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July 15, 2014

Reunions in Napa Valley

We've just returned from another fabulous weekend in the Napa Valley.  The occasion was a 70th birthday party for a dear old friend.
I say "old" based on the length of our friendship, not his age...although I admit my perception of middle age resides on a sliding scale now.

traveling in Napa Valley

Our reunion began at Tra Vigne in St Helena. It's vine covered, rustic stone exterior set the mood for our fabulous meal. I adore everything about Italian food and coming here felt like a trip to Tuscany. Nestled in the heart of historic St. Helena, Tra Vigne, serves outstanding Northern Italian cucina crafted from fresh local ingredients.

stone lions at Tra Vigne

The entrance is flanked by two beautiful carved stone lions.

fine dining in St Helena, CA

I haven't seen my friend Silvia in almost twenty years and she'd probably shoot me for this picture, but it's the only semi usable one of us in front of the Lions.

great restaurant in Napa Valley

Pardon my "stork" pose. I refused to wear my walking cast for this trip so I'm hiding my surgical-tape wrapped toes:).

St Helena Eatery

We had a large corner booth just inside the bar area, which felt cozy and private enough for us to boisterously relive old times and catch up on what's new. In truth, we were a loud crowd and the restaurant atmosphere was perfect for us. Our waiter was gracious, attentive and very helpful with menus selections.

friends gathering in Napa Valley

We've  been "couple"  friends since our children were in elementary school together. PTA, carpools, Little League and Cub Scouts were just part of our shared experiences. We rotated homes for  frequent dinner parties where laughter reverberated into the night and great wine flowed.

As happens in life...jobs change and people were transferred all over the world. We've done our best to stay in touch but haven't had a chance to all sit down together... for over 15 years.

This visit... we (women) all passed our cell phones around to ooh and aah over each other's fabulous grandchildren!! Several born in the same month and year, two named James.
My James was the most adorable...but you knew that :)

The Tuscan courtyard, under a canopy of twinkling light covered trees, was bustling with activity. It was a balmy night... so I stepped out to just snap a picture of this pretty area. Next time we'll request a table out on the patio. It was beautiful!

best places to eat in Napa Valley

Per our normal, the women commandeered one end of the table and the men sat at the other. In honesty, we started out with a more traditional seating arrangement, but it quickly because obvious the men seated between the women were not happy campers.

I ordered the Halibut which was cooked to perfection. I also did succumbed to the fresh baked bread and olive oil...because I'm only human and this was an Italian restaurant!  My Caesar Salad came with a large side dish of shaved Parmesan Cheese, perfection!
My wheat and dairy restrictions were tossed by the wayside for this entire weekend. It would have been cruel not to.

My friend Adrienne of "The Rich life on a Budget" told me Tra Vigne was one of her favorite restaurants, and now it's one of mine.

Be sure to make a stop at Tra Vigne on your next trip to Napa Valley.

It also happens to be right next to my favorite spot in St Helena... Merryvale Vineyards, where we spent a large portion of the following day, tasting, buying and restocking up on truly outstanding wines

Do you have a favorite restaurant in the Napa Wine country? 


  1. All of the NAPA bloggers have me ready to get on a plane! I love all of your posts!

    1. Thanks Pam. It is a great place, I cannot tell a lie. I love it there.

  2. oh i love tra vigne too. our oldest went to college in the napa valley and so we went there often. one of my most memorable meals ever eaten was right there. love that you met up with a dear friend there. food and good friends...can't get any better than that. x

    1. What a great place for your child to go to college! Good food and good friends are the best, couldn't agree more.

  3. Oh how wonderful! I have got to get to California.....

    1. Just say the word...I'll pick you up at the airport Wendy:)

  4. It sounds like the perfect weekend! I So wish I lived in California and could hop up to Napa for a weekend! Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  5. You look great as usual, Jennifer. Hope your foot continues to heal.
    Love this beautiful place, especially the patio scene.

  6. A beautiful setting for a reunion and 70th birthday party. I have to say that it's fabulous here on the other side of 70. Health is wealth!

  7. That sounds like a wonderful weekend and fun dinner with long time friends. I've never spent any time in the Napa Valley to speak of but all my friends that do a long weekend there just rave.

  8. Jennifer,
    What a beautiful setting for a friendship reunion!
    I love that the girls and guys swapped seats for more intimate friendship chatter!
    I have been catching up with you on Instagram as well. I am so ready to start wearing hats...thanks to you!
    (I will be seeking some of your resources in previous posts this weekend.)
    I can only hope and pray that I look half as lovely as your beautiful friend Silvia at age 70!
    That image of the two of you is one to cherish!
    You are a trooper with that foot!
    Sending more healing energy and prayers your way!

    1. Thanks so much! The foot is getting much better, finally. Silvia wasn't the friend turning 70. Oh, oh...she will kill me:)
      I better do some damage control.

  9. Hi Jennifer, I hope your leg is recovering... it's such a hassle to wear to boot cast. You are making me feel the need to go to Napa with all of these tempting photos of the wine country;) It looks like you had a nice visit with friends and an excellent meal.

    We are planning a week getaway soon and I am looking forward to getting away from my work and the "construction zone" for just a week. This house building stuff is mentally taxing ........

    1. I remember just how stressful remodeling is!! Do get away and treat yourself!!

  10. Sounds like another great time in Napa. It is about the company you keep...sounds like a lovely reunion.

    1. The company we keep is the most important! xo

  11. This looks like the perfect evening of friends, fun and delicious foodie goodness. Tra Vigne is a long time favorite of mine! Wonderful post! xx