All of you who know me, know I am “into” wine. Napa is one of the wine (and food!) capitals of the world. It is definitely a place to go when you are in the Bay area of CA.
I was meeting a girlfriend who I hadn’t seen in awhile from my old MCI days. We met for lunch in Yountville, which is about in the middle of the Napa Valley, which is really a “county” comprised of a bunch of towns. The main ones (from south to north on Route 29) being Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. There are about 300 wineries and the land is composed of
beautiful rolling hills blanketed with the verdant green of the vines, with higher foothills surrounding the entire Napa Valley. It’s like a picture postcard. The weather was a comfortable 75 and sunny. Yountville is one of the more upscale towns with many nice restaurants. Among the most famous, is the French Laundry, which is one of THE top restaurants in the entire country (actually was voted “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2003 and 2004). I hear there is a two year waiting list. It is hard to find, as the building is unpretentious.
Also in this small town, is Redd, where Kathy, my brother and I dined when Kathy and I visited about 2.5 years ago. It was a wonderful meal with wine parings with each course. Our ultimate treat for dining on the trip! My friend Elaine and I ate at Lucy’s for lunch, and had a delightful light meal sitting out on the patio. Very pleasant and also very upscale. (The bathroom had the ultimate fancy toilet! Very posh: the seat cover lifted when you opened the door and there were controls to warm the seat, use a bidet feature, dry your behind, etc. etc….) The prices reflected the atmosphere, so it was really nice that Elaine treated for our meal.
There have been many changes to the Napa area in recent years. Tastings used to be free, or at least fairly inexpensive and you could apply the charge to any bottles of wine that you bought.
Now tastings are anywhere from $15 to $60! And some places you only got 3 or 4 inexpensive pours.
We went to Cakebread, where the people were very nice and it was $15 for 6 tastes (3 whites/3 reds – from bottles mostly in the $50-$60 range). Plus you get to keep the really nice wineglass they give you to taste your wine. Eric, our “host”, was knowledgeable and nice. It was a beautiful atmosphere there, as are many of the vineyards.
Napa Valley in general: really has become quite expensive. Was not that crowded (people can’t afford the expense?) and a number of the storefronts in town were empty. Not good. Sonoma, with its more low key, more rural/down to earth feel, appeals to me more. We go there on Tues. (We were supposed to go there last Tuesday, but went into San Fran. instead last Tues. to get Euros for our trip due to the BART strike being postponed for the week.)
One other thought about the vines in Napa Valley: displayed below is a picture. Note that the soil is just dirt.
Here is a picture that we took of the vines when we were in Provence France last fall. Note that the ground is made up of stones. Drainage is very important and it’s interesting how different the topographies are and yet both areas produce some of the best grapes/wines in the world.]
Aside from our trip to Napa, the days roll by. Working out in the morning and computer work, chores, relaxing in the afternoon. Still getting used to the time versus money versus “it’s not a vacation” adjustment and trying to entertain ourselves without spending too much money. We seem to be focused a lot on this issue, but guess we’re just still adapting, so it’s to be expected.
Sunday we meet some other “old friends” in the city for a day of walking the neighborhoods (very doable in San Francisco, as it is really very small geographically), catching up and reconnecting.
Sure there will be a lot of laughs, and reminiscing.
Thanks to all who have been keeping in touch.