Thursday, July 23, 2009

Napa Vacation - Day 2B

Last I left you, we were headed towards Cuvaison for a private appointment tasting. They had another group coming in an hour, so we would have to rush our tasting. Everyone had their individual tasting and we sat in the very open and airy Carneros tasting room. Had we not had a story, the experience would've been very different. I really wanted to learn more about their sustainable winegrowing practices, but as it was, I sat their doing my best to pretend I was Oprah-rich. Unfortunately, even if I were Oprah-rich, I doubt I'd be a snob. I would walk in like Paula Deen, welcoming everyone regardless of their place.

As the story went, no one could speak, except for Simon. No one was to address Mr. Sias directly, all questions/comments went to Simon, then on to Mr. Sias. That is, except Contessa Bianca. It was VERY difficult to keep everyone quiet and not snickering when our hostess would leave the room. My "brother" and his wife did an excellent job and playing like they didn't understand any bit of English. I grew quickly bored of the scheme and went out to capture the beauty of the place.
Lush, lush fields of grapes, snaking along the hills in a symmetrical pattern. Everything was so colorful and vibrant, it was hard to believe it was real. The air was so clean and refreshing. I didn't know how much of a change of pace I needed until I was situated in this very spot. It was so quiet and for a long, long, long time, I was COMPLETELY and totally alone, consumed with just my thoughts and the occasional CLICK-CLICK-CLICK of my camera.

I was about to feel bad about our little trick when I realized that she didn't at all take into consideration my suggestion about there not being any paper towels in their uber-modern bathrooms. Not even a cloth handtowel! Yikes. I also learned that she overcharged us for our tastings, and then when we corrected her, she "refunded" the money, and ran the proper amount. Only, she didn't refund the money, she charged that original amount AGAIN, as well as the correct rate. Unfortunately, we didn't discover that until after we'd returned back to the hotel.

Next stop, Domaine Carneros. This was another sparkling wine place and I was completely unimpressed with the taste. I was, however, impressed with their spacious, mediterranean villa style property. Lavish was an understatement. This place was Michael Jackson over-the-top. With the old ornate details, ridiculous steps to the top, and the over all decor. However, the staff was extremely friendly and their views of the valley were captivating. In the distance there were these fake sheep. I HAD to have a photo of them and I must point out the little black sheep too. I like this photo not because it has the sheep, but also because the the palm tree and pond. It is like a perfect oasis amid of vast sea of vineyards.
Just before heading up, I guess I was also a bit peeved they they wouldn't let us lunch on their patio. I later discovered it was because they also served food, but still. We eventually had our picnic at the bottom of the steps and it was still delicious. Loved the jalapeno cheese and I tasted blue cheese filled olives for the first time. They were pretty good. Oh, and it here that I first discovered Napa Valley Soap. A friend of mine had told me about it and upon sight, I was giddy at the connection with back home. I enjoyed the smell of the citrus pomegranate scent I chose. I didn't see it again and there's a tiny bit of me kicking myself that I didn't buy it. Lucky for me, though, Don surprised me with one of their soap bars. It smells delightful!

Afterwards, we hit up Trefethen. These wines were delicious. I very much enjoyed this chair they had inside. It was like your grandmother's arms, embracing every bit of you comfortably and wholly. They had this courtyard that had taken a page right out of the secret garden. It was full of lemon, lime, and orange trees, lots of flowers, and of course a big tree with a vine-like tree enwraptured on the outside of the big tree, like they were doing a newlywed dance. This spot allowed for different bits of sunlight to peek through the leaves and formed these awesome shade patterns on the ground. Again, I was alone for a bit, playing with my camera and I even paused for a self-portrait. I went back inside to wash my hands when I had a Lucille Bond moment. There were all of these bubbles in the sink and I couldn't get them to go away. The sink kept filling and filling up. I started scooping them into the trash can after I turned off the water. When they had faded about halfway, I gave up and walked out.
We then headed back to the main road and made a quick stop at Sutter Home. Their tasting room was similar to all of the other rooms we'd been to with one exception. All of their ceiling fans revolved on the one moter. They were connected with a series of conveyor belts that turned each fan simulataneously. It wasn't like witnessing an amazing 4th of July fireworks show, but it was still pretty cool. Much better than a plain card trick, that's for sure. Here is where I was able to pick up 4 fairly decent bottles of wine for my mom on her budget. They don't carry this variety in the store and they were going to make great gifts for her friends.
Next on the agenda, we hit up Hall just before dinner. We were their last tasting of the day and we'd made it just before they closed. This was a neat visit, because Stacy's maiden name is Hall and she was able to get some gifts for her family here, with their last name all over it. Pretty cool! Just a few people took part in the tasting. The rest of us were starting to feel a bit wiped out and sun-shocked.

We loaded up the car and went across the street to V. Sattui. I wasn't expecting us to do a tasting here. Ithought we were done for the day, but since they were open, we squeezed in another. I browsed their market area, salivating over the pastries and deli delights. I bought a couple of eclairs, some carrot cake, and roasted garlic. I was going to snap some quick photos, then sit and enjoy them while the group finished up. Well, I ended up being mesmerized by all that was going on that I spent more time taking photos then I did eating my food (which I didn't eat until the end of the next day and it wasn't so great by then). There were quite a few people visiting, but it wasn't too much out of my comfort zone. I liked how then had picnic tables sprinkled throughout their property and it didn't seem like they were short of a resting spot for anyone who wanted it. I was told the wines were pretty good, and I was hoping my eclair was delicious. Brother, I actually found a shot glass here, so I got it for you. :)
I love how they made use of everything. Old wine barrels were turned into chairs and tables. They also had places for recycling. I especially appreciated this because they generated their own trash by having a market available for the picnic crowd. This not only kept their grounds clean, but was good for the environment. I wish I would've gotten pics of the cases and cases of empty wine bottles. I did get pictures of a whole lot of other things, including this adorable couple celebrating our birthday. This is one of my most favorite pics that I took of them.
Of course, there has to be farming equipment in a winery. I couldn't help but love that bright yellow tractor a few steps away from me. It smiled at me as I took the photo. Isn't it fun how all of the colors in this photo get along?
We finally headed on over to dinner. We made a last minute decision on the drive over as to what we were going to have: Italian. YUM! To say this place was delicious is a generic statement kinda like saying that the pope wears red shoes. Duh! This was a meal that I'd been wanting all day long. No, I must say, this is the kind of pasta that I've been wanting to eat in months, since the last time I'd gone to eat at Mi Piaci. I crave that kind of fresh, homemade pasta so much that if I had to eat it everyday for a year, I'd be the first to sign up for it and ask if I had to eat it for another 5 years too because it was that good. I'd first tasted pasta that scrumptious back when I happened upon it in Rome. SQUISITO! So where did we go for our meal? Bistro Don Giovanni. The pizza I had was ok. Nothing to brag home about. It was filling and good, but I wanted more. When I tasted bits of everyone else's dish, I ordered fettucine with red sauce to go. I was going to be a piggy later on in the hotel room and gobble it up (indeed I did, sharing an itty, bitty bite with my beloved. Sorry it wasn't more, babe! I was being selfish and gluttonous.) THEN, as if that wasn't just simply amazing, we enjoyed this dessert bostini trifle that has me inisisting to Primo that he learn this immediately!! I'd lost all sense of politeness with this dish. I dug my fingers deep into the glass, caramel halfway up my arm, covering my wrist, chocolate coloring my knuckles. I'm certain it was all over my face, kinda like when Mari eats chocolate. OMG...It was like I took a bath in that dessert. To top it all off, it was a community dessert and some how I was lucky enough to be the one who got to "lick the bowl." HAPPY DANCE!

"BOSTINI" TRIFLE
Vanilla Custard, Chocolate Cake
Clear Caramel, Toasted Almonds
Whipped Cream 7.50

Seriously, I'm wishing we had some RIGHTNOW. Primo, can you hear me? RIGHTNOW! ;) This trip is a trip of indulgence in every form. Sight, sound, smell, touch, and especially taste. I've fallen in love with my husband all over again, as if that were even possible, but it was, and is. Ahhh...bliss.

With that, good night everyone. Day 3 was a doozy. It too will be divided into two parts, with a very special section highlighting an incredibly amazing winery all it's own.

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