Wine Tasting in Napa

This past weekend, I went to Napa for the first time.  I have to tell you, every single moment of the trip was perfect. I’m so happy I lugged around my camera because I know that just once glance at these pictures will send me down memory lane for many years to come. Katie Jo, Marissa and I drove to meet Becky and Anna in San Jose on Friday night. Even though we spent 12+ hours in the car over three short days, we passed the hours loudly singing, sharing new music, and talking about everything and nothing — not a bad way to spend time with friends. We slept in on Saturday before heading to Napa. Becky’s roommate has a Tempur-pedic bed, and even though I swear by my pillow top, I slept like a log. We stopped downtown at Alexis Baking Company for a late lunch, where I had one of the best egg dishes I’ve ever tasted — corn tortillas topped with fried eggs, onions, pasilla peppers, pinto beans, ricotta salata and tomatillo sauce. It was perfectly spicy and savory. I’d like to try to recreate this for breakfast one day, but maybe I’ll just come back and enjoy the original again instead.

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After lunch, Marissa recommended hitting up Napa Valley Olive Oil. She had visited the original location last year on her honeymoon, and luckily the company recently opened a retail space downtown. I’ve only ever bought plain, original olive oil and balsamic vinegar before, but that’s because I’ve never been to a place like this one! We put wine tasting on hold and sampled dozens of oils and vinegars. I left with three and have used them every single night since getting home. It’s amazing how rich and flavorful these taste.

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Finally, we headed out to the first vineyard of the day, Artesa. The building was very modern — a big glass box built into the side of a hill. The views were incredible and the pours were big. It was a great place to start the day. We all opted for the fancier of the two tastings. The first wine we drank was way too sweet for me but they got better as we moved down the list. The final red fit my tastes exactly and was a good finish.

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Next, we headed just down the hill to Michael Mondavi, son of Robert Mondavi. This vineyard could not have been more different from the first. We drank our wine on a wraparound porch that overlooked the fields. It was very small and rustic, and the service was excellent. It was also almost empty — there was only one other group hanging outside with us — which made the experience feel even more intimate. Also, there were endless cheesy crackers to snack on, which of course didn’t hurt. Personally, I liked the wines a little more at Artesa (I love a rich, stone-fruit red) but the atmosphere at Michael Mondavi won, hands down. We bought a bottle of port to share at dinner — more on that in a minute.

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As the sun was setting, we drove two minutes down the road to Domaine Carneros for some champagne. Fittingly, this spot looked like a large French manor. We bought some chocolates (yes, one is flecked with gold leaf!) and settled down with a bottle of Brut Rose to wind down the day.

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It’s almost a blessing in disguise that all the vineyards close their tasting rooms by 5:30pm. We got a somewhat late start but it still felt like just enough time to be drinking…ahem, tasting. Becky suggested heading to Oxbow Public Market and picking up supplies for dinner. What goes better with wine than cheese I ask?! We picked out a few excellent ones, including a smoky truffle brie that was incredible.

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In a strong (girly) finish, we ended the night sipping our excellent port, eating gelato, and watching five back-to-back episodes of America’s Next Top Model: College Edition until we couldn’t keep our eyes open one minute longer. It was truly an epic day!

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