Monday, October 26, 2009

Road Trip Part V - Napa Valley, Day 1

On the way over the hill to Napa Valley, we stopped at Pride Mountain Vineyard, where we had a very informative tasting and tour, highlighted by gorgeous valley views, our first barrel tasting of the trip, and, this being harvest, we even got to taste some freshly-picked grapes in their crates. The wines were excellent, so we bought 4 bottles.

We love going to V. Sattui for a picnic lunch every time we are in Napa Valley. It's a beautiful spot surrounded by trees and picnic tables, with a great selection of meats, cheeses and a hyperactive deli case. We bought 4 kinds of cheese (cheddar, aged gouda, a soft French cheese, and our favorite, a cream cheese spread with artichokes and garlic), salami, a baguette, roasted garlic, truffled mac and cheese and cheese ravioli with tomato sauce. A nice picnic for about $55.

After lunch, we visited Cult Wine Central, which houses dozens of small wineries that don't have their own tasting room. We tried 5 yummy wines and loved it so much we joined their club, and bought 6 bottles to take home. My husband had stopped counting our purchases already, but I couldn't resist!

After that, we made our way to the Wine Country Inn, where we checked into Room 20. Another big room with fine amenities; a huge bathroom with our second heated tile floor of the trip, a shower with his-and-hers shower nozzles (one tall, one short!), a jacuzzi tub overlooking a tranquil vineyard, a covered balcony, wood burning fireplace, king bed, and a Bose stereo. Service at this place was ok, but not great compared to the first two places. We felt that they were very busy, and possibly understaffed as a result.

At 5pm, we went to the main area of the inn for their wine and cheese social hour (well, really, it lasts two hours). Each day, a representative from a different winery comes and does a tasting for the guests. There is a selection of cheese and other homemade appetizers to choose from, and many guests use this as an opportunity to get to know other guests and compare notes on wineries and restaurants. We enjoyed visiting with new people at these nightly events.

For our first dinner in the Napa Valley, we went to Bottega, Michael Chiarello's new restaurant in Yountville. The food here was uniformly excellent. We had the polenta under glass (the best dish of the night), the hubby had the duck confit (flavorful, but a little dry) and I had the short ribs (the sauce was great), we shared the truffle fries, and had sorbet as dessert. We brought a 2001 Constant Cab from our collection back home, and it was a head-turner. The sommelier offered a decanter, and several staff and guests complimented our choice! We started wondering if we should've saved it for a more special occasion! It was a very fine, smooth wine that paired perfectly with the meal. Another highlight was when Chiarello himself came over to our table to check on us. We tried to avoid seeming star-struck! This dinner came to about $130, which included tip and the $20 corkage fee.

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