The Great Escape

Hey Barbarella, I've recently returned Sonoma and Napa Valley and had the most fun I've had in a long time! Prior to our wine valley trek, my guy, Bob, and I were Napa-virgins, but ready for fun. Upon arriving, we hit a couple wineries before checking in to the Wine Country Lodge. The lodge was a flash from the 60's, complete with a (non-velvet) picture of Elvis hanging over the bed. Their claim to fame is that Elvis and Marilyn Monroe stayed at the lodge. Elvis was popular in our group and we snapped pictures throughout our stay, gathering around him on the bed, just so we could say we stayed with The King. Besides Elvis, our main goal was the lobster feast at Pine Ridge Winery. When first arriving at Pine Ridge, we were given an apron and told to write our names in order to become better acquainted with others; I became, "Gretchen Go-Girl Napa Virgin." Besides tasting their scrumptious "not sold in stores" varietals, we were offered lots of yummy appetizers, while wandering the vineyards. When the bell was rung it was time to settle in for some feasting; our table of 25 or so was tucked amongst the vineyards, grapes still on the vine. After the welcoming remarks, we were instructed to grab our wine glasses, stand up, and push our chairs back. The "chef" walked along the table carrying a huge steaming pot, complete with lobster, shrimp, corn on the cob, artichokes, and potatoes (I'm sure there were other veggies, but by now my memory is a little fuzzy). He started at one end of the table and didn't stop until he was at the opposite end, carefully dumping our goodies in the middle of the table. Huge loafs of sourdough bread were given out, and condiments of mayo and butter. With only fingers allowed, no one was shy and everyone was hungry to dive into the table of treats. The feast was tasty beyond description and we all ate until we couldn't eat anymore. We all helped with clean up by tucking in the butcher paper and plastic table cloth towards the center of the table, just in time for the waiter to roll the empty shells, husks, used napkins and whatnot up in the plastic. By the time he reached the other end of the table, the "taper" guy came along with the tape gun, securing the giant roll of our dinner remains and whisking it away for the trash. We were left was clean and beautiful table linens and hot, wet wash clothes were handed out all around. I wish every first timer could have this same fabulous experience as we did in Napa Valley, but only members and guests of members are allowed. Bob and I joined the wine club, now we'll be able to attend and invite who we want, so if you and David want to go next summer, drop me an email! It's on the books as an annual event and one not to be missed! Ciao, Gretchen PS ~ if you go to the wine country, try the Bay Leaf restaurant, but be ready for an all night dining experience, complete with the Imperial Drop! But then, that's another story!
— October 29, 2008 4:06 p.m.

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