I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. I had an awesome holiday and an absolute shit-storm of a week to follow (see Week 18 + 1), hence this being just a bit belated. The good news is that rattling on and on about good food never gets old for me, so I’m perfectly happy sharing all of the delicious details re: my Thanksgiving over a week after the fact 🙂
To begin, everything is yummier at a balmy 65 F with the sound of the ocean in the background. (And no, I do not miss the cold and snow during the holidays one damn bit, they do not make it feel more festive and Thanksgiving/Christmasy, they just make it feel cold and snowy.)
Next, everything is yummier when it is prepared for you by a personal chef and his first mate…
To acquire the strength to get through this most strenuous day, we first made a batch of homemade mac-n-cheese for lunch. That’s exactly what one needs for lunch on Thanksgiving day, right?
Then it was on to the more serious tasks of the day…
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you negate 18 weeks of marathon training!
In addition to a most gluttonous Thursday, we took the next 3 days to do nothing but eat and drink our way through Napa Valley. (See above comment.)
We managed to hit 4 wineries on both Friday and Saturday and two on Sunday before heading home in our understated vehicle…
Laird is small, family owned and operated estate vineyard and winery. You get a very nice tasting for $20 and a list of recommendations that should be taken with a grain of salt.
2. Domaine Chandon
Domaine Chandon was an over-commercial, over-plastic, under-authentic, non-appreciated experience. We tasted 4 sparkling wines here for $20, all of which I could have done without. I would not suggest visiting if you are looking for good wine or interesting vineyard/winery experiences. I would however recommend stopping here to survey both employees and clientele for who NOT to trust with your next cosmetic surgery.
Turnbull is a medium-sized family owned and operated vineyard and winery. For $20 the tasting was great, one of the best of the weekend, and the self guided vineyard tour was a pleasant way to sober up before getting back behind the wheel.
(Just not now.)
Cosentino was a great way to end the first day of tasting. It’s a relative new (1980) but has quickly become regarded as a top winery in the valley. And for good reason. Again, they offer a very nice tasting for $20.
Mumm Winery was the first stop of day 2. We took the ~1 hr long tour and tasted 3 wines. The tour was very well done with the right amount of info and entertainment. It kept moving without feeling rusehd or lagging. Plus, we got our glasses refilled 3 times en route, which didn’t hurt I’m sure. Regardless, not half bad for $25 each.
6. V. Sattui
V. Sattui was great. We got to taste just about everything on the menu for our $20 tasting and had fantastic help. This is the one place that we ended up purchasing something, to be cracked open next time I’m in CA. Here’s to hoping it lasts that long!
To complement the fun tasting, there was a retail shop with a bunch of chocolates and cheeses to pair with the wine and a BBQ outside for lunch if you were hungary and around during that part of the day. We were and got a lamb sandwich + a margarita pizza. Both were super good.
7. Prager Port
Prager was maybe my #1 pick of the weekend. It’s a little tiny family owned and operated port winery. Now I love port, so this might be skewing my opinion just a titch, but they had really great Port.
AND, their back tasting room was covered in dollar bills from around the world. (This totally makes the wine that much better…even when you buy it to drink at home…) Of course we signed a dollar and hung it next to the Zimbabwe dollar so we could hang out with Master David and the Fresh Prince of Delaware for eternity in the port cellar. Or until we get stapled over…
Now the Cstello di Amorosa is very new and a bit over the top for me. It’s an (admittedly beautiful) replica Italian castle. But, it is a replica castle. In California. Maybe this objection makes me a bit of a Italian castle snob, but it just isn’t my deal. (And of course my deal is the right deal….right?) That being said, we took some really nice pictures and had a great time walking around the castle grounds…
The wine tasting was in a cellar tasting room and while the ambiance was great, thea assistance left something to be desired. We split 2 tastings and sampled all of the reds and all of the desert wines…none of which I can complain about.
After all of these adventures, we found some feathery and/or furry friends and gathered our strength for the drive back to Napa.
The Hess Vineyard, Winery and Art collection was a bit off the beaten trail and came to us upon the recommendation of Laird (one of their better suggestions). The grounds were beautiful, the 3 stories of modern art were super fun, the free personal vineyard (with 90 yr old vines!!) and winery tour that we went on was most informative and the wines we tasted (for $20) were delicious. This is another top hit of the weekend for me.
10. Domaine Carneros
Now for some reason I wasn’t nearly as offended by Domaine Carneros as I was by Domaine Chandon, but it had the same vibe — oversized, plastic and commercial. On the bright side here, we had a table to ourselves on a patio with a beautiful view on a beautiful day. The tasting menu was also sparking wines. The three that we tasted were definitely not my top wines of the weekend, but a hell of a step up from Domaine Chandon.
And with that it was back to Berkeley and then back to the reality of NJ and my F32.
It was a wonderful 5 days holiday regardless of what was waiting for me. For next time we have learned to scout out the small, less advertised and less traveled options. We will also have to incorporate sections of both Sonoma Valley and the Russian River Valley. There is so much wine tasting yet to be done!! 🙂