Adventures in San Francisco with Alex and Joey

San Francisco, well California in general, is one of those places that you just want to show off. When I lived in Columbia the extent I would show off my town was really limited to the University of Missouri campus, Shakespeare’s Pizza, the Artisan (RIP) and Top Ten Wines. If they were especially adventurous we might hit up the Pinnacles north of town or Rock Bridge Memorial State Park south of town. We could get everything done in a day, easily. 

Alex and Joey at the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco and Northern California are so different. I’ve lived here for a total of four years and I feel like I’ve only skimmed the surface. I am regularly thanking my friends Jimmy and Aaron for helping me discover new and often inspiring features of this part of the country. Whether it’s a mountain to be climbed or a fantastic restaurant at which to be dined.

So when friends visit me here in California, the list of things to do is almost certainly longer than the days they will be here. Such was the case with Alex and Joey. I picked them up from the airport a Wednesday afternoon and drove them straight to wine country for tastings at J Vineyards, Seghesio Family Vineyards and Preston of Dry CreekContinue reading

Visiting the TWiT Studios

Today is probably the last day you will find people wandering around San Francisco in their black, mock-collar, WWDC jackets before their head off to their places of origin to share their knowledge. Well, share what wasn’t suffocated by one of Apple’s infamous non-disclosure agreements.

WWDC 2011This is the first year that I have lived in San Francisco for WWDC, Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. It didn’t make a huge difference in my life as I was not in attendance at WWDC. At $1,500 for a ticket, I decided I’d be better off catching up via TUAW and MacRumors. I did benefit from some of the awesome people that came into my city for the week-long conference.

The first night of WWDC I had dinner with a fellow Mizzou alumni Geoff Pado and Tyten Teegarden as well as Twitter friend Luke Irvin. After a few drinks, Luke and I decided we should rent a car and drive up to Petaluma California for a visit to the TWiT Studios. There maybe, just maybe, we could meet one of our favorite nerds, Leo Laporte.

And that’s what we did. Thursday morning I picked up Luke and we made our voyage north. After we reached the TWiT studios, we nervously gathered our things and headed up the steps.

We were immediately greeted with the friendly smile of a TWiT staffer. She provided a quick tour of the operations and then lead us on set where we watched the making of Windows Weekly. If you look carefully during that episode, you’ll see the right side of my body enter the frame a few times. Oops!

One of the guests on the show was Aaron Hillegrass from Big Nerd Ranch. He was super interesting and fun to listen to, equally as congenial.

When the show was over, Leo talked a little tech, signed some autographs and posed for some photos. You always hope that the people you look up to are as cool in real life as you think they are from your side of the screen. In this case, Leo was even cooler. Just so down to Earth and genuinely interested.

Luke Irvin, Me and Leo Laporte

He asked us what we did, if we were from the area, did we go to WWDC, etc etc. Some how we got onto the topic that I am a blogger, I had brought up earlier that I once wrote about him winning an Emmy… Anyways, he pulled up my blog on the live stream and began reading my blog post about the mysterious iPhone I saw last week.

Leo Laporte checking out my blog

That was super cool, I must say. He even left my blog up on the live stream while everyone else went out for lunch. Though it didn’t have much affect on my blog traffic. :-\

Afterwards we checked out the new TWiT studios which look pretty awesome.

New TWiT Studios Panorama

We rounded out the trip with a jaunt a little further north to Healdsburg where Luke and I did a wine tasting at Seghesio Family Vineyards. Quick introductions to all of my friends there, tasted around eight wines from Arneis to Zinfandel to Omaggio.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to hit up any other wineries or check out the amazing food in Healdsburg. Perhaps next time.

Impromptu Visit to the Wine Valley

A jaunt over to Ikea to buy a dresser becomes a trip to Sonoma Valley for @Marris_Returns and I. We met up at Ikea where said dresser was purchased. Meanwhile Marris gets a phone call about a cousin about a trip to Napa.

One thing lead to another and the trip to Napa was cancelled almost as soon as it started. But, instead of getting all down about the whole deal, we decide to surprise @KaylaGettys with a trip to her winery in Healdsburg, Seghesio Family Vineyards.

Well, that trip to Seghesio became a trip to Seghesio, Mauritson Vineyards, Amista Vineyards and finally Sbragia Family Vineyards where we met the owner’s daughter, Gina. We hoped to squeeze in one more winery, Preston Vineyards, but we were a bit too chatty with each of these great, small production wineries.

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Cruising the Wine Valley

My best girl, Kayla, planned a sensational day in the wine valley for the two of us when I was in California back in September. We hit up six (?) wineries for tastings and were driven from one vineyard to the next in a limousine. How fancy huh? Thanks to Kayla for setting that up, it was an amazing trip through the valley. Every time she sets one of these things up she totally eclipses her previous efforts.

These are the wineries we went to and that I still remember. We had quite a wine between the two of us so my memory of the trip is a bit fuzzy… 😛

I went on this day trip intending to purchase a bottle or two, at most. I ended up buying nearly a case and a half. Add this to the wine I bought at the wine tasting in San Francisco… It wasn’t long before I was swimming in wine!

Our first winery was Seghesio, where Kayla works. I love visiting this place. If you have never been, you must put it at the top of your To Do list. The vineyard has been family owned since 1895 and it shows. Their wines are carefully crafted into some of the best Zins in the state. Their food and wine pairing are legendary and the parties they host are the envy of just about every winery. At least, that’s what I was told from just about every other winery we visited that found out Kayla worked at Seghesio.

Our next stop was Moshin Vineyards where a charming Scotswoman gave us a taste of some of their wines. There we enjoyed some Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and some fun Zins.

Amista and Preston Vineyards were both awesome. Amista’s wines tasted perfect. It felt like they had an equation for each of their wines, mechanically perfect. It was there that I had the first Chardonnay that I really loved. Of all the wines I’ve had, I’ve never had a Chardonnay good enough that I felt compelled to buy it. Of course I also haven’t had that many Chardonnays

Preston’s wines are organic, clean, crisp and pleasing. The winery is also an organic farm with fresh produce, organically raised hens and sheep. Their extra virgin olive oil is awesome and I’ve hear they have equally as tasty cheeses? Next time!

Kayla’s boyfriend Matt gave us a tour through some of their wines prior to our wandering of the grounds. I don’t think I got out of there with less than five bottles of their wine haha. Almost all were whites, seems I was in a mood for white wine that day.

Next up was a surprise. Jordan Vineyards, easily the most beautiful winery we visited this trip. There Kayla and I joined a few others in a wine and food pairing. Once again, great wine and a wonderful guide through the tasting and history of the winery.

The tasting ended with a taste of a dessert wine that was pretty damn awesome. It was a bit out of my price range but seemed like a bargain at around $50.

Every winery Kayla chose was awesome. Not a single hiccup or disappointing wine. The entire trip through the valley was just about perfect.

Well, that is until we took on the task of kicking out the squatter living in my house out in Forestville. That is an entirely different blog post though.

We capped off the night with a fabulous dinner at Barndiva with Kayla and Matt and a killer (in more ways than one) cocktail at Willies Seafood and Raw Bar.

The drive back to San Francisco gave me time to contemplate the day’s events. I thought about my friendship with Kayla. I thought of the early morning drives into Santa Rosa to open Starbucks or go to class. I thought about the house Seth and I lived in with the creaky wood floors and obnoxiously fertile fig tree in the back yard. I remembered the parties, the coffee shops, the podcast with Callie and how much I missed all of that.

It became clear to me on that long drive south into San Francisco that a change soon needed to be made.