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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  damombo's trip report, part 2

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Author Topic:   damombo's trip report, part 2
damombo
Member
posted 10-18-2013 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Hi mshight,

We have also been visiting Napa Valley and Sonoma County for nearly 10 years. The first few years it was only once a year. (Lucky us, my husband had a conference in the Fall in San Francisco for a number of years). Somewhere along the way, it became twice a year. And there have been one or two years where I somehow finagled a third trip!

I've been participating on this board for 6 years and have gleaned a lot of helpful information - much of it from Hawkeye I shamelessly drop the "I know Lee from Tennessee" card when I go to many of these wineries - and amazingly, they always remember him!! And I have tried to rise to the "challenge" and find a few new places myself.

When you chat with people in the tasting rooms, or with the folks that pour the wine, or you sometimes encounter a wine maker, those are the times you find out about fun places to visit - the other people in tasting rooms are thrilled about someplace they just visited, or the hosts have a place that a friend works, or that they used to work. And winemakers are always happy to suggest someplace because it seems as though it is a really supportive and community-minded industry where most everyone knows each other!

As Hawkeye says, Life is Very Good...

PS - I feel your "credit card screaming" pain - I think ours melted on this trip.

IP: 162.193.136.185

Hawkeye
Member
posted 10-18-2013 06:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi mshight,

We have been going to Napa for several years, sometimes 3 or 4 times when our son lived in Sacramento. We have been fortunate to become friends and acquaintances with several owners and winemakers.

Your question, "How do you get to taste wine and have wine dinners in winemaker's homes"? One of the best ways is to come here on this Board and ask those of us who have been traveling there for several years. We are happy to give you information. We began by selecting some of the mom and pop wineries to visit and got referrals from there.

Before your next trip, ask on this Board, and tell us what you would like and we can make suggestions. As far as a winemaker dinner in a home, you need a group to accomplish that. Tastings are another story.

-Hawkeye

IP: 198.57.92.191

mshight
Junior Member
posted 10-17-2013 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mshight   Click Here to Email mshight     Edit/Delete Message
Great trip report! You and Hawkeye are lucky folks. How do you get to taste wine and have wine dinners in winemaker's homes? Sounds like you had some wonderful and unique experiences!

We have been receiving fall wine shipments about every other day -- it seems. My credit card is screaming. Got 6 bottles from Reverie today so I am definitely going to have to re-visit the number of wine clubs we remain members of. I do love to savor those special bottles of wine you can only get through the clubs but if I keep this up we'll never have money to visit Napa again!

IP: 75.191.217.226

Hawkeye
Member
posted 10-17-2013 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hey Damombo,

You do such good trip reports. Makes me want to pack my bag and head out.

I have notice all of the wine you are suppose to have coming. Mrs. Hawkeye and myself have been racking our brains trying to figure out someplace to go over Christmas. Looks like you need help with that wine so we will be there on December 23 for 6 nights. That should eliminate some bottles from your wine cellar. What time would be convenient for us to show up?

-Hawkeye

IP: 198.57.92.191

damombo
Member
posted 10-16-2013 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
On our third day, we started a little earlier. We had an 11:00 appointment at Nickel & Nickel. We have driven by this place for years and finally decided it was time to give it a try. Tasting fee was a little steep by our usual standard ($50/person waived with 6 bottle purchase), but this was our splurge for this trip. We were greeted with a taste of their Chardonnay, followed by an interesting tour with a knowledgeable guide.We were in a group of 8. The buildings on the property include a cool old barn from New Hampshire from the 1700s. The winemaker wandered by and we had a chance to chat with her. We tasted their wines in the converted basement of the old home that you see from Hwy 29 and the wines were excellent. They had all the wines (5) already poured so we were able to do some side by side comparison of the cabs. Some luscious wines, which they are quite proud of

From there we dashed up to Ladera on Howell Mountain. This time it was just the two of us and we sat outside, soaking up the beautiful day and enjoying their wines. Our host came outside to us with each wine and told us a little about each. Very relaxing and we enjoyed their wines.

Next, we drove about 3 minutes farther down the road to Neal Family. It was a nice stop, but the wines weren’t quite in our palate, so we moved on fairly quickly.

Our last stop was Hall St. Helena. We enjoy Hall wines, and have been to the Rutherford location, but hadn’t been to the St. Helena location (well, we did go to their Cabernet Cook-off in April, but that wasn’t in the tasting room). Anyway, we sat outside, with a fairly large crowd, and enjoyed the afternoon relaxing under their trees and wondering why people bring their ten year old kids with them... seriously, the kids are bored, but climbing on the art sculptures isn’t cool! But our server was able to get the parents attention and ask nicely that they take the kids off of the $20,000 piece of art (!), all while pouring us our next taste. Talented servers at Hall!

Our last morning in Napa was spent at Saddleback Cellars! How surprised was I to read mshight’s trip report and see that they had visited there!? We enjoyed this visit - nice folks and nice wines. Nils breezed through at some point (harvest time and all) and the fellow that poured for mshight was also there, still working on his wine Oh, and I’ve been pronouncing the name wrong - I’ve said Venge, as in revenge, but it’s Ven - gay.

One last stop was at Frog’s Leap. While it was a lovely tasting room/building/garden, we weren’t wowed by the wines.

So, to recap, hanging out in a winemaker’s home or yard is the best! Visiting smaller, family owned and run wineries is fabulous. Bigger, more expensive wineries are great if the staff is fun/interesting/attentive and the wine is pleasing to you. Places that don’t wow you, don’t bother to go back to. Cheers!

IP: 162.193.136.185

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