Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Day Trip to Napa

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Yesterday my dad and I headed out of San Francisco for a day trip to Napa.  To get ready, I read Wine for Dummies and got recommendations from friends and families on vineyards to visit.  To make it a safe and enjoyable day, we hired a driver, Barry, who had high reviews on yelp and was very knowlegeable, affordable, and timely.  In case you are looking for a recommendation, here is his website:  We made it to 4 vineyards and stopped for a picnic lunch at Oakville Grocery.  
December is an interesting time to go to the wine country because the grapes have already been harvested and the vines are pretty empty. 
As a result, the crowds are pretty slim and the weather is a little cool.  There are some advantages to going this time of year.  At all of the vineyards we received special treatment.  The pourers had extra time to discuss our palettes and preferences and give suggestions and extra tastings.  It was really special. 
Our first stop was Cakebread Cellars.  We did the regular tasting which included Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Reserve Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Syrah.  Our pourer, Brian, also added in a special 2011 Zinfindel.  This was definitely the most intimate setting for a tasting.  We tasted at a station set up for only 4 people in one of the wine production and storage rooms. 
As a result, we got to hear not only about the wine but the history and politics of Napa. Incidentally, the other couple at our station hailed from the DC area.  Of the wines we tasted, all 4 of us enjoyed the Syrah and the Zinfindel the most. 

Our second stop was Paraduxx.  This was my favorite vinyard and best wines in my opinion.  Our pourer took time to explain the different growing regions of the grapes and helped us understand how that affected the taste of the wine. She also brought out various vintages to show us how aging certain wines makes a difference. 
Paraduxx was a really insightful and fun experience.  We tasted about 8-9 wines there and both of our favorite was the Z Blend, which is a blend of mostly Zinfindel, some Cabernet, and a splash of Merlot. 
Our third vinyard was unplanned.  As we were driving down Route 29 in Napa we passed Sequoia Grove. My dad yelled out in excitement and we did a quick u-turn.  Excellent decision.  
At Sequoia Grove we tried a bevy of delicious wines.  We really went there for the Cabernet Sauvignon that my dad drinks, but were surprised to like their 2009 Merlot and the Rebellious Red.  This was, interestingly, the only Merlot I enjoyed all day. 

Our final stop was Frogs Leap Vinyard. By this point our taste buds were pretty shot, but we couldn't have been in a prettier setting. The wine was served in an old house with wraparound porches and situated in the middle of a vinyard. 
At Frogs Leap we did the regular tasting, but got to try at least one additional reserve wine.  Although we were tired at this point, the wines were delicious and the setting was pleasant. It was the perfect end to our Napa day. 
Off now to enjoy our last day in San Francisco.  Headed off to check out the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building! 


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