November 14, 2013

Napa | Day One

Napa day one was really fun but also really exhausting. Our whole family are big wine drinkers so it's really hard to go wrong on a whole day that involves drinking wine. Since we had never been to Napa before and there are over 400 wineries to choose from we elected to go on a wine tasting tour. A driver picked us up at our hotel and he took charge making all the tasting appointments and carting us from destination to destination. I have to say that is the best way to do this for a first time trip. However, maybe you should not try to be quite as ambitious as us. We went to seven, yes seven, wineries in seven hours. We asked our driver if that was some kind of record but he just laughed and said he's taken people to 12 in a day before. I'm not sure how that's possible, ha ha. I'm going to break it down winery by winery and let you know our favorites. You should also know that my mom and I prefer red wine while my dad prefers white. Shelby will drink either. That will play into our opinions of the wineries.

Wine Tasting #1: Trefethen
This was a great start to our day. The grounds were GORGEOUS and the staff here was very welcoming. Surprisingly it was some of their white wines that were our favorites. Their 2012 Dry Riesling was a great start to the tasting and their 2012 Viognier was a kind of white I had never tasted before but really liked. Mom and I also really enjoyed their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine Tasting #2: Pine Ridge

This was probably our favorite tasting of the day. I probably liked it best as the tasting menu had a majority of reds. We walked away with several bottles so that should tell you something. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable and did a great job explaining each of the wines. Dad really loved the 2011 Dijon Clones Chardonnay (and I have to admit mom and I really liked this too) but the overwhelming favorite was their 2010 Onyx Cabernet.

At this point it was lunchtime so our driver brought us to Oakville Grocery to pick up some things for a picnic. This was such a cute little store and all of the sandwiches we tried were very yummy.

Wine Tasting #3: Rutherford Grove
This is one of the only wineries in Napa that allows you to bring in a picnic to enjoy on their grounds. They have picnic tables set up in the middle of their vineyard. I don't think picnics get much better than this.
The tasting itself was fun. Our pourer was probably in his 80s and he owns some of the vineyards and grows the grapes that are made into the winery's 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon which was my favorite wine on the tasting menu.
This is also the point in the day where we started splitting tastings as things were starting to get pretty silly. With each tasting having at least 5 different wines (with some wineries giving out bonus tastings) and the pours were pretty generous it was quickly becoming impossible to consume all you wanted to. Most of the wineries let two people share a tasting which is not only cheaper but it allows you to taste more without becoming intoxicated.

Wine Tasting #4: Raymond Vineyards
This is the point in the day where we started to loose Shelby, ha ha. She was finding it hard to keep up with us in the alcohol consumption area. To be honest this wine tasting was the least memorable of the day. I don't remember any specific wine standing out.

Wine Tasting #5: Caymus Vineyards
Shelby sat this tasting out. The grounds of the winery were beautiful and their were lots of outdoor seating options.
The tasting room here was very crowded as this is a very popular vineyard. Our tasting was pretty brief and the staff was so busy that we did not get a lot of information about the wines. However, a couple of the wines were very good and we ended up walking away with a few bottles of their 2011 Cabernet and their Conundrum which was the first white blend made in California. This tasting was on the more expensive side, especially since you only got to taste 4 different wines, but they give you your glass as a souvenir to take home so that was pretty cool.

Wine Tasting #6: Beaulieu Vineyard (aka BV)
This winery was probably the most well known of all we visited. You can find BV wines at most grocery and specialty stores around the country. Mom and I shared a tasting of 4 of their reds while dad got a tasting of 4 of their whites. They were all good but we didn't taste anything remarkable or unique. It was also pretty crowded here so the tasting experience was quick and not very informative.

Wine Tasting #7: Luna Vineyards
 Last but not least we made it to our final tasting of the day. We were brought to a private tasting room which was a nice way to sit and relax at the end of the day. The majority of the wines offered on the tasting menu were not my favorite but the 2012 Sangiovese was nice.
This is what 7 wineries in a day looks like
Our tour bus for the day. Highly recommend using them if you are ever in Napa. Our driver Lawrence was very knowledgeable and we learned lots of information throughout the day. Of importance- grapes wear sunscreen so they don't get sunburned and after it rains they get dried off by giant blow dryers. The one thing that struck me the most is the never ending vineyards. I don't know why this surprised me as, duh, this is wine country but you literally cannot look in any direction without seeing acres and acres of grapes. 

Up next- the final day or our trip...

Until Next Time

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