My cousin Jason, knows wine. He researches it for hours, he meets the wine makers and owners, he explores different parts of the region and actually MOVED his family to wine country two years ago. HE KNOWS WINE! He has been such an amazing resource over the last few weeks. He literally set me up with online map of the wineries and would gentle remind me with a text each day about what year or wine to ask for at each location.
For my last day in Napa he scheduled four wineries for us to tour and taste. These were not your typical bar tastings nor your typical wines. They don’t bring these wines out for just anyone … and typically you wouldn’t open these up on a week night.
Jason, his lovely wife Kim and their two sweet kids met Tracy (college besty) and I at Chateau Boswell. An amazing property off of the Silverado Trail. We quickly entered into their caves and walked through barrels and barrels of wine until we turned into a small alcove. Tucked behind several more stacks of barrels was a glass table filled with several wine glasses, a HUGE arrangement of fresh flowers and an amazing presentation of a “boutique” winery called Realm Cellars. We all sat down with our jovial french guide Didier who spoke to us about the wines. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand his english—:( And if you know me, you know that I can’t hide my feelings from my facial expressions. (it’s a terrible quality) My friend Tracy laughed because she could totally tell that I had NO idea what he was saying! Either way, the wines spoke for themselves. It’s amazing, like off the charts, amazing!! I could have easily been persuaded to stayed and just DRINK- but we had more vineyards to get to!
Next up we headed to Schramsburg Winery to try to some sparkling wines. Although we had an OVERLY perky wine guide; Jason, Tracy and I survived the tour and enjoyed their maze of caves. They store over 3 million bottles in their caves and didn’t lose a single bottle in the big earthquake last year. It’s really unbelievable in there. he sparkling wines were good, better than I’d expected as I generally don’t prefer sparkling wines/ champagne.
Next up LUNCH! Jason and Kim picked a great place that the locals go to, Oakville Grocery. Highly recommended. Cheese, fresh bread, and other easy to-go items.
We headed up the mountain after lunch to Pritchard Hill. This area of Napa is highly regarded, mountain fruits can/should be aged longer than valley fruits. (This little tid bit of knowledge is one of the many that I learned this week) As we crept up the mountain we passed fields and fields of grapes but no cars- this area is not a touristy area. We later learned that that the winery is only allowed 2 visiting cars per day on their property.
We pulled into Continuum and I took a deep breath. WHAT A PROPERTY! Continuum is the baby of Tim Mondavi, so — they have some experience behind their wines. :) Our host greeted us at the front of the enormous glass tasting building. The doors on each building had to be 20-30 feet tall, all glass with dark metal framing. Although huge, the furnishings and setting is so intimate that it wasn’t overwhelming. We walked outback and saw the outline of buildings in San Fransisco. Literally, Ana Marie our guide said that in 4 years she had never seen it so clear. I wish I had bought my big camera with me. We walked through their processing building which had several large wood vats and a concrete fermentation tank. The room is pristine, I can’t imagine what it looks like during harvest.
Then it was time to TASTE, we moved back into the all glass tasting room and sat down at a gorgeous table, filled with cheese, bread and wine. Then we tasted and oh, it was so smooth and velvety. (wine people use that word a lot, but it was true here) Try this wine even if only once… try it. If you have a chance to go- go, the views were epic and the wine worth, every penny!
Cardinale was out last stop of the day. It’s tasting building is in the valley but on a hill, so it has a great view of the valley and the surrounding mountains. I LOVE being surrounded by mountains. Jason and Kim personally knew our wine guide at Cardinal so again we were totally spoiled. (Cheeses, nuts, fruits, pâté … and WINE!) We sat around a huge wood table with 3 poured glasses in front of each of us. The first wine was an unexpected one for me … and you may even think less of me, but it was good, really easy to drink. It was a Merlot. THERE I said it! MERLOT! lol I’m not even sure the last time I had one. I don’t prefer Pinot Noir either, so it’s not just Merlot. I just really like a full bodied wine, which traditionally is a cab. (If you read my earlier blogs, you’ll note that I have found a couple Pinot’s that I like here) The other 2 were cabs, but from different years. Erik wanted us to try the wines side by side so we could tell the differences between the two. What’s interesting about their cab is that it’s a blend of cabs from 4 different mountains. They were SO good, and there is possibility that I didn’t spit out each sip I took! These wines were $300, yes $300, not a typo—a bottle! I hated to leave any amount in the glass …
As our day wrapped up at 5pm, we headed to dinner dinner at Press. A very high-end place with great food and wine choices. Unfortunately, I think we were all full from all the cheese, fruit and breads that we had eaten throughout the day. It was a great dinner though and nice to relax with the kids and talk about our day!
Thanks again to Jason and Kim for taking me to so many places today, I’d have never found those by myself, let alone been invited in!!! It was a once in a lifetime experience.