Friday, August 12, 2011

Nashville in Napa

Well we are back from Napa and oh do I wish we were still there.  We had the most amazing trip!  I thought there was no way it could top our trip from last year, but it was pretty incredible.  We were going for the event Nashville in Napa, which SunTrust sponsors.  I guess you could call this a 'work trip' for B.  My kind of work!  The best part of this trip was that everything was taken care of and planned for us.  I can tell you the Type A in me did not mind this at all!  It was so nice to just show up at the airport and go along for the ride. :) 

We arrived on Thursday and first stop straight out of the Oakland Airport...

Yum.  I was so thrilled to order a cheeseburger no meat and not have complete blank stares. :)

After we stuffed ourselves silly, it was off to Napa Valley.  We checked into the quaint Rancho Caymus Inn in Rutherford.  It was perfect!
I loved the Southwestern feel to it.

And loved the goodie bag!  Complete with some wine, which I cannot wait to open come January, and a fabulous leather guitar strap that B adored.

The first night we headed to a VIP kickoff dinner at the Baldacci Vineyards.  It was an intimate evening, very relaxed and a great way to start off the trip.
It was just the songwriters, ASCAP sponsors and SunTrust sponsors, so we really enjoyed getting to chat with everyone.  Folks enjoyed tasting the best that Baldacci had to offer, and then we were in for a fantastic meal.
Cuban spiced flank steak, summer succotash salad, roasted fingerling potatoes and grilled bread.  It was amazing.

The next morning we were off to do a wine tour.
And they got things started with some bubbly!
I LOVED our group!  I was a little hesitant at first thinking the all day wine tour might not be the most fun this pregnant, sober gal would have, but it truly was.
First stop was breakfast at the Soda Canyon Store.  Yum!
We then arrived at Aonair and were greeted by winemaker, Grant.  He was so fun!  Young, confident and ready to have a good time. :) 

The tasting room is actually an old horse barn, so Grant left some of the original memorabilia.

B and fellow SunTrusters, Cathy and Dina.
Grant treated the group to a tasting of his finest vino complete with some delicious snacks prepared by Chef Stephen.

B loved the duck and chutney crostini!

Ol' preggers here at least got to hold the glass and 'smell the nose.'  Fortunately we purchased several bottles that are now waiting for me at home. :)

Aside from the wine, I think these patron peppers were the highlight of the tasting.  They were unbelievable.
Craig Wiseman was definitely a fan! 
(He wrote Tim McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying among 18 other number one hits.)

We bid farewell to Grant and Aonair, and the next stop on the tour was Ancien Wines.

We were treated to a toast by our guide Curtis...

And then headed into the vineyard to check out the grapes.
It was perfect timing because veraison had just begun and the grapes were turning colors.

After our time at Ancien, we were all definitely ready for some sustenance.  Fortunately for us our fearless bus driver, Woody, had picked up In and Out.
Yes, this would be the second day in a row eating greasy, delicious In and Out.  Hey, we're on vacation!

He even got this vegetarian a meatless burger.  I love California!

Next stop was our last winery for the day, Gargiulo Vineyards, which is located next to Screaming Eagle Winery and Vineyards that offers $725 bottles of vino.  Yes, we brought back several of those. ;)
Gargiulo was stunningly beautiful and we certainly enjoyed the nibbles and sips our guide Sue provided.

Plus this Music City crew was definitely impressed with the owner's vintage and handmade guitar gallery.

Best bus driver ever...Woody!

I loved the light installations at Gargiulo!

One last pic and we were on our way...

After departing from our lively crew, B and I headed to my fave, Oakville Grocery.

We visited the sister store in Healdsburg last summer, but I was excited to stock up on some yummy treats at the original.

After our indulgent day, it was off to the welcome dinner and guitar pull at Elizabeth Spencer Winery.

Fellow SunTrust Client Advisor, Earle, and his cute wife, Mary Katherine

I was a happy camper because this BBQ dinner also had a vegetarian option complete with grilled artichoke, roasted broccoli and the most amazing salad I have ever had.  I seriously need to move to California.

After dinner we were truly in for a treat!  A guitar pull is basically all the songwriters sitting around picking and playing.  Unbelievable talent with this group!

Radney Foster (one of my all-time faves!), Chris Stapleton and Jon Randall kicked things off.  Radney is best known for Texas in 1880, Lonesome and Keith Urban's Raining on Sunday.  Chris used to be with the SteelDrivers and is now rocking it out with the Jompson Brothers.  JR's best known for Whiskey Lullaby by Allison Krauss.
The guys were then joined by the incomparable Brett James, best known for Carrie Underwood's big hits Jesus Take the Wheel and Cowboy Casanova.  B was like a kid in a candy store taking in all the songwriting genius. :)

The next morning B and I headed to Bouchon for carb-induced breakfast.

I wanted one of everything!

Ended up going with the monkey bread, pain au chocolat, ganache filled donut and a pistachio macaroon.  Absolute heaven!  Don't worry, we did not eat all of this in one sitting. :)

We then set out for an afternoon date in St. Helena.  I love the small town, main street feel to the place. 
We enjoyed some shopping for Napa Valley trinkets

B was tired from all the shopping. :)
So time for lunch!  We stopped at this lovely sidewalk Italian cafe.

Amazingly fresh bruschetta.  B was in heaven!

Lasagna and gnocchi...nothing like a light lunch. ;)

After our lovely afternoon date, it was time for the main event!
All the songwriters and sponsors
Guests enjoyed wine tastings from seven different vineyards.  The wines were paired with hits from each of the seven songwriters.  Guests could then bid on the handwritten lyrics accompanied by a bottle of the wine.
After appetizers and wine, it was time for the first set of music in the cave.
Kicking things off were the two adorable and extremely talented couples, Jessi Alexander and Jon Randall along with Morgane Hayes and Chris Stapleton.
Jessi is best known for her hit The Climb by Miley Cyrus, but she shared one of her new, not yet released songs as well.  She and JR are expecting twin boys, but she wrote Road to You when she was pregnant with their two year old daughter, Shilah.  There was not a dry eye in the house!

After a phenomenal hour of music it was time for more wine and food!
The farm to table, family style meal was prepared by the Google chefs.
They started with an amuse-bouche lobster, foie-gras and caviar roll.
The main meal included pork tenderloin, salmon, fingerling potatoes, roasted heirloom tomatoes and summer succotash.  The chefs shared that all food prepared came from within 90 miles.
After dinner the guys were in for a treat as they met Jim Dunlop of Dunlop picks and strings.  You have not met a musician who does not use Dunlop picks!  Mr. Dunlop gave the guys some goodies and they were in heaven.

Chocolate and bacon cupcakes for dessert

The night ended with the ridiculous talent of these three men.  I was seriously in awe and humbled by how amazing they are.
The silent auction and raffle winners were announced, and lots of money was raised for such a great cause, NOTES for EDUCATION.

And as if the evening could not get any better, afterwards we went back to the songwriters' house and set around the fire listening to stories (and a few dirty jokes!).  It was approaching 1:00am, and I looked at B saying I was ready to go.  However I saw that look in his eyes and he replied, 'Not a chance!' ;)  I guess it isn't every day you have the chance to sit around with these guys.

The next morning we were on the road headed to the airport at 8am.  We were so sad to leave Napa and the company of such fun new friends, but we are already planning our Napa in Nashville reunion! :)


  1. Rach ~ This recap seriously gave me chills! I am so glad that this trip was just as amazing as the first one and how exciting and inspiring for B to be around all those songwriters.

    Can't wait to hear more about it over FaceTime. You look adorable btw!

  2. Thanks for all the wonderful thoughts - we LOVED have you and Brian and the rest of the SunTrust group at Nashville in Napa this year. See you in Nashville in October!! Debi Cali, co-Founder of NOTES for EDUCATION and NASHVILLE IN NAPA!