It is true that I have never been to Napa. I don’t even recall ever visiting a winery before, at all. Thirty-one years and no first-hand knowledge of wine making. Call it what you will, but I call it ridiculous and outright absurd.
Funny enough, Napa was not in our original plan. As we sat at the campground in Umpqua State Park in Oregon, I casually mentioned I’d always wanted to go to Napa. Since we have somewhat of a flexible road trip itinerary, we added it. Just like that.
Andrew, our good friend James and I set out last Friday morning for Napa from James’ apartment in Los Gatos. The high temperature for the day was predicted to hit the low 90s – hot and dry in the Napa Valley seems to be quite normal for early September. No agenda was plotted, although we received some great suggestions from friends on wineries to visit. We took our time driving around, admiring the sweeping vineyards.
Making Rutherford Ranch our first stop, we strolled up to the tasting room where James and I shared a flight while Andrew took some photos of the external picnic areas. My favorite wine was their Sauvignon Blanc. It had a crisp, fruity taste that was perfection on such a warm day.
((Someone please explain to my husband that spending half our days allowance or more on a wine tasting in Napa is highly acceptable))
We departed Rutherford contemplating where our next stop should be. Working our way back to the main road, St. Helena Highway/Highway 29, we passed by a large sign that said “Winery of the Year 2011, 2012″** and decided to see what the hype was about. The estate turned out to be V. Sattui Winery, and after our visit, it is clear to see why all the numerous awards and accolades – all well deserved.
Not only does V. Sattui have a wine cellar, two tasting rooms and gorgeous vineyards, they have a welcoming, mostly-shaded picnic area and a European-style deli and marketplace. This was such a prize find for three very warm and hungry visitors. We wandered around the grounds a bit, then headed into the deli where we picked out a large loaf of freshly baked bread, packet of dry salami, some potato chips, drinks, and of course each picked out a cheese ((mine was a garlic & chive brie, Andrew’s an English Farmhouse cheddar, and James’ picked out a French soft variety that was being sampled in the deli)) and enjoyed the finest picnic on the lawn of the winery.
Embarrassingly enough, I never even tried the wines at V. Sattui. How lame is that? Such a rookie move. Being the lightweight that I am these days, I may have been getting a little bit drunk after the first tasting, and was enjoying the grounds and picnic at V. Sattui so much that we left without even having a tasting. On top of that, they sell their wines exclusively at the winery and through their website. Which means I must order some wines on their site ((they even have an iPhone app!)) AND plan a trip back there sometime in the future – especially considering we didn’t even make it in to Sonoma, let alone put the smallest dent in Napa. James was the smart one in the end, purchasing a bottle of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon before we left, and I can’t wait for him to report back how it tastes!
I feel as though visiting Napa is like arriving at legitimate adulthood. There are certain events that occur and seem as though it translates to reaching adulthood – like renting a car; booking a non-family vacation out of state or in another country; leaving your 20s behind as you celebrate the big 3-0; getting married; etc. Ok so all of those things may feel like adulthood; but when you visit Napa or Sonoma, it feels sophisticated and special enough to feel like real and true adulthood.
This visit to Napa has me incredibly excited to visit France and Italy to see what European wineries and wine-making is all about!
**V. Sattui was named 2011 and 2012 Winery of the Year at the Monterey Wine Competition. They were also named 2012 “Best Winery” in the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s 38th Annual Best of the Bay Reader’s Poll for the second year in a row. On top of that, they have won numerous awards for specific wines, and their Director of Winemaking, Brooks Painter, won 2013 Winemaker of the Year at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
As always, all opinions in this post are my own.