Finding My Nature

Trip Start Jul 03, 2009
Trip End Aug 16, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We woke up for our big day in Napa refreshed by our fantastic nights' sleep in our lovely Luxury Small Hotel of the World (Joe is an ace on Priceline, he and William Shatner go way back).ready to conquer Napa’s offerings. After a lovely breakfast at our hotel with the daughters of the revolution where Joe had a major spilling incident mentioned previously in this blog, we headed out to our olive oil tasting at Round Pond.

After a brief introduction to the olive plant and the gorgeous granite mill as well as some annoying questions from older bejeweled overly demanding folks (can you name all 8 types of olive varietals? What is that on the ground? Maam, that’s grass…) we were lead to a beautifully appointed table with many different types of olive oil and fresh greens, cheeses and fruits. Tasting olive oil is similar to how the Japanese consume noodle soup, loud, slurpy and never pretty. Our guide had mentioned that some of the oils we would be slurping would give us a big peppery kick in the back of the throat. Now it was my turn to be embarrassed as I not only gave off the polite Italian 3 cough acknowledgement of well pressed olive oil but spewed out a massive bronchial fit that amused all of the wrinkly folks at the table. I simply muttered that "I’m a super taster" and reached for the cheese to soothe myself.

On to the main attraction, wine. We had made appointments at a few places but had some time before our first tasting so chose a place called Peju that just looked nice complete with statues of naked women and fountains. A lot of the wines reminded me of the rose vintage that St. Alphonsus Church in Greendale Wisconsin served as the blood of Christ.

It was lunchtime and we headed to a pizza place in our hotel which was fantastic but quickly consumed as another wine appointment was calling.

 Moving on to Quintessa, a winery recommended by the Old Gray Lady that has yet to steer us astray. We had made a reservation that morning and when making it, the woman was shocked that they had availability. Not really thinking anything of it we pulled up and were introduced to our private host Mary who would be leading us through our tasting. The wines, setting, and Mary were all fantastic. She reminded me of Jeffrey Keyes’ mother who if you are priviledged enough to know her, is a quirky sassy lady who tells it just how it is. We definitely had the best host in the place and I think Mary liked us too because she let us taste some of the 2002 vintage that the wine gods had just opened for a private party the night before. The wines were beautifu, generously doled outland expensive and we decided that the private club that is Quintessa would just have to be burned into our memories and not into our check books.

One more winery to go (I know I know, only three wineries? We were driving and were already thinking that the speed limit on the curvy roads of 55mph was getting a bit too intense at this point). This was my choice as they supposedly specialized in ice wine. So far, our wineries had been pretty classy places but we had heard from our good friend Nick that a lot of the wineries were loud and filled with bachelorette parties in limos. This hadn’t been our experience until Joseph Phillips. The scenery was amazing but there was definitely an obnoxious party going on that did not match the ambiance of the place. We also came to discover that they don’t make ice wine, but more like an ice wine product. Sigh.

After all of that wine with very little food we were in need of a rest. Joe went comatose back at the hotel and I watched Oprah interview the women of the FLDS cult (Margo, were you watching)?

We had some big dinner decisions to make, this was our last meal in Napa and we wanted to make it count. Our Quintessa hostess Mary had given her some of her favorites, including Bottega, Michael Chiarello’s new restaurant. You know Michael, he’s the boring one on the Food Network  that you skip at 9AM. However, he is not boring in the kitchen. He was there while we ate supervising his latest place and  we were impressed with his amazing but simple Italian dishes.

After dinner, if this is possible, we were done with wine and food so we started to head back to the hotel to gear up for our drive into San Francisco in the morning. As we were driving back and the sun was setting over the acres of vineyards ahead of us, I couldn’t help but think of what Ranger Anne said in the Moab Desert about finding your personal connection to nature and integrating it into your story. The beauty and grace of the Napa landscape will be a wonderful part of my personal story for a long time to come. 
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