Room With A View: Napa Valley (And One Unexpected Event)

vineyard view room Napa

We’ve really been enjoying our stay in the Napa Valley! It’s been a wonderful birthday getaway. I’ll have more details soon, but wanted to share this fabulous wine country view with you.

Our drive up was relatively quick and uneventful, until just north of Concord on the 680 freeway. Suddenly, a loose wheel (complete with tire) came flying over the median and into our lane, landing immediately in front of us. We had no room to swerve to miss it. It bounced once before hitting the front of our car. I saw glass go flying and knew we’d lost a headlight, but was so relieved that it hadn’t hit the windshield or caused worse damage.

damage to car from flying wheel on freeway

You can see exactly where it hit our car. Fortunately we were able to keep going to our destination, but the next morning le Monsieur took our car to a nearby body shop, and was told it probably wasn’t safe to drive. So the insurance company is having the car towed back down to Southern California. In the meantime, the rental car company was out of everything except for this behemoth…

big arse truck

which, fortunately, we were able to exchange for a smaller car after a couple of days. Always an adventure.

dressing for early spring in Napa Valley

Weather’s been a real smorgasbord: sun, rain, hail…and sometimes all three within a 10 minute period. On the chilly side too. After checking the forecast one last time before we left, I subbed out a couple of warmer jackets and was glad I did.

We didn’t sign up for any pre-arranged winery tours this time, just took our chances and stopped into a few tasting rooms based on labels we were familiar with and recommendations from the hotel concierge. While we didn’t visit as many wineries as on past trips, we’ve tasted some fantastic wines and explored a couple of new-to-us labels. Yes, we’re bringing home a few bottles of our favorites.

barrel room wine tasting

This puffer jacket has earned its keep once again. (Plus and Petite Plus here.) Above, our wine tasting was held in the barrel room (about 55F), where the wine is aged.

Do you enjoy wine tasting excursions? Do you have a favorite region?

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  1. March 6, 2017 / 4:14 am

    You are lucky that didn’t turn into a terrible accident. I wonder what happened to the car it came from!
    Wine caves aren’t called that for nothing. The temp and humidity are like in a cave underground. In fact, there’s a cave–actually a series of caves, called Limousis–near us that stores wine. My favorite region is Minervois.

  2. C. Schmidt
    March 6, 2017 / 4:17 am

    Well, it looks to be a nice trip !
    We also enjoy wine tasteries and are lucky to live in Europa where are plenty !

  3. Jane
    March 6, 2017 / 4:17 am

    Wow, not a great way to start your trip! Looks like you had a wonderful time. Happy Birthday!

  4. Marie
    March 6, 2017 / 4:22 am

    Looks like a great way to spend some down time. That tire business could have had a much worse result. So glad you’re both safe! Have a nice local Cab for me s’il vous plait.

  5. March 6, 2017 / 5:16 am

    Glad you weren’t injured — what a scare! I noticed your jeans in one of the photos — they’re a great length for booties, and look nice and trim. I’ve had a struggle, lately, trying to find slim jeans that are both comfortable and slimming. Any suggestions?

  6. SoSuSam
    March 6, 2017 / 6:02 am

    Amazing how clearly the tire is imprinted on your car! So good to know neither of you was hurt when your car was hit. I hope the rest of the trip was considerably less exciting (and much more fun.)

  7. Debra
    March 6, 2017 / 6:05 am

    Happy that all is well after your scary accident!

    As I read the beginning of your post I smiled at your mention of “the 680 freeway.” That’s a big clue that you are from Southern California – we Northerners don’t put a ‘the’ in front of our freeways as you all do (I teach in the linguistics department and find little things like this interesting) 🙂

    I was hoping that you would bring warm clothes as it has been COLD here and the weather has been crazy! Yesterday my husband and I were driving down to San Jose from Marin and the temperature went up and down several times as we passed through some (cold) rain squalls. So bizarre but typical of late winter weather here.

    We enjoy tasting all over California – in fact we have trips to Napa and the Paso Robles area scheduled this spring. We’ll also be doing some tasting in the Loire Valley region at the end of the month; I am very excited about that as Sancerre blanc is my favorite white. We’ve booked a tour there and it should be fun (and probably cold, too – I’ll be bringing a warm jacket!).

    • Joanna
      March 6, 2017 / 8:00 am

      Since you teach linguistics I would like to pose a question. I’ve noticed of late, both on the news and in print, that many refer to their sons as ‘my boy’. I suppose it’s always been that way in the US and I am only picking up on it recently. Why not “my son”? No disrespect intended just curiosity.

      • Ainsivalavie
        March 6, 2017 / 10:42 am

        Interesting comment. I have also noticed this with people referring to their daughters as ‘my girl’. Of course many people here are francophone and the translation of ma fille is my girl. But we don’t refer to our son as mon garçon but as mon fils.(my son) A wife is ma femme (my woman) but I don’t think that is polite in English to refer to one’s female spouse in general conversation as My Woman!
        When I was learning french (from a wonderful nun who was born and raised in France) I was told that one did not use the le/la/les article when talking about or to someone that we were intimately related (someone you would ‘tutoyer’) to so my husband is mon mari not le mari, my son is mon fils not le fils, my dog is mon chien ou ma chienne etc. In Canada we say I drove on the 401 or I drove on Highway 401 I think it is affectation to say (if you are anglophone) I drove on The Hwy 401, but then the British say HRH THE Princess Anne, or Americans will say THE writer Sam Jones or THE actor Bob Smith.
        The world is getting smaller so all languages and their use will blend/evolve over time:)

        • March 6, 2017 / 11:49 am

          Oh, I love this sort of discussion. It is common in the South to refer to “my people” or “her mother’s people”. As in “her mother’s people were milliners in New Orleans.” Fascinating.

        • Anonymous
          March 6, 2017 / 11:15 pm

          So interesting to read the comments above.

          In both British and Australian English we would also refer to a particular highway with some form of descriptor in front as “the 401 Highway” or possibly, though not as commonly, as “Highway 401”. If you’re referring to a PARTICULAR thing/person with a descriptor (usually an adjective) there would always be “the” before the descriptor. It’s just normal grammar/usage in both British and Australian English.

          One of the things that puzzles me about American English is how so many verb forms are so different from British English, eg the past tense of the verb “shine” is “shone” – yet so often in American English I see “shined”. Also the past tense of “fit” is “fitted”, eg the coat fitted her perfectly. Same with “knit/knitted”. In American English the past tense form seems to have been lost. Also with “tread” – the past tense form is “trod”. Then there is the funny American past tense of “sneak” as “snuck”. This is one that’s been adopted in fairly common usage in Australia, to an extent, as a result of the movies/television – probably because it sounds quite comical to us – so it’s like a joke. Of course in British English the past tense is actually “sneaked”.

          So glad you and your husband escaped from the tyre incident without injury. Your husband or you, whoever was driving, did well to prevent a nasty accident. It looks as though it may have been a truck tyre that cam flying at you? Best wishes, Pamela

          • Anonymous
            March 6, 2017 / 11:16 pm

            Ooops! Typo! That should be “came” not “cam”. Not another puzzling verb. Pamela

    • CatherineC
      March 6, 2017 / 12:41 pm

      hmmn… Not relevant to Susan’s post but you have me thinking. 5th generation northern Californian here, also an MA in linguistics a long time ago before a detour. I think I would say simply “driving on 680”. But if I felt the need to specify that 680 was a freeway as she did, I think I would include the article, as I would if I said “the freeway”. I’m going to start listening to myself and others on this one.

    • March 6, 2017 / 12:46 pm

      Interesting about the names of freeways. What do you say if not ‘the 680?”

      • Patty
        March 6, 2017 / 2:50 pm

        I grew up in Pennsylvania and we would say – I took 680 to Napa. When I moved to San Diego, I quickly picked up adding “the” to my route numbers. There are some pretty funny SNL skits on driving around the LA area and all the different freeways (which are called highways back east).

    • Susan B
      March 7, 2017 / 6:22 am

      Hi Debra, interesting observation about “the” 680 and got me thinking. I grew up on the Penninsula, and moved to the Central Coast when I was 18, and then to LA 25 years ago. I realized that the freeways I’m most familiar with from my days growing up in the Bay Area I tend to refer to without “the” (280/101/92) and have picked up the LA parlance for the rest. Thanks for bringing up this topic…I love linguistics!!

  8. Lisa
    March 6, 2017 / 6:52 am

    Happy birthday, and thank goodness you both weren’t injured! We were in Napa last spring, and had a lovely visit, brought home some great wines. I live in Washington state, and we have our own wine region. We will be going to Walla Walla Washington this month to do some tasting with a group of friends.

  9. March 6, 2017 / 7:30 am

    That must have been a very frightening minute — so glad you weren’t hurt. As for wine tastings, close to home, here in BC, we like to go up to the Okanagan (which you might be surprised to learn is a desert, in Canada!). We had a great day out last fall in Bordeaux, joining a group of French friends making the rounds of the Fronsac appellation on a Portes Ouvertes weekend. But my favourite experience of wine-tasting was in Puglia a few years ago when we traveled with family, including my sommelier-trained daughter-in-law who works with a wine importer and arranged a visit for us to Tormaresca’s Bocca di Lupo estate. After the tour and wine tasting, we sat down to a marvellous lunch of Puglian specialties — that warm hospitality has us always scanning wine lists for one of those bottles,,,

  10. Sarah Harvey
    March 6, 2017 / 7:39 am

    Hi Susan! SO sorry about your accident with the tire! Glad you two are ok! Also glad you brought your puffer jacket–our weather this weekend was crazy–and very cold. I forgot to mention one of our favorite wineries: White Rock, in Napa. A little known label. Family owned and run winery whose owner is Belgian I believe. He makes wine in the French style so some of the best white and reds I’ve tasted in California–but then I’m not a fan of buttery chards. I think Henri’s sons run the winery now. Hope you had some great food while you were here too! XO Sally

  11. Coco
    March 6, 2017 / 7:46 am

    Oh!!!! Glad you are safe It’s always an adventure .. carry on and have loads of fun ! Coco

  12. Joanna
    March 6, 2017 / 8:02 am

    A very scary start to your mini vacation. You’re both ok and that’s what matters. I hope you are able yo put the accident out of mind and enjoy yourselves. Love your outfit, as always.

  13. citizen spot
    March 6, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Relieved to know you are both OK. Did you need a ladder to get into that truck? : )

    • Susan B
      March 6, 2017 / 8:22 am

      Just about! 😀

  14. Verónica
    March 6, 2017 / 10:52 am

    I am so glad you both were unharmed! Looks like a beautiful place to visit.

  15. plutrell
    March 6, 2017 / 11:33 am

    So sorry about your car…truly a bummer. But glad you are safe and hope the rest of your trip is uneventful…except for great entertainment of course.

  16. March 6, 2017 / 11:51 am

    Also, glad you’re OK! You must have fit in just fine in that wee bittie truck there in farm country.

  17. Mary Ann
    March 6, 2017 / 12:00 pm

    First of all, I have been thoroughly enjoying reading your blog for several months now. I love the way you display clothes, shoes, and accessories as well as passing on other great information. We have been to Paris twice so I can continue to live the dream vicariously through your pictures and writing of that gorgeous city. The main comment I wanted to make involved that accident you had near Concord. My husband and I live in Sacramento and have driven that section of 680 many, many times. We are always on high alert while driving through there. Going South one time we had a ladder come flying at us and hit our vehicle and going North we came upon a mattress that was on the road. There was no way to avoid it and it ended up caught underneath our car. We were not injured either time and I am so happy that neither you nor your husband incurred any kind of injury other than having to deal with a damaged car. Always be careful when driving through that area. It feels like it is cursed! Happy 60th birthday to you and keep writing your wonderful blog!!!!

  18. Maureen Parkhurst
    March 6, 2017 / 12:40 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this! The good news was, no one was hurt . . and it just became part of the adventure. I love the funny behemoth, that, luckily was replaced. You should have put a “Let’s make America Great Again” sticker on it . . 🙂

  19. March 6, 2017 / 12:49 pm

    Whoa, yuou dodged a bullet. So glad. You look great. I’m sure the valley appreciyed your style.

  20. Brit
    March 6, 2017 / 1:49 pm

    One of our favorite wine experiences was when we arranged a wine tour in Croatia a few years ago. We had a wonderful guide who took us to wineries as well as a really hip retail store, an oyster farm (!) and ended with a wonderful lunch at a famous restaurant in Mali Ston. Not to mention the beautiful scenery. It was easily one of my top five vacation experiences!

  21. March 6, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    Wow! Congratulations on your good fortune that your auto accident wasn’t much worse.

    Napa is fabulous — as are the other wine regions in NoCal.

    But closer to SoCal is the wonderful Santa Ynez region, which has much to offer. A wide range of varietals are grown there, although it’s best known for its very good sauvignon blancs.

    On this site are listed 88 different Santa Ynez wineries that offer tastings:

    And nearby Santa Barbara is one of the best getaway cities in the world with many offerings of lovely inns and restaurants.

    Happy birthday! I hope your sixties are the best decade yet. 🙂

  22. March 6, 2017 / 3:01 pm

    Glad you’re both safe. Great outfits for wine tasting. I’d be lost without my puffa coat too.

    March 6, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    Wow ….so glad you are safe and enjoying a Happy Birthday! You look smashing. I have a fashion question. I am plus sized…dunno if that matters with regards to my question but more info is better.
    Do you think the fabric used by Vikki Vi or the “travelers” fabric from Chico’s is just not chic? It is so practical and again being ‘ronde plus” It is difficult to find slacks my full hips and belly? What do you think…..your honest opinion sil vous plait. Thanks so much. M

    • Thea
      March 9, 2017 / 4:50 am

      I’d like to know the answer to this, as well…I have a few pair of “travel” pants, and definitely, the Chico’s brand are shinier, but, oh, so comfy! The EF and Misook are more matte.

  24. Rachael
    March 6, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    So glad you’re safe & sound after your mishap … & having fun in the Valley. Just curious, what rental agency provided the Ford F-150? I can’t imagine a visitor having to trek around in a big truck, unless that is a vehicle to which you’re accustomed. It has been a crazy weekend weather wise … sun, rain, hail in wave after wave & coooold! But, I’m happy you’re having a fun visit. Salut! I wish you safe travels home.

  25. karyn
    March 6, 2017 / 5:50 pm

    You may want to visit Chateau Sonoma on Arnold Drive and Napa Valley Vintage Home in St Helena for French decor. And, of course, Bouchon for a meal.

  26. Jennifer
    March 6, 2017 / 8:03 pm

    Terrifying! Glad you’re both OK. Our weather has been insane. There’s nothing better than being inside tasting good wine on days like that. My favorite place to go wine tasting is Napa!!!

  27. March 7, 2017 / 6:55 am

    I’ve only ever had to dodge large flying objects on California freeways. Once it was a loveseat, right in the middle lane of the southbound 405, but most recently, it was a sheet of plywood, completely airborne, flying about five feet above the ground on the westbound 10. Luckily, it landed nice and flat but for a few seconds there… whew!

    I’m glad your visit wasn’t wrecked for you.

    Due to your recommendation and that of the other women here in the comments, I sought out one of those packable down jackets (on sale right now at Land’s End) and it arrived yesterday. Instantly I could tell that it was going to be the jacket of choice for all future autumn/winter/early spring trips. Thank you for pointing it out to us!

  28. March 7, 2017 / 11:32 am

    Oh how lovely, hope you’re having a wonderful trip. I would love to go to Napa Valley – need to get myself over to the West Coast.

  29. rachelkhaki
    March 13, 2017 / 3:06 am

    Hi Susan, thanks for reposting re this jacket. I originally looked after your post in November, but only purple and teal available- neither of which work with my black/navy/grey/white wardrobe….thrilled that I managed to nab a slate blue – in tall as I’m long waisted. Arrived safely today in Australia, great fit but caused peals of laughter when I tried it on, as temps still in high 80s here.

    Enjoying your style journey, and your packing posts. Discovering some great new (to me) labels is an added bonus!

  30. March 13, 2017 / 1:25 pm

    Well… that was a scare!! You came away pretty well. And I think very highly of Le Monsieur for being able to drive that big thing. Glad you enjoyed your birthday get-away.
    And no, as you know, I don’t drink wine, so I never go to a wine tasting event. I might try champaign tours.. haha.

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