The Big 30

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So I turned 30 last month. Ed surprised me with a trip to Napa. He secretly planned a nice three-day getaway and did a great job keeping me in suspense. The only thing I knew was that he was taking me away. I only found out when he took the off ramp to the airport and while checking in I saw the only flight that made sense with our arrival time.

We flew into Oakland and had a short drive to Napa Valley. We had such a great time. The weather was good up until the last day when it drizzled all day. But, it was still beautiful to see the vines budding. On this wine trip we decided to stick to wines that we never been to but knew we would enjoy. The most enjoyable vineyards on this trip would have to be Cakebread, Nickel and Nickel, and the best of them all, Far Niente. Loved these for their tastings and insightful tours. I didn't come back with any "wine notes" but have a few raves to share.

Cakebread's tour was nice and informative. I definitely recommend checking them out; just be sure to call ahead for a reservation. I didn't care so much for their white wines (in fact, I didn't like too many whites from Napa Valley); they weren't terrible, just not my favorite. We ended up purchasing the 1998 Dancing Bear Cabernet. It is fantastic. It wasn't a part of the wine tasting, however, we asked if we could taste before making the purchase and they opened it up. I can't wait to open this wine up.

Nickel and Nickel, and Far Niente had prepared tastings. Each pour was prepared in separate wine glasses to allow you to go back and forth between similar varietals. If you like spicy Zinfandel's, Nickel and Nickel have a few good ones to choose from. We had a hard time deciding which ones we loved the best because they were all very good. We joined their wine club and can't wait to see what we get. You really can't go wrong with any of their wines. Nickel and Nickel are owned by the partners of Far Niente.

Far Niente's grounds were out of this world. It was so enchanting and park-like. The tour was by far the best of the three. They provided cheese to give the full experience of the wines. I think what made each one so great was the people that represented the winemakers. They were educated and charismatic. All the wines in the tasting were great. Any one of them would make a great purchase. They showcased the following wines: 2003 Cave Collection Chardonnay (my favorite white on this trip; not buttery at all), 2005 Estate Bottled Chardonnay, 2000 Cave Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Estate Bottled Cabernet, and a 2003 Dolce. What I found interesting is that the Cave Collection is just a reserve of the same wine that is set aside. When the production begins to dwindle, they release the "Cave Collection" for much more $.

These are some pictures that we took of our trip to Napa.

We stayed at this great bed and breakfast, La Belle Epoque, right in Downtown Napa. I highly recommend it. They just had a change of owners that were fun to hang out with. Ed had a purchased a heart-shaped rose pedal arrangement on the bed. I couldn't help myself but jump in and make a mess.

This is the driveway to Far Niente, which is in Oakville. If you are interested in a tasting call in advance. They are a bit pricier then the rest, but is well worth it.

These are pictures from their grounds.

Pictures of the tour at Far Niente.

Dolce, also known as Liquid Gold, is a label of Far Niente's wine. It's the only single, late harvest wine in North America. It's a very sweet, sweet wine, hence, the name.

Here's a nice map of Napa should you want to make your way out there.