I was fortunate to spend this past weekend on a mini-vacation in Napa Valley. It was my first time in this verdant part of the country and I’ve never felt so vibrant and alive. After a particularly stressful week in the San Francisco Bay area enduring all-day meetings in windowless rooms, I craved the sunny, relaxing weekend on which I was about to embark.
Our only full day was Saturday so we opted to see wine country via bike with Napa Valley Bike Tours. I love cycling and wine so this proved to be the perfect combination. The day started out cooler and breezier than expected but by midday the sun felt warm and calming.
Our burly tour guide, North, introduced us to four smaller wineries in the Stags Leap region. I loved the concept of focusing on these destinations because we avoided the tour groups that typically swarm the larger, more commercial wineries. We also had a chance to engage more fully with the vintners who were truly passionate about their jobs.
North set our pace and it was comfortable but challenging. As I pedaled from winery to winery, breathing in the fresh unpolluted air and at times catching a whiff of the fresh rosemary that grows wildly throughout the valley, I felt connected to the earth in a new and meaningful way. On the bike I had time to reflect on how the wines I tasted that day were made from grapes grown and harvested just inches from where my bicycle tires grazed the gravel — the essence of local.
After a full and tipsy day of tasting which included a beautiful fresh, green and energizing lunch of sandwiches and salad from a local deli and then a couple of lazy hours relaxing in the sun by the hotel pool, we embarked on a culinary adventure at Ubuntu Restaurant and Yoga Studio. Ubuntu is a South African word that translates to “humanity toward others”. The word itself embodies an ideology of harmony and connection with others and the earth.
The restaurant’s philosophy is that of biodynamic farming, a principle that seeks to honor nature by acknowledging and integrating all aspects of its greatness while emphasizing healing and regeneration of the earth. Each dish is a celebration of bounty and all food is primarily grown in a garden just six miles away from the restaurant itself — picked hours before it touches the plate.
Our favorite dish of the night was the carta da muscia, a piece of crisp, delicious flatbread piled high with leaves, flowers, roots and shoots representing every color of the rainbow and finishing with a light lemon flavor. It was the most naturally delicious thing I have ever tasted! And not only was the food fresh, beautiful and nutritious, our server oozed positive energy which only enhanced the meal and our overall experience.
Reflecting on the day, I took a moment to appreciate everyone who made it possible. It was my perfect day — the kind of day I strive to have every morning when I wake up and give my day to the Universe. And while everyday isn’t always so ideal, it’s important to recognize the single moment of ubuntu in each and take at least one daily action to give back to the earth that sustains us.