Day 1 in wine country started off with a boozy bang. We grabbed a burrito lunch in Berkeley (the better to prepare for the wine, my dear), then made our first stop at Acacia's winery. It turned out to be the perfect first stop-- B's parents had been there a few times before, so the people knew them and happily answered our questions for about an hour. No crowds, no fuss, just good wine!
The owners at Acacia suggested we stop by a friend's winery, Ceja, just a few miles down the road. This one was fantastic-- family owned, first-generation in the wine business, this fabulous family, the Cejas ("eyebrow" in Spanish, fyi) were a hoot. "No oak in our wine," said the son. "If you want oak, you can go outside and lick one of our tables." Their niche is making delicious wine that holds up to the bold flavor of Mexican food. We're in heaven! We sat round the big dining table of the converted B&B and drank tasting after tasting of wine in the loud, festive afternoon environment. As we left, we noticed a foursome sharing a bottle and a game of bocce in the backyard.
We checked into the hotel with the intention of getting cleaned up for dinner, but, crazy Embassy Suites, we got waylaid by the manager's reception. After an afternoon of tasting, veggies, snack mix, popcorn, and, who are we kidding, more booze, hit the spot.
B's parents had planned dinner at a place they'd never tried, Brix, and it turned out to be a hit. We arrived too late in the day to appreciate the vast gardens and rolling hills view, but we still appreciated the efforts thanks in part to the super-fresh food and fun atmosphere of the joint.
We went round for round with appetizers (flash-fried green beans with honey mustard dipping sauce, cauliflower soup with bacon) mains (fillet with cheese pollenta, swordfish over garden-fresh veggies, and lamb osso buco), and desserts (chocolate brownie, blackberry cobbler with lemon verbena sherbet). What a way to end the day!