another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's All Grape to Me

We're back in Aurora now, but I'll continue the California trip report. This should be part 3 of 4.

Thursday we set off from San Bruno at about 8am to go to the Napa Valley. It takes a while to drive, since we had to drive through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and then a ways north through Marin, Sonoma, and finally Napa counties.

Right after crossing the Golden Gate there is an exit for a Vista View, which gives a nice view of the bay and of the bridge. I got a number of good pictures of the bridge, though it was a bit foggy for any other view. This was also the point where I began to wonder if I'd made a bit mistake -- I forgot my jacket in the hotel room, realized it as we were getting into the car, and decided not to bother going back up to get it. Here it was cold and WINDY! It wasn't a problem the rest of the day though.

We hadn't made any tour or tasting reservations, and I thought it wouldn't be a big issue since this was a Thursday and not yet peak time. Ellen had picked out three wineries that she thought would be good to stop at, and we decided to start at the one in the north and work our way back. On the way Ellen noticed that in one of our information packs our first planned stop was listed as "by reservation only", but Ellen called and made a reservation for about what time we figured on getting there -- no problem. She also then called our second stop, and they said we wouldn't need a reservation, that they weren't that busy that day.

On the way up I saw a sign for Visitor Information, which I think wound up mostly being an excuse for them to lead us through half the town of Napa. We got to the information area, though, and got a better map of the area which was useful for the rest of the day.

First actual stop was at the Joseph Phelps winery. They don't do production tours, so this was just a tasting. Ellen and I shared the tasting (rather than pay for each of us). This was an informal tasting where we got to sample five wines, and they were poured as we were ready for each rather than with everyone tasting at the same time. The guy leading the tasting was informative enough, I suppose, and was interesting, but as usual the subtleties of the wine were lost on me. The $165 bottle didn't taste 'better' (or pricier) than the $40 bottle, and if I'd had a $5 bottle nearby I can't say it would have been different. The views were nice, though.

The next stop was Robert Mondavi wineries, where we got a good tour of the production facilities and tasted several grape varieties that we picked right off the vine. Then there was a tasting of three wines, which was led a bit more formally (our group of 15 all sampling at the same time). The Pinot Noir tasted the best, but again I can't say it was amazingly different than other wines I've tasted. I think the whole thing is lost on me, and I'm better off just having a decent beer and forgetting about the wine.

We stopped for a late lunch at a place that was not quite the informal place that I was planning on (hint: anywhere that lists an executive chef isn't exactly informal), but the offerings also weren't expensive ($15 for each of our lunch specials) and were very good.

Our last stop of the day was to the Gloria Ferrer champagne cave, which the guide we had listed as having a good tour. I figured we may be getting there too late for a tour though, and we got there and there was a sign that said "No public tours today", so it wouldn't have mattered if we got there any earlier. We decided to pass on getting a tasting there, as we'd had enough for the day (and I've never had a champagne that I cared for anyway).

We called it a day, drove back to the hotel, and picked up a pizza from a place right next to the hotel and ate it in the room that evening. Then crashed for the night.

Tomorrow I'll finish the report with our trip to Monterrey and Carmel.


Post a Comment

<< Home