This weekend, I went to visit my buddy Gordon who recently moved to Napa. Gordon works in the wine industry, so he planned a weekend of wine tasting and great food. In three days, I tasted more than 96 wines. (I say “more than,” because, although I took copious notes, there came a point Friday evening when my note taking skills became a little fuzzy. Ninety-six wines were documented, and I paced myself better on Saturday.)
For the meals, I tried Oysters at Bouchon the first night. We also ate at Bottega, Redd, Ad Hoc, and local burger hangout, Taylor’s Automatic Refresher. Every meal was incredible. If you get to Napa, don’t miss Bottega’s Wood Roasted Octopus or Shaved Brussels Sprout & Asparagus Salad. (And, before my brother Gregg makes a comment below, I weighed myself and actually dropped a pound over the weekend. Maybe all of the walking.)
Here is a list of the wineries we visited, and some highlights:
Grgich Hills – I really liked their Fume Blanc (2007).
Salvestrin – Very nice family-owned winery with a great Cabernet Sauvignon (2005).
Alpha Omega – Nice label and beautiful tasting facility, but wines didn’t blow me away.
Judd’s Hill – They’re doing some interesting stuff with social media, including online video.
Pine Ridge – Try the 2005 Cabernet Franc. Seriously.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards – They serve a little food with their tasting. Just a couple of small bites to compliment an incredible Cab from their Vandal Vineyard.
Plumpjack—Founded by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, they sampled some great wines, including the 2008 Cade Sauvignon Blanc.
Darioush – Housed in a Persian palace in Napa, don’t miss the “Fine Wines, Artisan Cheeses” tour to learn about and taste their great wine paired with the perfect cheeses (pictured below).
Z.D. – Their 2007 Rosa Lee Petit Sirah is worth the visit.
Trefethen – After tasting a strong Cab poured by Hailey Trefethen the night before at Cheers St. Helena, we visited her family’s winery to taste some more consistently delicious wines.
But, the highlight of wine tasting came at our very last stop, Elyse Winery. I liked many wines at each of our tastings, but Elyse was the only winery where I LOVED every single wine I tasted. We visited with Ray Coursen, winemaker and owner, a down to earth, fun guy who really, really knows how to make wine. They were all amazing, but the standouts for me were a 2007 L’Ingenue (Viogner) and the 2005 Jacob Franklin Cabernet Sauvignon. If you are anywhere that is pouring Elyse (or their other label Jacob Franklin), don’t hesitate ordering any of Ray’s wines. You won’t be disappointed.
So, that’s what I did on my summer vacation (or at least one of them). If you try any of these wines or visit any of the wineries, let me know what you think.