Under a Napa Breeze

It only takes a fews months of real life grind to get me lusting for a mini escape and an opportunity to gorge my eyes on natural beauty while letting my skin indulge in the sun. Usually for me that involves a plane ticket and buyer’s remorse, but now that I live in California, raw scenery is just an hour away in every direction.

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After I took the leap of faith and cancelled my flight back to New York, on the same day that I moved into my new home in Oakland, I trekked to Haight- Ashbury in San Francisco to learn how to clean people’s underwear.

The Wash Club was a surprisingly busy place given it’s very residential location and the fact that most of it’s business didn’t come from the residents near by, but from the businesses nearby, such as Ghirardelli in AT&T Park to the USCF Medical Hospital. The staff was super friendly and we and I a quickly became chummy “co-worker” acquaintances with Brandi, “the problem child of Wash Club” as she introduced herself.

It’s funny how much your life can turn around in just one week. I went from making a life- changing decision to turn a road trip into a permanent home on Sunday, to working in a laundry mat, to wait for it… getting  an offer for a good old reliable 9-5  marketing job (after an ironic THREE MONTHS of searching in New York) by the next Monday. Hello, San Fransisco, the “real” land of opportunity!

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That week was a true week of GRINDING. Working , interviewing, and exploring. I went to Off the Grid in Fort Mason for an amazing view of the chilly bay, live music, and good truck food. I ate cream filled, sweet with a hint of savory, pastries in Chinatown…  a place that puts New York’s Chinatown to shame. Seemingly authentic, a little gimmicky, but enthralling none the less.

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After a bittersweet goodbye to the Wash Club folks, who were truly understanding when I resigned after just a week and half of working there, I started my new job with rejuvenated energy that had been beaten out of me from years of stress.  I never thought I’d look forward to working again, but the year of unemployment, soul-searching trips, and my beloved Italy, brought me back to the viridity of life that is often overcast by routine and obligation.

But I promised myself this time around, I’d make time for my not-even-a -little-bit guilty pleasure, traveling. Cue the in the “Sweet Home Alabama” road trippin music.

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I didn’t have high expectations for Napa considering my love of Marche vineyards and Tuscan hills, but the ambiance was beyond gratifying.

Napa’s fields glimmered with gold on that breezy fall day as the tinted leaves rustled  in response. The cloudless sky let the sun shine boldly to provide a false sense of warmth, but added to the briskness of the goosebump endorsing wind. The golden hilltops lead to stunning views of more hilltops, cascading into one another as a cohesive unit.

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My twin sitter / second half  was in town, so we decided to celebrate her visit with a wine-tasting tour at Artesa Winery.  “Artesa” is Catalan “handcrafted” and the of artistry and design is apparent in every corner of this beautiful winery.

Our tour guide, who later revealed  was the in house artist’s daughter, recounted the winery’s Spanish roots. Owned by the historic Codorníu Raventós family of the Penedès region near Barcelona, Artesa is part of a winemaking legacy that dates back to 1551 and specialized in sparkling wine. The wine spoke for itself, but what intrigued me most was the family’s forward thinking approach to art back in the prime of their day. In the 1800s, they commissioned scandalous advertising of tipsy women with rosy cheeks, holding a class of bubbly, and a suggestive look in their eyes. However, today, the winery’s artistic tastes have evolved to be more abstract with eclectic sculptures and watercolors.

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After the tour, we had a lovely tasting with an older Italian-American couple and their son who, coincidentally, were also from NY. As the wine flowed and loosened our inhibitions, we chatted and cooed in support as the couple gushed over each other despite 40 years of marriage.  And we all rode the buzz of a day of sipping Napa wine with loved ones.

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