars. 

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Here’s our menu from that dinner.

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And our wines…

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Got a little worried when I saw barrel-aged chardonnay because I can’t stand oaked chardonnays (unless it’s a Burgundy) but this one wasn’t overpowering so I polished that off.

Our amuse-bouche was this crab cake like dish which I so wanted to eat but couldn’t cause I’m allergic and forgot my antihistamines in the hotel room. I took a bite to taste and prayed my throat wouldn’t constrict.

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Main course was beef, of course. I was in America after all. My first beef came well done so I had to ask them to change it my chosen temperature, medium rare. NOMS!

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Eventually we ran out of wines so they ordered some bottles and this one was quite good.

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I’m not sure if we have it here in Manila but hopefully, they bring it in.

Called it a night pretty early as Wednesday was our busiest day, packed schedule starting at 8am. 

The next day, we headed over to the Lodi Distribution Center of Constellation Brands for a quick stop. Place was HUGE with wine crates piled to the top. It was wild to see where all the wines being sent all over the world came from. 

My companions couldn’t get over the Opus Ones lying around. If they had a shopping cart, they would have placed it in their shopping carts. HAHA!

Here are the ladies hand-labeling Opus One.

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Robert Mondavi vertical…

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And other Robert Mondavi brands…

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We left for the Woodbridge Winery after and got a tour of the premises. Here are my tour mates and I being briefed.

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Presenting Woodbridge’s giant holding vats!

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Wonder what it would be like to dive into that thing. Honestly, that was the only thing I was thinking looking at it. HAHA

Here’s their massive grape sorting machines.

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Check out their bottling facility. Now I know how my house wines get bottled and why I will never run out of stock. 

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Various aging barrels bought in different years.

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We finished off the tour with a tasting with the head wine maker and lunch on premise.

Spot me in the reflection!

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Tasting with the winemakers!

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Couldn’t focus on lunch because we were heading over to Ravenswood after. Kind of geeking out on Zins lately because I can barely get any at this part of the world. Zinfandels still haven’t gained popularity in the Philippines so coming to Ravenswood was definitely exciting for me.

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We went through the vineyards for a bit, not too long, because it was roasting out there.

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We had our own private tasting which was a highlight for the trip for me….except you know, they made me “work” a little bit being the only sommelier in the group. HAHA. Got a little nervous having to do an actual tasting in front of people I only knew for a few days but it went okay. 

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I liked the Big River Sonoma 2009 and the Pickberry Bordeaux Blend 2009. 100% sure I can’t get it here. *sighs* unless…they bring it in…wheeee!

And finally, dinner!

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Dinner ended at a miraculous hour of 7:00pm and I was Exhausted by this time but we still headed out to the downtown Napa bar for some debauchery before finally conking out EARLY…at like 10pm

Glad for Thursday because I was intentionally missing out on the hot air balloon trip due to my acrophobia. Used Thursday morning to sleep in and meet up with my dear friends and CIA Classmates and their cute son, Karlten. 

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Met up with them at Oenotri where my friend Daniel is the beverage director and the wife Melinda is one of my best friends in school. We had a quiet lunch together and caught up. 

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Ordered a pasta dish because i was craving for it. Hadn’t had pasta in a week and I was dying.

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Melinda’s quail!

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Daniel gave us some fantastic Prosecco and the most amazing creme fraiche panna cotta in the world. I’m not a dessert person but I didn’t even bother sharing that dessert with Karlten! HAHHA! SORRY, KARLTEN! 

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Oh gawd, this was the best. I could still taste it.

Daniel also gave us some strawberry sherbet but I let Karlten have it since I ate all the creme fraiche panna cotta. 

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My friends had to go due to a playdate so I headed back to the hotel to check out what the group was doing. Melinda mentioned one of our classmates also worked at the hotel where I was staying in so I asked for her to come out and said hi to her (Hi, Michelle!). She works as the sous chef there.

Then I bumped into Jake and Patrick and they invited me for lunch (another?) to Yountville at a place called Redd. 

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Yountville was a really nice area. Definitely upper crust, moneyed area. You can tell from the surroundings and from how people were dressed. 

It was like being in Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills but in the country! HAH! 

Look at the cute puppy!!

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I really missed my dogs when I saw this dog. I wish I could take them with me to eat at places like these. I always have to leave them at home because the nice restaurants in the Philippines don’t allow pets. 

Anyway, I only got a sashimi type of dish because I was still stuffed from my other lunch. HAH!

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We shared a nice wine but I forgot to take a photo of it.

Headed back just in time to get ready for our Robert Mondavi Winery tour and our final group dinner together. 

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From the vineyards, we went inside the fermentation rooms. I was told they just held a party there. Would have liked to attend a giant party like that!

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Underground in the barrel and tasting room….

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AMAZING ROSE FOR COCKTAILS!

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I wanted a bottle for myself! HAH! 

Dinner set-up

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Amuse-bouche

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Main

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We were given one of each of this! YEY!
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At the end of this dinner, I was quite sad already because I felt I made a lot of new friends but had to leave them so soon! HAHA! I certainly didn’t want to go home, but alas, the real world awaits. 

We all headed back to the hotel for a short night cap before crashing. 

We all had flights to get to.

By the way, I missed mine cause I was an idiot. Ended up checking into an Inn near the airport because all the hotels were fully booked but finally made it on the same flight the next day…much to my father’s dismay. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to Future Trade International and Constellation Brands for sending me on this trip and being wonderful hosts!

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