Napa wine tour

Back at the beginning of May (omg, I know, I’m so behind on blog posts), Nick’s mom and two of her friends came down to visit us! We had such an awesome time showing them around the Bay Area. We took them to many of our favorite places and a couple of new places as well – namely, to Napa! Nick and I hadn’t been up to Napa yet, despite visiting a few other wine areas (Sonoma, Livermore) several times.  Napa has a reputation for being a little snobbier and a little more expensive than the other regions (since they were the first big region and have a lot of big-name wineries), so we didn’t feel a huge draw to go by ourselves. But, we had gotten Nick’s mom a wine tour as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago, and so it was definitely time to cash in!

We hired a limo so that everyone could participate in wine “tasting” (aka drinking). We used Liberty Limousines based out of Campbell and were absolutely delighted with our driver Steve’s excellent service. I can’t say enough good things about Steve. If you ever need a limo service in the Bay Area call Steve!!

First things first...decide who is DD-ing
First things first…decide who is DD-ing
Mimosas on the drive up!
Mimosas on the drive up!
Welcome to Napa!
Welcome to Napa!

Our first stop was Robert Mondavi winery. Oh, by the way, I highly recommend visiting Napa on a Monday. Usually the crowds are pretty insane, lots of tour buses and limos and tourists. On this Monday in May it was very quiet and we saw almost no crowds and didn’t have to wait for tastings anywhere. The weather was also perfect, blue skies and hot but not too hot…which has nothing to do with it being a Monday and everything to do with it being California!

Fun fact about Robert Mondavi: in the late 60’s Sauvignon Blanc had a reputation for being a sweet wine, and dry Sauvignon Blanc was very unpopular in California. Mondavi created a variety of Sauvignon Blanc called “Fumé Blanc” which was dry and oak-aged, which then became very popular. Fumé Blanc is now an accepted synonym for Sauvignon Blanc in California.

In front of Mondavi winery.
In front of Mondavi winery.
Mondavi grounds, once through the main arch.
Mondavi grounds, once through the main arch.
Art inside Robert Mondavi.
Art inside Robert Mondavi.
The outdoor tasting area in back. As you can see we practically had the place to ourselves.
The outdoor tasting area in back. As you can see we practically had the place to ourselves.
Santé!
Santé!

Our next stop was a winery called V. Sattui. Wineries in Napa are not allowed to sell food or host private events, except very old wineries which have been grandfathered in…like V Sattui. V Sattui winery began in 1885, was shut down in 1920 due to prohibition, and then was re-started in 1976 by Vittori Sattui’s son, Dario Sattui. There is more fascinating history on their “About Us” page.

V Sattui stone tower
V Sattui stone tower
In front of V Sattui
In front of V Sattui
V Sattui picnic grounds...we had an amazing picnic with wine, cheese, meats, and spreads purchased from their store.
V Sattui picnic grounds…we had an amazing picnic with wine, cheese, meats, and spreads purchased from their store.

After lunch at V Sattui our next stop was Beringer. Beringer also had beautiful grounds and a lovely little wine shop. We all had just one glass here, and some water, since we still had a whole other winery to visit!

Three lovely ladies on the steps to Beringer
Three lovely ladies on the steps to Beringer
Aren't we cute??
Aren’t we cute??
Beringer tasting patio area
Beringer tasting patio area
Cheers to Beringer!
Cheers to Beringer!

Our final stop of the day in Napa was Castello di Amorosa, a full-on castle winery built by Dario Sattui (yes, of V Sattui winery that we visited earlier).

Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa

This castle winery was a pet project of Dario Sattui’s, and he had all of the stone and artwork either brought in from Europe, or he brought in master craftsmen from Europe to build the castle. We were scheduled for a tour and private tasting in the cellar.

Castle courtyard
Castle courtyard
Castle grounds
Castle grounds
The dining hall
The dining hall
On top of the castle
On top of the world

The castle and craftsmanship were just stunning – I was in awe, it truly seemed like a labour of love (and a lot of money).

Listening intently to the tour guide.
Listening intently to the tour guide.
Listening intently to the tour guide.
Listening intently to the tour guide.
The vineyards
The vineyards from the castle roof
Castle turret & some of the grounds
Castle turret & some of the grounds – and yes, a moat!

From the top of the castle we went waaaay down…to the dungeons, cellar, and torture chambers!

Picking a souvenir to take home
Picking a souvenir to take home

 

N&P in the cellars
N&P in the cellars
Mothers in Law are a key feature of the torture chamber (just kidding!!)
Mothers in Law are a key feature of the torture chamber (just kidding!!)
Nick's souvenir...apparently this was a true Iron Maiden used in the 1300s, and brought over from Italy by Dario Sattui.
Nick’s souvenir…apparently this was a true Iron Maiden used in the 1700s, and brought over from Italy by Dario Sattui.
Juxtaposition of new (shiny stainless steel wine tanks) and old.
Juxtaposition of new (shiny stainless steel wine tanks) and old.

Finally, it was on to the tasting in the cellars! Our final wine tasting for the day before the wonderful Steve poured us into the limo and drove us all safely home…

Wonder if this is an Ikea bar...
Wonder if this is an Ikea bar…
Prost!!
Prost!!
Our rating system for the wines we tasted...makes sense right??
Our rating system for the wines we tasted…makes sense right??
Chasing chickens on the castle grounds seemed like a fun activity to aid with wine digestion...
Chasing chickens on the castle grounds seemed like a fun activity to aid with wine digestion…
Ciao, Castello di Amorosa!
Ciao, Castello di Amorosa!
Safely in the limo and on our way home...very happy and very blurry!
Safely in the limo and on our way home…very happy and a little blurry!

 

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