Occasionally, I have these grand epiphanies that result in the amazing and surprising realization that hey, I live in California. Yes Yes, I know what state I live in. But when you really think about it, any Californian lives just a few hours from the beach, the mountains, amazing cities, and of course, some of the most amazing wineries in the country (if not, world). So lately, I've actually tried to capitalize on this, taking trips to Palm Springs, and just recently, Napa. Napa is a strange yet wonderful place that manages to be cosmopolitan and bustling, while feeling completely remote and rustic. It's the place that put Californian and American wines on the world's culinary radar, and it boasts some of the most exquisite restaurants in the world (hello, The French Laundry). It's a place for high-society sophisticates who know a thing or two about wine, and also me and my boyfriend who get sloppy-drunk after just one tasting.
We drove up to San Luis Obispo on Friday night (which was a really good call-- it was only 2.5 hours and helped to break up the drive immensely), heading up to Napa on Saturday morning. Staying at the Senza-- a boutique hotel that's smack dab between Downtown Napa and Yountville-- we really went for the minimalistic, relaxing, low-key kind of weekend. The Senza was nice: simple, modern, and served wine and cheese during happy hour, so we were pretty much set.
On Sunday, we decided to squeeze in as many wine tastings as possible. A tip for you lovely readers: wineries usually close around 4:30-5, so try to head out as early as you can stomach alcohol, and go to no more than 3 tastings. Anything more than that, and you're really rushing.
The first winery on the tour was Hall; owned by the Hall family, the place looks like a modern museum or college campus. It was airy and spacious, with a modern-art focus and plenty of natural light. We enjoyed the tasting, concentrating on reds and their cabernets (which are their signatures).
Next up was Grgich Hills, one of Napa's oldest and most well-respected establishments. Grgich is one of the wineries that put Napa on the map, and it looks like a small, beautiful estate in Southern Italy. The tasting room is in a small, cool basement, while the outside patio area is light and airy. Our tasting was great, as was to be expected. Though who knows? We were already pretty drunk at this point.
Our final tasting of the afternoon (we skipped lunch to get here...in hindsight, not the greatest plan) was at Stag's Leap, another of Napa's fine, well-known establishments. The tasting room was located in a modern, contemporary building surrounded by acres of vineyard, mountains, and greenery. It was really breathtaking. I want to say our tasting was great, because we ordered a case of the Cabernet. Things definitely got fuzzier at this point.
For our first serious tasting tour, it was great. Learned some valuable lessons (hydration and food are key), and tasted some amazing wines.