Friday, April 9, 2010

A Tour of Napa Valley, Part I

(It was mustard season! Mustard was growing around all of the vines, giving nitrogen to the soil. Very beautiful!)
The last day I was in California, during my recent vacation, I went on a Napa Valley Winery tour with a few of my friends. Very sadly, my good friend Sarah, who I was visiting, came down with food poisoning the previous evening, so she was unable to join us. We went on a private boutique wine tour, using Beau Wine Tours. Although a little pricey, it was definitely worth the money. The last thing you want to worry about, when touring wine country, is having a designated driver. Our tour guide/driver, Steve, had even grown up in the Napa Valley area and had always worked in some facet of the wine industry. He knew his stuff and had many useful contacts. Several of the wineries he took us to, weren't even open to the public. Most of the wineries we visited produce 10,000 cases or less a year, had incredibly small distributions and didn't ship outside of California. These boutique winemakers LOVED their craft and really made wine for the love of wine. It was truly inspiring to get to sit down with them and hear about their business.

The first winery we visited (pretty sure it was before 10am) was Robert Biale, in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. We were told that this vineyard was making wine since before prohibition. During prohibition, it was a regular working farm as well as a winemaker. So people would call up the winery, ask for legal things (a pound of walnuts, two pounds of strawberries) and a "black chicken". "Black chicken" was their secret password for a gallon of red wine! We saw this sign on our way to the tasting room.

Next up, we visited the very well renowned Oakville Grocery, where we picked up our lunch for later. What an adorable little store! Don't know why I didn't think to take a picture inside. If you know me at all, you know that I love to eat and consider myself somewhat of a foodie. This was a foodie's delight! We knew we wanted to pick up a few cheeses, along with the fancy sandwiches that we had ordered ahead. The cheese case was quite remarkable! We ended up picking a brie that had a pesto/pinenut spread in the center and a semi-soft cheese that I don't recall, as well as some crackers that they made right in the store.

Then onto Sequoia Grove! This winery was not actually on the schedule, but we had a little time to kill before lunch, so we decided to stop in. The man who served us wine ended up being from Kansas City, named Jack. (Us Midwesterners, tend to spot each other, somehow.) He was a recent retiree, who had always dreamed of working in a wine tasting room. He was so nice, really took his time talking with us and even gave us a extra tasting. A really pleasant extra visit! By now, we were starting to get hungry, so we headed over to Rutherford, for lunch. We first went into the tasting room to buy a bottle of wine to have with lunch. In the meantime, Steve, our tour guide, set up a table cloth picnic, overlooking a fantastic view of Napa Valley! We were told that this winery was not necessarily know for their wine, but was known for their view! It was gorgeous!! Fancy lunch from Oakville...
Cheese plate... View!! This picture doesn't even do it justice. It was AMAZING!
More to come.... If anyone has any Blogger tips, please share! It's a little painful to get pictures where you want them. I was told I could cut and paste, but was not able to do so! I'm sure it's user error. Need to research this, very hard to click and drag pictures, where you want them to go. Ugh!

No comments:

Post a Comment