“Well, when you’re tired, you take a napa”
Our destination for today was the famous winemaking region of Napa valley. Those of you who watched Sex and the City back in the day also know that Napa is where Mr. Big moved to. An exasperated Carrie, trying to understand how her big-shot on-and-off lover could have gotten tired of living in New York City, exclaimed, “Well, when you’re tired, you take a napa, you don’t move to Napa!”
Not knowing a thing about Napa and its wineries, I quickly googled “best wineries in Napa” yesterday and stumbled upon a list of 5 on Yelp. I combined that with a recommendation from my friend Monika, mapped it all out last night and printed it in the hotel lobby this morning, feeling very prepared to tackle the valley. Well, lo’ and behold, the first winery we went to, Jarvis, was appointment only. Ooops. We figured this might be the case with the rest of the wineries on our list, so we googled “Napa tourist info” instead and headed there in search for information. This took us to downtown Napa, where a very helpful lady armed us with maps and recommendations. Two wineries out, several others in and a coffee shop stop mapped out, we were ready to head back out.
Our first stop was Oakville Grocery, right on the main drag in-between Napa and the next little town over, St. Helena. We grabbed some coffee there and enjoyed the patio while reviewing all the maps we had just gotten and discussing our plan of attack.
Just up the road was V. Sattui, one of the oldest wineries in the region and a winner of “best winery of the year” 7 times in the past decade. It was a bit crowded, even on a Friday, but it had a huge tasting room and its own deli to boot. In addition, the grounds were beautiful, and many people were picnicking. Mom was still not sure about this wine-tasting business – she was appalled that you only get a few sips of a few different varieties of wine, and kind of didn’t see the point of the whole thing. But once we experienced the tasting at V. Sattui, she was on board. We got to pick 6 wines out of a giant list of perhaps 20 or so, and she was very much delighted with 2 of the reds we tried. What didn’t seem like a lot of wine when I explained it, now seemed like a lot when you get to basically chug it in 10 min or less, so she was actually happy that we only got a few sips of each. 🙂
Our next stop was Silverado winery, where we simply admired the gorgeous views of the valley below and marveled at a tableful of empty wine glasses – there must have been about 3 dozen of them. It was either a big group, or a fabulous time, or both.
Next up was Clos du Val, where we also skipped the wine in favor for the marvelous grounds. This one had a few cabanas right by the vineyards, and they were all either already taken or reserved for later. A fountain and a few colorful red chairs provided some great photo ops, so we snapped some pictures and on to the next one we went.
The other 3 wineries we visited were all in the Los Carneros region of the valley, just south of downtown Napa. We had our second tasting at Etude, which was a fairly new winery – about 30 years old. The inside was quite modern and it somehow took away from the wine experience. These guys just didn’t have the same credibility as V. Sattui; at their winery, we stared at pictures of Sattuis making wine deliveries on horse-drawn carriages in like 1903. Add to the fact that their wine wasn’t actually that great, and the patio was for wine members or people with appointments only, and we were eager to go on.
Artesa winery was recommended by the lady at the visitor center and she said it was voted the most beautiful one in the valley. When we got there, we saw why. The entrance was simply grandiose, with two water features leading up to the winery itself, which seemed like it was carved into the hill. The inside of Artesa was super modern and spacious – it almost reminded me of a modern version of the Getty Villa, with its Greek-like white columns framing a square pond in the courtyard in the middle of the building.
Our final stop was Domaine Carneros, which was another breath-taking winery. Situated just across from Artesa, we realized we’d seen it already from Artesa. This one had another marvelous patio overlooking the vineyard and the valley below. We perused the gift shop and we stumbled upon a book of the most notable wineries in Napa. We leafed through it to see if we’d picked well today, and were delighted to find two of the wineries we’d visited in that book. But there was also another winery that may have well been in a wine-making region in France – it was a CASTLE!!!! There was a castle in Napa and we hadn’t visited it???? Such an oversight would not happen on our watch, and so Castello Di Amoroso is going to be our first stop tomorrow. I mean, we have to, right?
I am so happy that our day in Napa turned out so great – the dicey start had me worried for a while! But now, with a belly full of Napa wine, I am tired. And it’s time to take a napa.