2013 – California Dreaming (part 2)

When I wrote last, we had just completed our hot air balloon ride.

After a great breakfast with champagne & mimosa’s (apparently a ballooning tradition), we headed on into the valley to explore on our own. I can’t thank Gabe at Napa Valley Balloons enough for great recommendations on a couple of things not to miss on our trip.

We began at V Sattui Winery. This winery was recommended by several people and it certainly lived up to its reputation. A reputation earned by over 125 years in the wine business in San Francisco. We were early as wine tours go, but we found our way to the tasting room after exploring the grounds on our own. We shared a tasting and our wine steward treated the girls to a non-alcoholic grape juice and us to quite a variety of wines. We entered the place as Napa rookies and left with the receipts and shipping info of a veteran. Come by the house in 7-10 business days and try a glass of Pinot Noir.

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From there we headed north to Calistoga, CA and the Castello Di Amorosa Winery. Who knew that there is a 12th century Tuscan style castle in Napa Valley? Well, there is. Apparently, the grandson of V Sattui made it his life’s work to create this replica. This “labor of love” resulted in the “castle of love” or Castello Di Amorosa. This place was absolutely incredible! The castle has everything that a castle is supposed to have including a draw bridge, towers, a great hall, a moat, and even a dungeon and torture chamber. But it also has an impressive wine making operation and underground storage for aging the wine. The tour included a lot of info about the castle and the wine, and was capped off by a tasting in a private room in the wine cellar. The castle was one of the highlights of the trip so far.

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We headed back down the valley and decided to swing back into V Sattui for some lunch. It was Saturday and they were busy, but we managed to find a nice variety of meat, cheese, and bread and improvised a picnic on the grounds.

We then headed south on the Silverado Trail for a little different perspective and a planned stop at Rutherford Hill Winery. We had two reasons to stop here. First, many years ago we discovered a merlot from this winery that we really liked and bought a case. Second, Gabe told us of the view from the hillside where the winery is located. The view was awesome and made me wish that our balloon had flown in Napa earlier in the day.

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A long drive back to the city capped off the day where we called it an early night given that we have been up at 3:00am two mornings in a row.

Tomorrow, we start our drive south along the coast.

Here’s the link to the Flickr set for photos, so stay tuned.

Cheers,
Jay

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