Thoughts On Visiting Napa Valley California

Note: Winexpression is pleased to welcome a guest writer to the team! This person brings a fresh prospective on the world of wine, travel, food, photography, and the Wine Country lifestyle that interests so many. I am proud to post their well written content to this site, and if we can convince them to stay around, I’m sure we’ll receive many more entry’s in the future. This journalist and photographer will remain anonymous for now, but who knows, maybe they will want some credit for their work down the road. Please enjoy!

Update: We’ve decided on a name for The Anonymous Poster, and well, since we love acronyms, we’re going with T.A.P. :o)

Napa_mustard_and_vines

Living in the Bay Area, we are almost footsteps away from some of the most sought after wines in the world.  People from all parts of the earth come to experience what we, many times, take for granted.  What am I talking about?  The Napa Valley, of course!  It’s really quite interesting how little time we actually spend in this area.  But, in our defense, Napa can quickly become very expensive, as any of you know who have visited there before.  So we find it best to make our trips to the valley somewhat sporadic, but each time proves to be memorable.

This weekend we took an overnight trip which was just what we needed to recharge.  The weather wasn’t what most would consider ideal, it rained the entire time, but Napa is beautiful, rain or shine.

We booked a room at the Yountville Inn, a first time for us.  Our room was comfortable and very clean.  It featured open beam ceilings and a gas fireplace, which added to the warmth on a rainy weekend.  A buffet is offered each morning, serving Starbucks coffee, cereal, toasts, hard-boiled eggs, and a variety of baked goods from the Model Bakery, amongst other things.  A tasting card is also provided along with a map and a list of wineries that offer things such as complementary tastings or discounts on purchases.  This is a very nice touch for anyone visiting for the first time as it can help you to navigate through the myriads of wineries.  A word of caution, however, to those thinking of staying here, the walls are thin!  So much so that you can hear your neighbors everyday conversations as well as the toilets flushing.  Not exactly what you want to awaken to at midnight!  But, maybe if you’re a heavy sleeper it won’t matter much to you.

We visited some wineries that we’d been too before and some that were a first for us.  Our stops included Luna Vineyards, Domaine Chandon, Silverado Vineyards, Grgich Hills and Freemark Abbey.

Silverado has been a mainstay for us.  The tasting room is beautiful in that it has floor to ceiling glass doors that overlook the vineyards below.  There is a terrace with several bistro style tables outside, and when it isn’t raining, of course, they encourage you to take your tasting outside and enjoy the view.  But even if it is raining there are tables and chairs inside that allow you to relax and take in the view.  Since we are seasoned tasters at Silverado, we found ourselves sipping wine at one of the tables while leafing through cookbooks that are offered for purchase, instead of standing at the tasting counter.  The wine is sure to please and while you’re there, buy a Merlot filled chocolate ball (sold in a pack of 10 only)…a treat that will leave you wanting more!

Another winery that wasn’t new to us is Freemark Abbey.  It had been some time, though, since we’d visited, and we really like their wine so we decided to make it one of our stops.  The tasting room is warm and inviting with a large fireplace, a couch and chairs welcoming visitors.  The grounds are also well kept and beautiful.   Aside from the wines being outstanding, what really stood out to us was the high level of customer service offered.  Employees at some wineries can be very off-putting, even giving the consumer the feeling that they aren’t worthy enough to taste their wines.  But that was not the case at Freemark Abbey.  The staff was very friendly, informative and down to earth.  They even suggested that a tasting could be shared, but poured into separate glasses, for each to enjoy.   Granted, the tasting room wasn’t packed, which could lead to less individualized attention on some occasions, but when you have an employee who is genuinely interested in the consumer enjoying their wines, you feel it and it can make all the difference in the world.

Unfortunately, that was not the feeling we got at Grgich Hills.  It was our first stop on Monday, and while each employee had a couple they were pouring for, it was certainly not as busy as a winery can get.  The gentleman pouring for us had been attending to two women prior to our coming in.  While he offered pairing suggestions with each wine poured, there was sort of an air about him, if you will.  When questioned about their practice of organic and biodynamic farming, it was almost as if he spoke down to us.  Perhaps he was put off by the fact that we had a complementary tasting card, provided to us by our hotel.  Maybe he was just more interested in the woman he was pouring for rather than us.  Or maybe that is just his personality and we read him wrong.  Whatever the case, a tasting experience can really make or break a return to the winery.  And with over 300 wineries in the Napa valley alone, it’s not just your wine that should stand out above the others, it’s also your hospitality.  The competition is much too fierce to leave anything to chance.

All in all though, our trip was very enjoyable and you can be sure that it won’t be the last time we visit the Napa valley.  No matter how many times you visit you will always be drawn back to it’s beauty, the friendly wineries that you find, and of course the great wine that they pour.

Posted by T.A.P.