If I had to pick just one winery to have on a desert island, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better one than V Sattui. It’s not just because the wine is good (which it is). But at V Sattui they also have an Italian deli and market (including wood-fired pizzas), picnic grounds and other amenities. In fact, if I had V Sattui on my desert island, I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone for long.
We somehow failed to take any pictures of the exterior and picnic grounds, so please enjoy this picture of a deer instead:
We made it to V Sattui on our second day in Napa. We drove into the parking lot on our first day, and it was packed. We were at the end of our tasting day and didn’t feel like dealing with a crowd. We tried again the next day, and although the lot was packed again, we found rock-star parking which we took as a good omen. Continue reading “V Sattui Winery: Napa Valley – In Search of Snobs”
Once again, we’d gone into our trip without very much pre-planning. After all, with over 400 wineries in Napa, we figured we were sure to stumble onto something good even if we just went door to door until someone let us in and poured for us out of their liquor cabinet.
But I’m a hardcore planner at heart, and I couldn’t bear to go to Napa without a few sure things in my back pocket. I posted to Twitter asking for winery recommendations. To my surprise, my Twitter stream instantly filled (and my Klout score went up by eight points in 24 hours). Patricia_eddy, who had previously effused about Charbay on Twitter (read more about our Charbay visit here), recommended we visit Jessup Cellars.
In an area with something like 400 wineries, sometimes you choose by careful planning, research and recommendations. Other times, it’s “Look at this ad. Cool building! Hey, it’s nearby. Let’s go there!”
And thus we decided to visit Artesa. The ad we saw showed a starkly geometric window protruding from under a grass-covered hill, with an abstract sculpture out front. It looked interesting and different. Nikki adds: It looked like a spaceport from the best cerebral ’70s science fiction film that was never made.
Once upon a time we would have visited five wineries in a day, but after two we felt like our palates couldn’t fairly judge any more until they’d rested for a long time. We headed back to our hotel for a while, then decided to poke around downtown Napa in search of Clementine’s, a rumored-to-be fantastic Italian takeout joint in the back of Val’s liquor store. (Spoilers: delicious AND cheap! Best meal of the weekend! Don’t miss the malfatti!)
During our Napa explorations we saw a sign for Napa Valley Toffee Company. I love toffee, so when we saw the lights were still on despite the late hour (7pm) we were sure as heck going in there. To our surprise, they didn’t just do toffee; they also poured boutique wines! This is one of the great things about Napa; there seem to be a million friendly little places offering wines from multiple wineries. Needless to say, we immediately sat down for a taste. Continue reading “Napa Valley Toffee Company: Napa Valley – The Search for Snobs”
The trip up to Charbay took us on a lovely sunlit drive through St. Helena and up into the hills. The road got a bit twisty, but the occasional views through the trees were stunning. Since the penalty for missing a turn would have been severe (100-foot drop or more), Nikki got to enjoy the views more than I did.
Charbay offers tastings by appointment only. No, it isn’t a manifestation of the elusive snobbery we’d heard about in the area – it’s just that they’re off the beaten path and it’s not practical to have regular tasting room hours. It’s well worth the very small effort it takes to make a reservation. One tip: give yourself 10 minutes more than you think you’ll need to get there. While the drive is lovely, you’ll get to a fairly narrow winding road where caution compels a safer (lower) speed.
As part of our aforementioned fabulous LivingSocial deal (this is not a product placement! I swear! It was genuinely fabulous!), we received a free tasting at Silenus Vintners. We made an appointment for the earliest time we could, 10am. We got there about 15 minutes early, which gave us some time to poke around the grounds.
It’s been an entire year of tasting wine, and we didn’t go up to Napa until late December. Why? We’d been avoiding it.
Neither Mike nor I had ever been to Napa. But we’d heard all the stories. Napa people are snobby, the wine tasting rooms are snotty and mean, the food is way overpriced, the tastings are overpriced, and on and on. Everything we heard made us feel like Napa would be a place that was Not Us, and so we visited every other wine tasting region we could. Mike sez: Nikki and I are inherently “root for the underdog” types, and Napa is anything but when it comes to wine destinations.
At some point, however, we finally decided we had to see it for ourselves and find out how snobby it really was. Maybe it was the raves we heard about this winery or that one. Maybe it was the friendly Napa bloggers and Tweeters who asked us, “So when are you going to come up here?” Maybe it was because we wanted to see just how pretentious a wine area really could be. Continue reading “Napa Valley: In Search of Snobs”