We always love our Napa trips. Typically, however, we are there for two, three or maybe four days at a time. We feel compelled to explore and catch up with so many wineries and restaurants that we return with a full trunk of wine and a severe case of overload.
This trip was different. We had two weeks in the valley and scheduled a handful of appointments each day, with most days focused on a particular appellation or region to minimize driving. Sure we ended up with a number of additional, unplanned stops. That’s part of the joy of any Napa trip.
Still, we managed to restrain ourselves in a way that gave us time to savor the valley’s atmosphere and art, in addition to its wine and food.
Following are a series of posts that examine some of our favorite (and a few of our not so favorite) valley experiences, from our first day of deceleration, through our winery and restaurant experiences, to our stops at some of the valley’s premier art venues.
A Day of Deceleration
Our first day, which focused initially on the southeastern region of Carneros got off to a great start.
After a Sunday morning reading our papers and watching our news shows, we took a leisurely drive to Carneros and stopped for lunch at the always crowded, always wonderful Boonfly Café (roasted chicken flatbread, waygu cheeseburger with the fixings and hash browns). We then spent the early afternoon in some of our favorite Carneros wineries, savoring the Chards and especially the Pinots from Acacia, Nicholson Ranch and Bouchaine. Then to close out our afternoon, we hopped onto the Silverado Trail to our favorite winery (Chimney Rock) in our favorite Napa appellation (Stags Leap).
What could be more enjoyable way to end a day in Napa? Relaxing at Chimney Rock’s lovely, sunny courtyard, looking at the flowers and the vineyards climbing the hills while savoring tastes of some of the winery’s refreshing whites and especially its Cabs: a vertical (2006-2011) tasting of a number of its signature Stags Leap District Cabs and a number of its recently released vineyard designates, such as Ganymede, Alpine and especially Tomahawk. And of course it doesn’t hurt to be guided by knowledgeable tasting guides and to continually share notes with other wine club members and enthusiasts with whom we share a common passion.
But even a wonderful day of tastings must come to an end. We ended it in style; with a walk through the town of Napa to another of our favorite Napa restaurants. On our first visit to Oenotri, it was a modest storefront restaurant where we snacked on its wonderful charcuterie and pizza. The restaurant has since expanded to perhaps five times its original size and now includes al fresco options, including sidewalk tables on First Street and a lovely courtyard. The Northern Italian menu has also expanded to include a range of antipasti, secondis and of course, pastas. After a snack of the rather fried Cavolo Nero (kale) with very hot pepper and parmigano, we settled into two secondis: the wild king salmon was wonderful—especially due to its incredibly fresh sweet corn polenta accompaniment. While the pancetta-wrapped rabbit was somewhat less satisfying, the salmon, the courtyard atmosphere, the knowledgeable service and the bottle of Montepulciano Vino Nobile more than made up for any lapses on the rabbit.