Saturday, September 13, 2014

Napa Valley, CA September 9-11, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We got started on our way to Napa Valley about 9:30 this morning and had a fairly easy trip except for some very bumpy sections on  California  I-80.  We arrived in Napa and are settled into the Napa Valley Expo Center campground, which is very nice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We headed up the wine trail this morning and enjoyed the beautiful views of the vineyards and mountains.   The first few wineries we stopped at were either tasting by appointment only or had a rather pricey fee for tasting, so we moved along.  We stopped at the V. Sattui Winery, one of the oldest in Napa Valley.  It was started in 1885 in San Francisco and moved to its present location in 1975.  It is very reminiscent of Italy, and the wines were good too, especially one called Gamay Rouge.  We had a good time tasting there.

Tasting at V. Sattui.
Bonnie found a good wine glass. 

An antique wine press at V. Sattui.  

Happy tasters at Sutter Home.  
At the Sutter Home Winery, we tried some varieties that are not sold in stores, only at the winery, such as Bubbly Pink Moscato, Gewrutztraminer, and Sweet Red.    Yum!  The folks there were very nice and helpful, and the gift shop was interesting to say the least.

We stopped in St. Helena so that I could revisit The St. Helena Oil Company where I had bought some wonderful dirty martini olive juice the last time I was out here.  Naturally I bought some more. It is such a quaint shop with all kinds of oil and vinegar and antiques--it is an interesting stop.   We had lunch at the Model Bakery in town, and Steve had a good time shopping at Steve's Ace Hardware.

In the afternoon we visited the Beringer Winery and explored the beautiful Rhine House which is the centerpiece of the estate.  This 17 room mansion  has beautiful exterior stonework, stained-glass windows, and  interior wood paneling.  It is a wonderful example of classic ornate Victorian architecture with many gables, turrets, and ornaments.   The grounds are equally beautiful, with many varieties of flowering plants, fountains, topiary, and a grove of redwoods and sequoias.  It was getting late, so we opted not to do a tasting there, but the mansion was well worth visiting.
Rhine House entryway

Beringer vineyard. 
Rhine House at Beringer Winery.  

 Thursday, September 11, 2014.    NEVER FORGET 9/11!!

Our main goal today was to explore the Castillo de Amorosa in Calistoga, and what an experience it was!   This is a replica of a 13th century Tuscan castle, and once again I felt like I was back in Italy.  It was built by hand, using  old world masonry, ironwork, and woodwork techniques .  The castle has 107 rooms on 8 floors (4 above and 4 below ground) and features a moat, drawbridge, defensive towers, an interior courtyard, a chapel, a torture chamber, and a great hall complete with hand painted frescoes, a 500 year old fireplace, and a coffered ceiling.   Beneath the castle are a 2-acre barrel cellar and tasting rooms for the wine which is sold only at the castle.  The tasting was included in the tour price and was excellent.  Our wine steward was a lovely young French girl who is interning here.  Since Steve did not participate in the tasting, I had to sample my 6 wines plus 6 for him!   Such a sacrifice on my    The pino grigio was the best I have ever tasted, and the Simpatico and Gioia were so yummy that we had to buy some.   This tour and tasting was definitely a highlight of the trip.

In the south tower.  
View from the castle loggia.  

Wine casks.  

Waiting at the well.  

My favorite pino grigio - at the castle.  
 We decided to return to V. Sattui Winery for our lunch since they have such a wonderful selection of cheeses and deli items and a lovely picnic area.  We bought cheese, bread, Gamay Rouge, chips, and a wonderful Italian item called arroncini which I love and ate with great relish since I haven't had it anywhere since I left Italy.   We enjoyed our picnic on the shady grounds of the winery while admiring the vineyards and the beautiful countryside.   It was a great day!

Picnic at V. Sattui.  

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