Feb 7, 2007

Mustard, grapes and rain

Wednesday February 7th

We awoke to a rainy day in Santa Rosa. After breakfast we headed over the mountain to the Napa Valley. Napa Valley is a very special place. I love the Central Coast area, but Napa will always be number one. We came down into one of our favorite towns, St. Helena. If I ever go missing you might want to look for me there.

It's early spring so the vines are bare, but the wild mustard is growing up between the vines. Even in the rain it is a beautiful place. The contrast of the orderly rows of vines with the curves and shapes of the hills and mountains make this a photographers dream. Oh, and by the way, they just happen to make a little wine here. If you were to go to four tastings a day, which is a lot and I don't recommend it, it would take months to go to all the wineries just in Napa Valley. Then there is Sonoma, Alexander, Russian River ....... the list goes on and on.

One of the first wineries we visited here years ago was V. Satui. We enjoyed our visit this time even more. Good, mid priced wines, nice people, and stuff we can't get in Michigan. We also visited Merryvale in St. Helena, which is beautiful but too expensive for our taste.

We then headed down the valley to Yountville looking for a nice but inexpensive place for lunch, but struck out and ended up down in Napa. We found a little Italian restaurant but lunch was an overpriced bowl of soup, a plate of calamari and a waitress with a “who cares” attitude. One of our pet peeves is restaurants that are overpriced and pretend to be more than they really are.

After lunch, we drove back up the valley and visited the small but upscale Andretti winery. Yes, it is partly owned by the famous race car driver Mario Andretti. This winery has a decidedly Italian influence and would be considered a boutique or cult winery. Almost all of their production is sold either at the tasting room or through their wine club. We enjoyed our visit there and signed up for their wine club as well.

We moved on up the valley on the Silverado Trail. It is amazing how many new wineries have been built here since our last visit. A favorite place of ours to stop is the Mumm Winery. They are known for Champagne style wines. I should say though that we don't go there for their champagnes. What is special to us is their photography gallery. They have an extensive Ansel Adams collection as well as other contemporary landscape photographers.

We then continued up the Silverado Trail to the town of Calistoga. Unfortunately, we have yet to spend much time here and I really want to come here sometime and get a mud bath. Then it was back up over the mountain and back into Santa Rosa.

After supper and a little writing, it was time for bed.