It’s been over 20 years since my first and only visit to Wine Country so it’s only fitting that my wife, Kathy, and I, along with our good friends, Gerry and JoAnn B. and Joe and Carol B. will make the journey this fall. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the trip with great anticipation. The past few months have already seen a great deal of planning and, from my point of view, that planning and research plays a large role in making a vacation fun.

I thought it might be interesting and informative to readers to share the things I learned in outlining this adventure, and to periodically post here some details on how the trip is shaping up. Consequently, this will be the first of several updates on what, I hope, will be a very enjoyable visit to Napa and Sonoma.

There are a great many decisions yet to be made but we do know that we will be spending the week at the Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma, a Marriott Property. We do intend to spend the first night in San Francisco and are looking into  a nice downtown location. One of the things we are looking forward to during this trip (especially because this is a blog on WINE & FOOD) are the many really good restaurants in the area. At this stage in the planning, we have zeroed in on Gary Danko, for that first night. There is no end to the websites offering advice on wineries and restaurants in that area. My primary sources thus far in the search have been, Trip Advisor, Chowhound, Fodors, and three very informative Wine Boards, the eRobertParker.com, Wine Spectator and Wine Berserkers. There is such an abundance of trip reports and lists of peoples favorites that it almost becomes information overload.

In the weeks and months ahead I will keep you informed of our plans and hopefully, by September we will have created an itinerary that will make this a great trip for all of us. As with all great trips, the real enjoyment is in the planning and anticipation. That is how you take full advantage of any vacation. Once they actually begin, they are almost over! Stay tuned.

7 Responses to “PILGRAMIGE TO MECCA – NAPA/SONOMA TRIP-OCTOBER 2nd – 9th 2010”

  1. Any chance you’ll visit French Laundry?

  2. ballymote Says:


    That’s an interesting question and something that is already a subject of debate among the six of us. As you are aware, it is difficult to get a reservation but it is also VERY expensive. Part of me would like to do it, anyway. Another little voice says, “Go to Thomas Keller’s “other” restaurant, Ad Hoc and save your “one big splurge” night for Cyrus”, in Healdsburg. The jury is still deliberating and we have until August to make that call to The French Laundry.

  3. Another option (a feasible one for me anyway) is to go to Per Se in NYC

    • ballymote Says:


      Going to Per Se might be an option when planning a trip to New York but
      this post is about Napa/Sonoma.


  4. Right Frank! : ) I guess I was dreamily musing “out loud” about any opportunity I might have to eat at a Thomas Keller establishment….

  5. Maggie Says:

    Hi Frank,

    I’ve actually eaten at The French Laundry, and while it *was* extraordinarily expensive, I thought it was worth it. If you decide to go I’d be happy to share the “secret” of how I wrangled the reservation!

    Maggie J.

  6. ballymote Says:

    Hi Maggie

    What did you think of The Lion King?

    I may take you up on your “secret” to the French Laundry reservation. It may be that my biggest fear is that I DO get a reservation. Seriously, we are debating whether we want to spend the small fortune required to dine there. Cyrus in Sonoma might be almost as nice at one third the price. We shall see. Thanks for posting a comment. Hope all is going well with you.


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