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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  Trip Report

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Author Topic:   Trip Report
posted 08-26-2012 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Bigsemi,

Thanks for the great trip report. Sacramento is our airport of choice, also. I have not checked SFO to see if flights are cheaper into there, but I would not fight that traffic for a few dollars.

I wish I could generate the enthusiasm you have for V. Sattui. We visited there early in our wine tasting life and found it too busy for us with not a lot of personal attention. However, they do have the best deli around.

Have to agree with you on White Hall. I believe that Milat is in the same area and not worth the trip either. Also have to agree with you on O'Brien. I believe that everyone will have to agree, they do have an outstanding marketing campaign.

I wish I could generate the enthusiasm for Sonoma that Yesilovewine has, but just can't. Maybe it is because I am basically a cab drinker with some zin thrown in. Therefore, if you get much below Healdsburg, I am not interested.

Really appreciate the time you took to give us your trip report. Thanks.



posted 08-25-2012 09:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bigsemi   Click Here to Email bigsemi     Edit/Delete Message
We arrived Friday morning on July 27th. In and out of Sacramento airport with our rental car. Sacramento has definitely become my airport of choice flying out to Napa.

We had to make a quick stop at target to grab some gift wrappings. On the way out of the store it was like walking into heaven instead of a blast furnace. The heat of Texas was left far behind and the cool breeze of 70 degree weather was a great change.

First stop was V. Sattui to see our good friend Claudette to drop off said presents, and she had several 2 for 1 tasting cards for us to use as well, which came in very handy. We ate a quick lunch at Sattui, enjoying the picnic area and sitting with a couple and their dog discussing the merits of getting dogs from rescues or strays.

First winery on Friday was Arger Martucci. It was actually right across the street from Sattui, so it made for a short trip. We shared a tasting (Fee waived with wine purchase). They have tasting areas inside and out, we tasted outside by the pool. They had a white blend, red blend, syrah, petite syrah, and a cab. We thought everything was pretty good, and ended up taking a Petite Syrah home.

We then headed to White Hall. Had a 2 for 1. Not super impressed with anything other than the dessert wine which was pretty good and a cheap, we took one home, and that waived the tasting fee. The Chard was very offensive, both on the nose and pallet. The guy pouring even said that the sulfur sometimes comes out. Not sure why you pour wine you know is bad, but what ever. I'm sure there is someone out there that might like a funky chard, we are not those people.

One last stop for the day was Rutherford Grove, another 2 for 1. We liked this place a lot. Good wine, good stories. We took home a Sangiovese and Zin, their Reserve Merlot was good as well, would have gotten one if it had been in the $40-50 range, $70 was a bit too much.

That evening we headed to the Castle for their Hot Havana Nights party. The Castle looked great, the food was awesome, great band, and several local cigar shops were there selling cigars. We ended up hanging out with the V. Sattui President and a bunch of his family, and several other Sattui/Castle members whom we've gotten to be good friends with and partied the night away, drinking wine, home made Orange and lemoncello, grappa cherries, and smoking good cigars. It was an awesome night just hanging out, talking and enjoying a few beverages with good friends!

We returned to the house we were renting in St. Helena and crashed for the evening.

Saturday I got up to go get breakfast from Palisades Deli in Calistoga, breakfast burritos and mexican mochas! And I hit the farmers market and grabbed a few veggies for dinner the next couple days. After we headed out to the Outlets so the wife could buy a pair of shoes for the party at V. Sattui that night. We ran a couple other random errands, and headed back to the house for a nap before the Festa Italiana at V. Sattui. That night we headed to V. Sattui for the party. It really is a big bbq under the oaks with awesome Italian food. We sat with friends, enjoyed great food and wine, danced a little and just enjoyed the evening.

Sunday we got up and headed out to the first of 3 tastings that day at Bell winery. We did the Grape to glass tour and tasting. Decent tour, but the tasting was quite good. We really enjoyed the wines and decided to join the club! We also purchased 1995 Clone 6 Amorone. It was pricey, but we thought it would be something cool to open up at lunch on that Tuesday with the Crew at Sattui at our lunch with the winery Pres, Wine Maker, Assistant wine maker, and Vineyard Manager (unfortunately it ended up being a bust, and way past its prime). Many great wines, especially the Cabs and sparkler, and some cool info on cab clones used in the valley.

From there we went to Domain Carneros. What an awesome tasting. Between the two of us we tried all 6 of their sparklers and one pinot. We sat out on their huge terrace enjoying the view of the southern valley sipping great sparkling wine, and snacking on meat and cheese. We took home a couple of their sparklers, and will definitely be back.

From there we headed over to O'brien. It is rated through the roof on tripadvisor.com and a buddy of my said they had a great time and loved the wine, so we gave it a shot. We were disappointed. The tour was marginal at best. The young man leading it I'm sure meant well. He was going to school for viticulture and had had several trainings abroad, but then he opened the can of worms, by saying he was the guy to ask if we had technical questions about wine and the winery, well we asked, and we got a lot of "uhhhh", and "I don't know" from him. Kind of put a bit of damper on the tour for us. The wines the past couple years had gotten great scores from Parker, but all I tasted was big fat flabby wine. Kind of like drinking a bottle of jam. Obviously there are people out there that love this place, and some of you might enjoy their wines too, and maybe I don't know what the hell good wine tastes like, but I could not for the life of me figure out what all the fuss was about. Oh well, you win some and lose some.

Dinner that night was at the house, a little home made spaghetti.

Monday was kind of a lazy day. Spent a good portion wandering around Yountville, we checked out the many shops and just kind of took it easy. Nothing really exciting, just a relaxing vacation day!

Tuesday we headed out to use a 2 for 1 at Mumm, but there was a private event going on, so we doubled back and got coffee at cafe in down town St. Helena, then head over to V. Sattui for our lunch with the brain trust of the winery. Just as last year it was the highlight of our trip (other than the wine we brought stinking up the joint). Lots of great conversation, food, and V. Sattui wine!

From there we headed to Ravenswood, I always wanted to taste there, since it was one of my first zins that I loved early in my wine drinking education/journey. We tried a bunch of stuff you can't buy in stores, but nothing really stood out. So it was off to Sonoma Square. There was supposed to be a big "party" in the square and the famer's market, so we wandered around, checked out the shops, ate some cheese, checked out the farmer's offerings and then headed back to Napa. The party was not really what we were thinking it was going to be.

The trip back over to Napa was quite an adventure, instead of just taking 12 back over to Hwy 29, we decided to use one of the cross roads, I believe it was the Trinity cross road. Well needless to say it was a crazy drive up and over the mountain on a narrow, tight winding road. I could not believe there were school bus stops along the way, and an older couple had managed to get there huge A class motor home half way up, not sure how they made it down, some of those turns were harry in our little ford focus, I have no idea how a bus sized vehicle made some of those turns, for all I know, they just put it in park and live up there now. On the way down we got some great views of Oakville. Fun once, but I don't think we'll be doing that again, and again Sonoma just did not do anything for us. I know we really did not get up to the Russian River and Healdsburg area, and we really need to, since my wife loves PN, one of these trips we will.

Wed. we got one last breakfast at Palisades Deli and headed to Sacramento to fly back to the furnace of DFW. Another great relaxing trip, can't wait til the end of Oct. when we head back out!


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