Napa Valley, the Disneyland for wine lovers.
Over Christmas, I got the chance to spend 4 wine induced days in Napa Valley with my Dad (Dad of the year). Christmas is usually spent somewhere cold and full of snow so this one was definitely a different experience and one I will never forget.
Let me start by telling you that I have never drank as much wine as I did in those 4 days and let me also tell you, I will never find a cabernet at my local wine and spirits that comes close to anything I sipped on in Napa.
The first day consisted of traveling, a lot of rain, and 4 wineries that led to sleeping through dinner reservations (which I am still upset about).
When we finally got to the Napa River Inn, which was located in downtown Napa’s Riverfront District, it was pouring down rain but that obviously didn’t stop us from going out with our umbrellas to explore and taste some local wines at the local tasting rooms. Since it was Christmas Eve, a lot of places downtown were closed but we managed to find three places that were open. We started out at Gustavo Wine Room. This was our first stop in Napa and the wine was delicious. I was very surprised that my favorite wine was a Syrah. It was served with a piece of dark chocolate and was unlike any other Syrah I had ever had, and continued to have throughout the weekend. Crazy thing is, we were sitting next to a couple that had just moved here from Florida but were originally from the suburbs of Chicago.
After Gustavo, we grabbed our umbrellas and made our way over to John Anthony’s Wine Room. This was an extremely classy winery and had a sophisticated atmosphere to it. My favorite wine from John Anthony’s was the Chardonnay. I also discovered what a “needle wine opener was”. This bottle opener allows you to pour your favorite wine without removing the cork. All you have to do is insert the needle through the cork to pressurize the bottle, pour your wine and the cork will naturally reseal. Although pricey, it would make an awesome gift for wine lovers.
After John Anthony’s, we made our way over to JaM Cellars. JaM Cellars was a fun and uppity place to be. They had great décor, awesome music playing, and great food dishes. I wasn’t a huge fan of the wine, but between the atmosphere, the cute dog I pretended was my own, one tasty Mediterranean platter and the fun server, we had a blast! This ended our fun filled day and led to me taking a “nap” after that continued into the next morning, resulting in a missed dinner reservation and one hungry Jord in the morning.
Day 2, Christmas Day!
Since I had fallen asleep at seven the previous night, I was awake on Christmas morning around 5 AM. The resort had a beautiful balcony and I was able to watch the sunrise over the mountains while drinking my coffee. Since it was Christmas Day, the entire town was completely empty. It was honestly like a ghost town. However, this made for a wonderful early morning walk through the town with our Santa hats on to see all of the restaurants, gift shops, and wineries. Luckily, we were able to find a beautiful hotel that was open and serving mimosas. After a few mimosas, we headed back to start getting ready for our adventurous day ahead.
Once we were ready, we called an Uber and made our way to Del Dotto Winery. Del Dotto winery was by far the most beautiful winery I have ever seen. The entire inside looked like it was straight out of Italy with the artwork, white marble, and beautiful gold structures. While at Del Dotto, we did a wine tour like I had never done before. They took us through the caves and we got to barrel taste all of the selected wines. Since it was my first barrel tasting, I had no idea what to expect but it was definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. After we did the wine-tasting, we made our way upstairs for a delicious spread of appetizers. I honestly haven’t tasted meat, cheeses, and pizza that good since I had been in Italy myself. This winery was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had while tasting wine. After Del Dotto, the night consisted of a beautiful (wine-free) dinner at Silverado Resort and Spa and an early night in.
This was by far the busiest of the days and packed with the most spectacular views and delicious wines. We went to 4 different wineries and they were all so unique and special in their own way. This day was a lot of fun because we had a driver that took us to the different wineries and even stopped to get us some food in between.
The first stop was Silver Oak. For those of you who don’t know, Silver Oak is known for its lighthouse which is displayed on all of the bottles. When we got there, the first thing I noticed was the lighthouse. Aside from that though, was the most spectacular view I had ever seen. Silver Oak was fun because we got to do a tour through out the historic gallery, production area and seller, and a tasting in the glass house. From sampling these wines, the first thing I noticed was the different taste among the age groups. I preferred the wine from 2013 rather than the wines that were just bottled in 2017.
After Silver Oak, we had some time to kill so we made our way over to Opus One. What makes Opus One so unique is that they only make one signature wine, and another wine, Overture, that is made with fruit that doesn’t make the opus one grade. When we got to the winery, we bought a glass of 2015 and 2013 Opus One. Opus One has a beautiful upstairs that is completely open and had the most breathtaking view. We sat upstairs for a while enjoying the sunshine and enjoying our glasses of wine. Both of these wines had very distinct tastes and colors to them. It was a hard choice but I preferred the 2013 Opus One because of its more floral aroma.
After Opus one, we made our way to Paradigm. Paradigm was by far the best tour/experience we had. The younger guy who was giving the tour was extremely personable and he made the experience so much fun. He even greeted us at the car with a glass of wine… which is incredible service! One of the things that I loved so much about Paradigm was that it was started by this couple and you really felt like you were at home there. The wine was also very delicious and he was very gracious about his pours. We even got to meet the owner and he could not have been any nicer.
Last stop was Newton Vineyards. Newton Vineyards was built onto the hillside and it had the most breathtaking views of the vineyards and the entire valley. Of all the places we went, this by far had the best views. The different thing about this tour was that they almost teased you with the wine the entire tour, meaning you didn’t get to sample until after the tour was over. The wine was presented so nicely with matching coasters so you knew exactly what you were sampling. There was even a menu and wine paring that Queen Elizabeth had sampled back in the day.
Overall; Silver Oak had the best tour, Opus One had the best wine, Paradigm had the best overall experience, and Newton had the best scenery. Each of these wineries were so unique and were an experience of a lifetime.
Day 4, Traveling back to San Francisco.
On our last day, we made our way to Celani Family Vineyards and this was cool because we got to sample wine in their actual house since they were a friend of the family. Before the tour, we went on a long walk in the vineyards and took in the last of the sunshine before heading back to the cold. After this, we went to Cavallo Point for lunch and to see the Golden Gate Bridge. This resort was so cute because it was lodged inside the hill and had the most breathtaking views of the Bridge. It was also my first time in San Francisco so I was enjoying every minute of the views and the drive back to the hotel.
This trip was definitely one for the memory books. I cannot thank my dad enough for all of the hard work and planning that he put into this trip and into making my first experience in Napa one I will never forget.