Napa Valley

Trip Start Apr 05, 2008
Trip End Mar 20, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Friday, May 16, 2008

It's a scorching sun blistering 37oC in Napa Valley and we're loving it!  After a fabulous lunch and a few phone calls for accommodation in keeping with our flashpacking (let's be honest the backpacking has not really featured yet) we headed to the Wine Country Inn where wine and appetizers are served complimentary daily between 4.30pm and 6.30pm so bring your appetites!  We headed to St Helena where the Wine Country Inn is located along the Silverado Trail and had to stop in at some wineries along the way.  The Americans certainly know how to do wineries, the closest comparison I can think of at home is Craggy Range.  We stopped off at The Black Stallion, which has only been open for a year and is a very impressive estate.  We enjoyed their 2006 Napa Valley Muscat which is a light sweet wine perfect with cheese so much so we had to buy a bottle to enjoy at some point along the way.  We then visited Hagafen which has been producing wine since 1980 and has won an incredible amount of medals for their wines.  Although not on the grandeur scale of many of the other wineries in the region they had some excellent wines, namely the 2003 Reserve EB Cabernet Sauvignon MJT block (if you're out in Napa grab a bottle).  From there we continued to Darioush, a winery we had had recommended to us by the sommelier at Cascadia in Seattle.  Gareth was gutted to learn that we had only just missed Andre Agassi who had been there to enjoy lunch with the owner.  Darioush grew up in Iran with his father a hobbyist wine maker.  Darioush left Iran in the 1970s and bought with his brother a grocery business which is now one of the most successful in LA and hence he was able to build this grand and impressive winery with excellent wines.  Our favourite was the Duel, 60% cab sav, 40% shiraz.  Our final stop was at Signorello, another winery recommended to us by the sommelier at Cascadia.  I think 3 wineries in one day is enough, can't remember anything outstanding about this last one ;-)  We checked into the Wine Country Inn just on 4pm so enough time to unpack and get ready for more wine with appetizers.  A pleasant way to spend the rest of the day on the sun filled balcony, dinner was certainly not needed.  Awaking to 39oC and it's not even lunchtime (although close) we headed down for a sumptuous breakfast (the granola house-made and zucchini bread are definitely worth returning for).  Our first winery of the day was Castello di Amorosa where the owner has a passion for castles and this is nothing short of fairytale.  It took 14 years to build and is still a work in progress with plans for chickens and a medieval village feel (guess that makes us the peasants ;-).  The wines are worthy of a king, their 2005 reserve Chardonnay was our weakness.  We then headed to Charles Krug hoping that it had a link to Krug champagne.  Alas no but it's one of the oldest wineries in Napa, owned by the Mondavi Brothers, responsible for putting Napa on the map.  Their 2006 Zinfandel was incredible, it was like experiencing all the Napa fruits in one mouthful.  Rubicon (owned by Nicholas Cage's family, The Coppola's) is one of the oldest producing wineries with an impressive estate and great wines to boot, namely the Rubicon.  At this point we're getting wined out and head to Peju, for the funky trees if nothing else.  Selling themselves as a boutique winery it was pretty much a hard sell to get you to join their wine club which is only available to US residents.  More frustrating was being given a chardonnay to try that we were not able to buy and it was the only one we liked.  They also had almost no clue that New Zealand existed let alone produced wines.  We gladly left and headed to V.Sattui which is known for it's picnic spot and deli.  Deli did not disappoint so we enjoyed some food under the shade of the trees at one of their many picnic tables before heading back to the hotel for a much needed swim.  For dinner we went to Martini House which again the Cascadia Sommelier had recommended.  The setting was stunning the food was over complicated although some dishes shone, the duck and tapioca were excellent.  An enjoyable evening in the warm Napa air.  We would definitely return to Napa with a group of friends for a week of excellent wines and summer fun.  There are so many wineries still to try and so many restaurants. 
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