One of the great things about this hobby is that it helps other Aston owners out with their projects. From time to time people ask if they can do something nice in return (which isn’t necessary) but I understand. This led me to create the Donate page (linked above) where kind contributors could pick out a nice treat for me and my Sweetie. I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity – Thank You!
A popular gift has been to buy my Sweetie and I brunch. This is a fun one for us every time. I figured it would be appropriate to share the ‘Thank You’ and also share the route we take and where we go in case someone else wants to have an enjoyable drive and meal. We make a morning out of it. In typical Steve style, here is my how to guide :>)
Step 1 – make a reservation for Brunch at Ad Hoc in Yountville, California. When people think about Napa Valley – what they really want to visit is Yountville. (about 7 miles North from Napa the city). Ad Hoc is a terrific restaurant owned by Thomas Keller (he is the chef/owner of the French Laundry – also in Yountville). The atmosphere is casual. The service is impeccable. You can relax, this isn’t a super high end foodie place, but isn’t a Denny’s either. Brunch is a fixed prix menu – you get whatever the chef has prepared (and is awesome!). It’s usually locally sourced and the veggies are grown in the French Laundry gardens down the street. If you are lucky – it will be their famous Chicken and Waffles. It’s made the list of one of the best restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area – you need to make a reservation a few weeks in advance. You can get walk in seating at the bar which is fun as well. We make our reservations for 10am on Sundays for Brunch.
Step 2 – have an enjoyable drive in the Aston to get to Yountville. We live in Sacramento, California and this is about 2 hours from Yountville/Napa Valley. Rather than take the main highways, we wander our way from Sacramento to pick up Highway 128 in Winters, California. Highway 128 winds through the hills with an endless series of twists and turns on excellent quality pavement. You’ll spend about an hour driving 46 miles of twisties through California Oaks and vineyards. Amazing views and driving road. I follow Hwy 128 past Lake Berryessa until it intersects 121, staying on 128 and then follow it past the Turtle Rock Bar and Cafe (a popular biker destination for those out enjoying the ride). This will bring you in north of Yountville until you intersect with Hwy 29 in Rutherford and then just a quick few miles back South to Yountville passing numerous wineries like Mondavi and Opus One. Plenty of parking for your Aston at Ad Hoc.
A tip is to drive the route early Sunday AM before traffic starts to build up. Highway 128 is an undivided 2 lane road with few passing areas, so you don’t want to get stuck in behind a Pinto station wagon. We’re usually on it about 8:45am and its typically clear sailing. Watch out for cyclists also doing a hill run, there is almost no shoulder and they can be out in the lane.
If you want to see the exact route in Google Maps check out the link here.
Step 3 – Not surprisingly the Aston usually gets there earlier than the Google navigation estimate (I wonder why?) and we have some time on our hands. Ad Hoc is essentially at the south end of the main drag (Washington Street). Take a walk North up Washington street. The town has an ‘Art Walk‘ and all along you’ll find some terrific art installations. You’ll eventually pass the Bouchon Bakery. This place is a terrific French Patisserie that we often stop at for a treat and a hot chocolate to die for. Also owned by Thomas Keller, but worth the wait. The line is almost always to the cross walk but stick it out, you’ll be rewarded. Continue North along Washington Street and wander through the fountain and rose garden in Yountville Park. There are picnic tables to sit at and enjoy your treat from the bakery. Keep going North just a half block more and you’ll discover The French Laundry (arguably one of the finest restaurants in America) and our favorite is to walk through the French Laundry Gardens immediately across the street. The gardens are wide open to meander through and it is encouraged to explore. They even have a guide of what is growing near the flag pole. Check out the chicken coop in the far corner near the covered green house. Now turn back around and head to Ad Hoc for brunch!
Step 4 – Enjoy a leisurely brunch at Ad Hoc. Working our way through the courses usually takes a comfortable hour or so.
Step 5 – With a great meal and drive completed you have to decide what to do next. We often do the walk again taking in the sites, and then enjoy the drive back to home again along 128 reversing the route for another hour of pure driving pleasure.
All this makes for a great day out enjoying the car, the company and the sites.
Thank you again to all the gracious readers that have donated a terrific life experience for me and my Sweetie. Now back into the shop to work off some of these calories.
An Open Invitation
If you are in Northern California with your Aston and would like to meet up to do the drive and a brunch along with me and my Sweetie please reach out on the Contact Page. Sounds like a great way to make some new friends and share our love of cars.