Day 2 of my Bay Area Trip: Colleen and I woke up early for a hike through the South Bay hills and then instead of kicking back at the pool we booked it up to Napa Valley to catch the tail-end of the Menage a Trois Food Truck & Wine Festival.
I got interested in wine while at college in the Finger Lakes region of NY. The catering company I worked for in Ithaca served a red mix called Menage a Trois…which was always fun to serve to older men at Cornell faculty functions: “Sir, would you like to try the Menage a Trois?” Smirks, all around. Yeaaaaah awkward. Anyway, the wine was popular– not just for the name– it’s easy to drink but doesn’t have that bland juice taste like most red mixes.
Visiting the winery made my trip list because with a name like THAT you KNOW the winery has to be pretty laid-back. I’m not a wine snob by any means, I’m a twenty-something wine drinker..aka a step above Franzia.
It took a while to get up to Napa but Menage a Trois is one of the first wineries on the strip, on the left side (the side of the road heading out of Napa, which means by afternoon there were plenty of drunks hitting up their last stop in the Valley). Col and I got our tastings, I gave their Chardonnay a whirl, and headed out to the lawn which was full of people lounging around in the soft afternoon sunshine with picnics, listening to the live band. Some people were dancing, swerving around and laughing, obviously they had been enjoying Menage a Trois all day. The vineyards surrounded the lawn creating a private space to admire the landscape and appreciate the process of wine creation– vine to glass.
After a few more tastings– I got to enjoy Colleen’s since she graciously offered to be designated driver– things started to wind down at the winery. Napa closes early! Between 4-6pm. Since the easiest way to get back ‘home’ was to head towards the coast and towards San Francisco we decided we would include a stop in Petaluma to visit the Lagunitas Brewery. So off we went through the dry brush farmland towards the massive green hills that surround Napa Valley.
On Petaluma’s western side are the massive hills that block the Pacific Ocean from the Sonoma (and Napa) Valley and to the south is San Pablo Bay. This landscape creates a cool, foggy atmosphere in what looked to me as a very sleepy town. I’m guessing Petaluma has seen a surge of interest due to the growing craft brew industry — which was evident once we got to the totally packed brew pub. Not an empty seat in sight. Colleen and I stalked down a couple that looked ready to leave and ordered just before Lagunitas’ last call (also very early! 8pm, on a Saturday). I tried a flight of some of their strongest beer. Hey! I had already tried all the lightweight stuff that gets distributed out to the East Coast.
Things got a little fuzzy towards the end of our time at Lagunitas but Colleen decided she would take my giggling, tipsy self down into San Fran…since it was on the way home. The fog was rolling in and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees since we started the morning hiking in Cupertino. We headed straight into the fog. Arriving in San Francisco the first things I noticed was that it was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night and that it smelled of marijuana everywhere (we were only driving through the city and I could STILL smell it!). We parked in an industrial looking district in front of a warehouse with a bouncer out outfront.
The gigantic warehouse was actually a brewery, restaurant and bar– Southern Pacific Brewing. SORRY for anyone who was hoping for a story about raging warehouse rave.
I love a place that you don’t have to stand around for a seat and since Southern Pacific Brewing place was gigantic there was plenty of seating, even though it was also bumping with drinkers and diners. It’s the kind of place that serves mac n cheese with pork belly, steaming hot cups of chili, coconut fried chicken wings, chocolate bread pudding…yummy, delicious, gourmet bar food. We ordered our last round of beers (of many, for me) , settled on a pesto-tomato pizza and people watched. A perfect ending to an action packed day in Northern California.
What to wear when drinking from Napa to Petaluma to San Fran:
It gets cold once the sun drops and as you get closer to the coast so also bring:
Sweater- Urban Outfitters
Next up: I Could Totally Live in Santa Cruz