Napa Valley, oh glorious Napa Valley! I did not expect the culinary delights that would tease my tongue and capture my heart to such a great extent. The wine gods surely smiled down upon me as they poured their ruby and golden libations into my mouth. And like a good little servant, I submitted to their world.
We arrived in San Francisco around 12pm on Tuesday and headed straight for the wine country. Duh. We knocked out 4 wineries that day, mostly due to our naive enthusiasm. Like kids in a candy store I tell ya. Liquid candy…mmhmm.
- Domaine Carneros
- Cliff Lede
- Joseph Phelps
I was ravenous when we arrived, and therefore didn’t get any snaps of the yummy cheese plate we had at Domaine Carneros, paired with their yummy Avante Garde Pinot Noir. But check out the gorgeous grounds and French chateau that houses the tasting room. This was a little surprise Raul did for me, since he knows how I love anything European related. 🙂 A plate of fromage? Oui.
Chandon was next on the list, a winery that was all about the bubbles.
It was a celebration with every sip!
But Cliffe Lede proved to be the real gem of the day. A charming tiny winery where the proprieter gave us his undivided attention for an hour and a half while we went on a relishing tour of their varietals. And a few extra tastings here and there as well.
Then we got to wander around the grounds and the cute little gallery they have on the property.
On our last stop, we pulled up to Joseph Phelps as they were closing. 😦
But because of our loveable (and drunken, what of it?) demeanors, we hung out in the tasting room with our new friend Mike as he gave us sample after sample of their reserve wines (hello!) and then slipped us a card for 2 complimentary tastings for when we come back. Score!
We begin the long and windy (windey?) drive to our cabin on Lake Berryessa to have dinner and relax. An hour later we arrive, but it is dark and we won’t see the spectacular view until tomorrow. In the meantime, I whip up a little meal of salmon in a lemon, butter, and white wine sauce, accompanied with sauteed vegetables and pasta in vodka sauce and our Avante Garde Pinot Noir. Yeah it was a pretty good meal.
Then we pass out around 9pm. This might be because we were up since 4am, or it might be because we had multiple glasses of wine in quick succession. Who are you to judge???
We wake up to this –
Hmm. Not bad.
So we have breakfast out there.
Blah blah blah, on to the wine of the day! Due to our lack of stamina the previous evening, we figured this day would go more smoothly if we shared our tastings. Say what you will, scream if you must, but ’twas a great idea. I was there to taste great wine, not get smashed. Well maybe a little smashed. But moderation, please! We went to 5 wineries that second day. Who’s a rockstar? This girl. And that guy…
- Black Stallion
- Lunch: Rutherford Grille
We were scheduled to start at Darioush at 10:30 but ended up arriving in town around 10am. Which meant, find a winery that opens at 10. Thus by chance we happened upon Black Stallion and may I say they have a delicious Chardonnay. It was kismet.
Darioush was a masterpiece of Persian/Mediterranean architecture, with incredible wine to match. The Viognier stopped us in our tracks, along with their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon. Yum! Not to mention I couldn’t stop ooing and aahing once inside. Such pretty, shiny things to gaze upon.
We were late to our appt at Caymus (thanks to Darioush, I didn’t want to leave) but they let us in anyway. I wasn’t particularly impressed, but Raul was. Moving on…
to lunch!!! Everyone and their mom had been telling us about eating at Rutherford Grill. I was a bit dubious – how good could a restaurant be with “grill” in the title after all? Behold my prime rib sandwich.
Shut. Your. Face. It was good, that’s all. And one of the rare times in my life I ate horseradish.
In an attempt to shake our food coma, we roll to the car and drive to Cakebread.
We finish the day at ZD, and what a grand finish it was! I’m a bit happy by this point
We enter and Jorge greets us with a smile and gives a generous pour of their creamy Chardonnay. We swirl, sniff, sip, and smile. Always avoid annoying alliteration. Then he whisks us away into the barrel room for more wine. We stroll around then head back to the front where Jorge encourages us to stay by bringing out more wine and some cheese with ash in the middle. Ash! It tasted like a fireplace. And yes, if you’re wondering, I did lick a fireplace once. So that’s how I know.
Fun word of the day: charcuterie (shar-koo-tuh-ree)
We had NO idea what the hell that was…until we were edjumacated in Napa.
This was the night I proceeded to get car sick due to the bends in the road combined with lots of varietals sloshing in my tummy. Not a pleasant evening.