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Napa Valley Wine Train
Members of the WineCountry.com staff recently had the pleasure of dining on the Napa Valley Wine Train's Gourmet Dinner Excursion. The truly unique combination of fine dining and restored railway attraction provided by the Wine Train allows guests to experience the Napa Valley from a charmingly different perspective.
While waiting to board the train, passengers relax on comfortable sofas in the well-appointed station or browse through the gift and wine shops. During this time a wine tasting is conducted. While the wines are being poured and served by attendants, a free exchange of questions and answers is encouraged and guests are entertained with bits of oenological history and trivia. As diners are required to check in a half-hour before boarding, this activity provides a pleasant diversion.
The boarding begins 30 minutes prior to departure, bringing with it an air of excitement and anticipation — a strangely exotic feeling for locals who see the Napa Valley on a daily basis! As passengers approach the train, an enthusiastic photographer takes a photo of each dinner party or couple, and a high quality souvenir print can be purchased upon returning to the station.
Seating is assigned in the meticulously restored and beautifully decorated dining cars, and the attentive waiters are ready with menus, ice water, and offerings of a variety of beverages as soon as diners are settled. Exemplifying all of the Napa Valley Wine Train's staff, our servers for the evening, Don and Jose, were attentive, polite, and provided superb service.
There are two seatings for the Lunch and Dinner excursions. We had the first seating, enjoying our appetizers, salad, fruit ices, and main course in the Dining Car on the journey northward. The appetizer was an Array of Cured Meats, Cheese & Olives with Roasted Red Pepper & Artichoke Hearts, and was followed by a fresh salad of young greens with Pesto Mozzarella and Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes. The Intermezzo course of Harlequin Ices - cantaloupe, apricot, and lemon - was elegant and delightful, and our Entree selections of fresh Baked Halibut with baby vegetables and Roasted Angus Tenderloin with Sauteed Oyster & Shiitake Mushrooms were outstanding and will long be remembered.
The view of Wine Country from the train as you pass vineyards, homes, and wineries, is especially pleasant once the train leaves the town of Napa and moves up valley. The train travels at a leisurely pace, giving diners time to truly admire the landscape. At either end of the train are open-air observation decks where you can stand and watch the Napa Valley go by. The atmosphere is festive as children, winery visitors, and motorists smile and wave. Some, while they wait at highway railroad crossings, hold camcorders out car windows to record the train's passing. One man hung out the window of his car, apparently offering two bottles of wine as we cruised by!
The Wine Train travels from the city of Napa to St. Helena, where the engines disengage from one end of the train and reattach to the opposite end for the journey back to Napa. This is a perfect time to wander the length of the train, stopping to view the Chef and culinary staff as they work in the professional restaurant kitchen car.
Dessert in the lounge car: Chocolate Back-Porch Bourbon Cake and a Chocolate Mousse Kiss accompanied by excellent coffee and cream. Attended to once again, by the Wine Train's cheerful and courteous staff, this was the perfect way to end our romantic journey through the Napa Valley.
Local or visitor — don't miss a luxury excursion on the Napa Valley Wine Train!
TraVent Fine Wine Travel
TraVent, Finewinetravel.com, the leading fine wine cruise company, creatively combines luxury travel, fine wine and cuisine with the best value and the most amenities the industry has to offer. TraVent's unique programs were created for sophisticated wine and food enthusiasts who demand the same high quality of people and experiences in their travel, as they do in their everyday lives.
TraVentIs exciting 2002 fine wine travel programs include the beauty of the Virgin Islands, the exotic Society Islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora, the rugged splendor of Alaska, Scandinavia & Russia, Costa Rica, and wine country river cruises through France and Italy, along with other beautiful destinations.
Each trip is hosted by some of the leading wine and food experts in the world, including Wine Expert, Bartholomew Broadbent, Dawnine Dyer, renowned Winemaker Emeritus of Domaine Chandon, White House Wine Consultant David Berkley, and famed chefs such as Napa Valley's Hiro Sone of Terra restaurant.
For more information and reservations,
call TraVent toll free at 888-208-8338.
Battle of the Appellations
The essence of the Battle of the Appellations contest is to take a fabulous wine and taste it alongside delicious food to truly test the complexities of the wine and its ability to pair with various flavors and textures. Recipes are sent to wineries throughout the Wine Country regions of California. They are invited to review the recipes and submit two bottles of their best wines, chosen to match the dish. The tasting panel is presented the wines in a blind tasting and pair each wine with a specific dish.
Our July 2002 Battle of the Appellations contest was held at the Napa Valley Grille, http://www.calcafe.com/napa_valley/ located in Yountville, CA. The unique character, Wine Country style and culinary sensations added to the ambiance of this perfect setting for our wine & food-pairing contest. Our gracious host, Michael Martin provided the WineCountry.com panel an elegant table, beautifully decorated, in a private room. The delightful chef, Gina Decew, prepared two incredible dishes for our tasting panel.
Paired with white wine was Ahi Tuna Tartare, a delicately flavored dish of diced sashimi-grade tuna seasoned with capers, radish sprouts, avocado, and mango, dressed with a golden balsamic aioli and served on crisp focaccia toast. This delicious dish matched remarkably well with our winner, a sparkling wine, the S. Anderson 1997 Napa Valley Brut. Selling for $28 per bottle, this wine is an equal blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and is classic bubbly. Rich but not heavy, crisp fruit plays center stage with tiers of green apple and Asian pear tinged with citrus zest. www.sandersonvineyard.com
Paired with red wine was a delightful Honey Barbecued Quail Salad, featuring grilled quail served over an arugula-celery leaf salad and dressed with a Point Reyes Blue Cheese Dressing. The winning wine for this dish was Goosecross Cellars 1999 Napa Valley Sangiovese. Selling for $32 per bottle, the wine is cranberry brick red with an aromatic nose full of cherries. Flavors rich with plum, cherry, wild berry jam, vanilla, sage, almond, cranberry, and eucalyptus finish with spicy white and black pepper. This spicy wine perfectly enhanced the mix of textures and zest of the quail dish. www.goosecross.com
Thank you to all participants including our hosts, Napa Valley Grille, www.calcafe.com/napa_valley/
The Royal Oak Dining at Silverado Resort—Napa Valley
Dining at its best!
What could be better than a great glass of Cab and the perfect steak? Or fresh seafood flown in daily from Hawaii? The Royal Oak at the Silverado Resort, a dining experience you don't want to overlook, is truly one of Napa Valley's best restaurants.
Winecountry.com is proud to recommend Royal Oak at the Silverado Resort as our August Dining Recommendation. Nothing trendy here, just a real standard of dining in the Napa Valley.
Forty-five minutes North of San Francisco in California's renowned Napa Valley lies the Silverado Resort. A historic 1,200-acre destination resort set in the rolling sunny hills of the Wine Country. Featuring 280 deluxe cottage suites and condominiums, two of the finest 18 hole golf courses in northern California, nine swimming pools, a spectacular spa & fitness center, extensive tennis complex and a comprehensive conference center, all in a breathtaking country setting, Silverado has twice been honored California Resort of the Year.
Members of the WineCountry.com editorial staff recently dined at the Royal Oak Restaurant. Warmly greeted by the maitre d', we were seated at a corner table surrounded by large windows overlooking the beautiful gardens and South Course. While viewing the extensive and impressive wine list we enjoy a basket of a variety of freshly baked breads with a tasty olive oil & balsamic vinegar mix for dipping.
While sipping our glasses of Chardonnay, we listened to our charming and attentive waiter, Abdel, very expertly explain the specials of the evening. We chose a delicious fresh Salad of Mixed Greens & Bread — Tuscan Style, served with a red wine mustard vinaigrette and topped with crumbled blue cheese for our starter. Silverado takes particular pride in their steaks and seafood. The main course menu consists of subtly seasoned entrees broiled over mesquite charcoal. Choices included beef, chicken, duck, pork rib chops, lamb chops, veal chops, shrimp, salmon, swordfish, tuna, and two pound live Main lobsters. For our entrées we chose the evening's "special", a Bone-in Rib Eye Steak with a horseradish butter, and the Porterhouse Steak. Both were mesquite grilled, with cheddar cheese Yukon gold mashed potatoes and a sautéed variety of fresh local beans and squash. These meats are graded by the U.S. government, "certified" to be in the top 5% of the choice market. Grilled to perfection under the direction of Silverado's Executive Chef, Peter Pahk, our entrEes were out of this world! Tender, juicy, and flavorful! For our wine we enjoyed an excellent Whitehall Lane Merlot and é an S. Anderson Cabernet.
For dessert, the gently baked Creme Brulee was delicious and proved to be the perfect ending to our meal.
Dinner was superb and highly recommended!
Quivira, located in Sonoma's beautiful Dry Creek Valley, produces luscious, estate-grown wines at their Healdsburg, CA winery. While enjoying the complimentary tastings of their variety of fine wines in the tasting room, be sure to enjoy the wonderful views of their vineyards and the Dry Creek Valley beyond, or picnic amongst the redwood and olive trees on the property.
Quivira's winemakers are dedicated to producing rich estate-grown wines from the many grape varieties available in the Dry Creek Valley. The wines that Quivira produces are made to be enjoyed upon release, which means you can enjoy their Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel or Dry Creek Cuvee as soon as you'd like!
A WineCountry.com staff member recently visited Quivira Estate Vineyards & Winery and found out first-hand what makes this winery so distinctive. Whether it's the production of their award-winning wines year after year, or the extremely helpful and friendly staff in the tasting room, Quivira is one winery you don't want to miss during your next visit to the Sonoma County Wine Country.
Visit Quivira Vineyards at 4900 W. Dry Creek Road
in Healdsburg, or online at:
Inn at Occidental
Ideally located between vineyards and coast in the town of Occidental, The Inn at Occidental is a destination that takes "unique" to a new level. Just a stone’s throw away from shops, fine dining, hiking, wine tasting, and hot-air ballooning, the inn offers sixteen rooms and suites, each an individual with collections of folk art that compliment the featherbeds, private baths, fireplaces, fine linens, and designer toiletries. Each room is named appropriately for the folk art statement within. The Safari Room features a collection of African drums and leather suitcases stacked as end tables while the Summer room has an assortment offlower frogs, crochet clothes hangers, and ladies’ shoe trees.
Admiring the intriguing and seemingly endless array of Folk Art is only the beginning. Settle into the evening with wine from small, limited production wine makers along with hors d’oeuvres, and wake up in the morning to breakfasts such as creamy soft polenta with fruit compote, by a professional chef. Whether spending some time at a local spa, bike riding, horseback riding, or just getting away from it all, let The Inn at Occidental's friendly and experienced staff guide you through your ideal stay.
Take a moment to visit The Inn at Occidental web site at www.innatoccidental.com or call 1-800-522-6324 for more information. The Inn At Occidental is located at 3657 Church Street, Occidental, CA 95465 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events for August
August 10 -- Art in the Gardens
August 17 -- Mendocino County Wine Boot
August 7 - 24 -- Music
in the Vineyards
August 11 -- Napa Valley Wine Library
August 10 -- Al Jarreau at Gainey Vineyard
August 17 -- Day in the Vineyard
at Zaca Mesa
August 9 -- MacArthur Park Winemaker's
Each Thursday Evening -- Terry Riversong
at Shadowbrook Restaurant
August 10 -- Blues & BBQ at Valley
of the Moon Winery
August 18 -- Dave Koz & Friends
at Rodney Strong
Win the "Vintner's Choice Wine Country Tour"!
Your tour begins mid-morning at the Napa Valley location of your choice and will take you and your guests to a day filled with world-class wines and the ever present beauty that defines the region. Sit back and relax while sipping complimentary champagne. Our knowledgeable chauffeurs/tour guides will take you and your guests to unique family-owned wineries and some of the unforgettable cornerstones of California Winemaking.
You may find a more intimate wine experience by visiting a small and more personal winery where the opportunity may present itself to talk with the winemaker and discover the secrets of their handcrafted products.
Investigate the winemaking practices and enjoy the handcrafted products of two different wineries located in the Rutherford Bench or the Stag’s Leap District where some of the most highly coveted Cabernet Sauvignon’s can be found. Unveil the rich traditions and winemaking techniques that go into every step in production from grape to glass. .
A unique barrel tasting at a world-renowned winery will help you to understand how a wine’s color, texture, taste and aroma are exemplified in the early stages of a wine's life and how those elements change throughout the years.
No visit to wine country is complete without a picnic alongside the vineyard. Select all your favorites from a gourmet deli and enjoy a bottle of the wine made by their family since the late 1800’s.
Tour includes: Includes 6 hour limousine tour
for up to 6 people, tasting fees at 4 wineries, wine country
picnic, and gratuity. (Valued at $900.00)
Arrangements made by California Wine Tours www.californiawinetours.com
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