“You Don’t Move to Napa”
[Napa, CA, Apr 20, 2019]
My first and only trip to Napa was in 2013 when I visited the region with my parents. They had come to LA so see me graduate with my MBA, after which we spent about a week traveling through California. I had named that blog entry after the scene in Sex and the City where Carrie, amazed that anyone would leave New York City, exclaims, “Well, when you’re tired, you take a napa, you don’t move to Napa!” I used the first part of her words for that blog entry, and now it’s time to use the second. 🙂
After the long drive yesterday, we slept in, then went to the lobby restaurant to grab some breakfast. Our food took longer than it should have. The staff, upon realizing this and also figuring out we were here to celebrate B’s birthday, got us started with some mimosas and a great chocolate croissant.
I started my research by simply reading that old Napa blog entry to remind myself which wineries we had visited back then. I remembered Clos du Val for its beautiful grounds and I decided to check out their website. I saw that they could do a picnic lunch with a bottle of wine in their olive grove, and I figured that would be the perfect way to start our day. We weren’t disappointed! We arrived at 11:30, which was our reservation time. I almost didn’t recognize the winery, as they had recently finished a brand new tasting room and patio with a water feature!
We were one of only two parties in the olive grove. The lunch included two sandwiches and two giant chocolate cookies from Bouchon bakery, some oranges, water, chips and, of course, a bottle of Clos du Val wine. The temperature was perfect and we stayed in the olive grove for nearly three hours chatting, munching, and drinking.
There were still a couple of hours of wine-tasting time left by the time we were finished – most wineries close at 5 pm and we were done around 2:30 pm. It was warm, so we put the top down on the Mustang and enjoyed driving from one winery to another.
First, we headed to Castello di Amoroso, which B had heard about from a friend. I visited it in 2013 and we were able to walk around the castle and take photos without having to do a wine tasting. This time, the place was packed with people, and they wouldn’t let you inside unless you did a wine tasting. We took a few photos outside and promptly left.
Domaine Chandon’s winery was our next stop. It was also busy but things were winding down at this late hour, so we enjoyed a quick wine tasting at the bar. The grounds were nice with lots of room for picnicking, but it seemed that most areas were reserved for club members.
To finish things off, I took B to Artesa, which I had also visited in 2013. I really loved the sculptures, the water features and the views right outside. It was just as windy this time as it was 6 years ago, it seemed!
Artesa had also restricted some areas for club members only. I wondered if this was a way for the more popular wineries to control crowds and make the experience less burdensome for club members. I get it, but it also makes it harder for visitors to enjoy themselves. B had fun chatting with the guy who poured the wine, who told us about his career in the tech industry. He enjoys pouring wine a lot more.
Dinner was conveniently located just one block from our hotel in downtown Napa. The idea to go to Charlie Palmer’s Napa restaurant, Steak, came about last year when B took me to New York for my birthday. We had gone to Charlie Palmer’s Aureole there. When I found out he also has an outpost in Napa centered around steak, I thought it would be the perfect way to return the favor. B had the steak, of course, while I opted for the rabbit pasta. Everything was delicious! I think the birthday boy was happy with how we celebrated.