An evening in Asheville and delicious food at Salsa’s led us to the Biltmore the next morning, the largest house in America.
The family still owes it but does not live in the main house. It is an enormous property that now includes two hotels and a winery. The winery has a great setup and can accommodate a large number of people. Our pourer mentioned that it is the largest winery in the country which isn’t surprising when you figure that every ticket comes with a free tasting.
The house is enormous and was designed to be fireproof, therefore made out of stone and cement without wood elements. It has a beautiful garden conservatory and V for Vanderbilt throughout the house. They only had the child, a girl I believe, she was the one who opened it up to the public after her parents died.
I found it fascinating that there was not an outdoor pool and only an indoor one. There were a large number of changing rooms to accommodate changers. They didn’t have bikinis in those days.
The balconies of the house looked out forever. There is now a highway that runs elevated through part of the property. Stone was used to decorate the base as part of the agreement to let it go through in the first place.
While we were there, the rooms were decorated with costumes from Finding Neverland.
There are beautiful gardens and property that you can both walk and drive through.
While looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon we discovered Big Dog Vineyards. It’s in the hills above Milipitas with a view of the valley and some good wine.
Each Saturday from 12-5 they have wine tastings and live music. Wine tasting is $10 or $20 if you want to keep the glass. Daisy (the Big Dog) greets visitors and Socks (the cat) shows them to the patio. While they don’t bring tastings to your table like at some places, they do allow you to enjoy your tasting out on the deck and patio. You can then take turns with your guests as to who has to get up and get the next round.
Overall it provides an excellent place to relax on a Saturday afternoon in the shade (or sin) with some wine and music.
We had a chance to visit Napa Valley for a weekend. In preparation we asked a number of friends and coworkers for suggestions and had a large list. We only crossed two of the wineries off of the list but had a great time.
We started off driving up to Calistoga to tour the Castello di Amorosa. We had made a reservation to tour the castle followed by a wine tasting. The castle was built only using materials from Europe and provides a different type of experience in comparison to the other wineries in Napa. It was a fun one to start off with as it provided an attraction and a tasting. The tour included a visit to the dungeon and the wine storage areas.
We tried stopping off at Alpha Omega but unfortunately there was a long wait if you didn’t have a reservation.
**TIP** – Make two to three reservations for the day if you have a limited amount of time.
Next up was the Laird Family Estate. We were able to get in without a reservation and found a table on the patio in the shade. It was such a relaxing atmosphere and especially wonderful because they came to our table to fill our glasses for each tasting.
We stayed at a place in the Suisun Valley and were able to visit the Vezer Family Vineyard. They have two wineries. We went to the blue Victorian house and sat out on the patio. Again they came to us to fill the glasses which was wonderful.
Overall it was a wonderful experience in the Napa and Suisun Valleys. We came home with quite a few bottles of wine and now have a full wine rack!