Sunny Sunday in Napa
Our founding fathers were smart; they founded our country on two important values: booze and freedom.
In a valiant effort to drown out the corporate noise that is ever-present in my mind, my co-worker, Amanda, and I decided to take a journey 2h north to Magical Napa Valley. Although I spend a lot of time living and working out in the Bay Area I have never managed the journey up the coast to Napa. This is coming from someone who adores wine; the science and agriculture are just as fascinating for me as the subtleties of flavor in each glass that I consume (of which there are a lot).
That being said, I started off my Sunday morning with a leftover salad from the night before and the largest cappuccino that I could buy at Peet’s Coffee. Since we weren’t in any hurry, Amanda made the executive decision to drive up interstate 680 so that we could enjoy the spring scenery. She couldn’t have made a better decision. The green rolling hills continued uninterrupted by houses or mankind for hours. The view was only broken up by the intermittent drizzle that coated the landscape making it sparkle in the sun that flitted in and out of the clouds with indecision. Despite nature’s half-hearted attempt to rain (we can thank the California drought here) the weather was perfect.
We started the day at the Schramsberg Winery in Calistoga, which is right next door to Napa. Having never been wine tasting except in a grocery store I didn’t know what the protocol was for being allowed into the caves that housed my favorite weekend beverage. Unfortunately, this particular winery proved to be exclusive. There was a waiting list to enter the tasting room that housed some of the most historical sparkling Napa wines. This honestly should not have surprised us as there were immaculately dressed couples wandering the grounds while we showed up in Patagonia jackets and San Francisco Giants hats. The disparity between us proved too great for the stewards of the winery to allow us admittance. Coming to terms with our exclusion, we decided to go to another historic winery a couple of miles down the road and significantly more commercialized: Beringer.
At Beringer we were infinitely more successful in our wine-seeking quest. In fact, we were presented with options on which cellar we would like to visit depending on our wine preferences. As it was a warm spring day we decided to go with light-medium bodied wines.
Mark took care of us during our wine tasting. Since there were 2 of us and 6 wines we logically decided to share so that we could try them all. What a great idea that was! Amanda and I chatted with Mark throughout the entire tasting, taking photos of his pours and enjoying lively conversation and as a result got 2 free glasses or sparkling wine to enjoy!
Mark’s hefty pours and flowing conversation persuaded us to purchase a bottle of reisling which continued on with us to our next winery : Duckhorn Vineyards.
When we arrived at Duckhorn we realized that it was already late in the day and since it was a Sunday the vineyards closed at 4pm. It was almost like they were encouraging their patrons to be responsible adults and return home to sleep off their potential hangovers for Monday morning. Knowing that this was going to be our last stop, Amanda and I went ahead and splurged for the full tasting : 5 wines from the Duckhorn estates. I hate to admit it, but the hostess may have had a hand in convincing us to enjoy the full flight of wine by handing us a sparkling beverage as we walking in the door.
Duckhorn Vineyards was the tastiest vineyard that we visited that day. The wines in our flight were top notch and we were nearly persuaded to purchase a bottle of 2011 Goldeneye Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley for $55. We only reconsidered since we are both planning on quitting our jobs within the month. Unfortunately im still wishing that I had a bottle of that to enjoy
All in all, I would venture to say that we had a successful day that ended on a high note. After our adventure to Napa we drove back home into the sunset, because one’s first afternoon in Napa wouldn’t be complete without a cliche ending!