I am back from a holiday break and am back in work hell now as I am sure the rest of you are as well. One more California post and then moving on to new topics.
After we left Mendocino, we headed down the coast and then inland to Napa. We decided to take the scenic route which took us down route 1 and past some of the most amazing coastline I have ever seen. We stopped in a small town called Point Arena. This is one of those towns that takes down any directional signs to keep people from discovering and ultimately spoiling it.
And this is what I love about California, the town was really small, in the middle of nowhere, and yet we were able to stop in a deli (The Record) on the almost non-existent main street in town and have a ridicuously good lunch. I had a reuban with neiman-ranch pastrami and soft and spicy dark rye bread. I chased this down with a home made gingerale.
We then headed inland on what looked like a road on the map we had. It would hardly call it a road - it was like hiking with a car, and a minivan at that. The road curved and rose up the hills of Sonoma and it was scary and exhilerating and stunning and surprising. For 1 1/2 hours we passed two other cars and saw what I think was the most beautiful part of the country I have witnessed to date. I didn't take pictures because even though I wasn't driving, I thought somehow me not concentrating on the road would make us fall off the huge cliff on either side of the car.
When we finally came down on the other side of the mountain and peeled our fingers out of the seat cushions, as if an oasis, Ferrari-Carrano wineries appeared ahead of us - and we had five minutes before closing. We literally ran through the gate and up the long drive to arrive breathless as the staff was cleaning up. They graciously let us taste their wines not knowing how much it helped to calm our nerves. I don't really remember the wines, just how good it felt to be drinking wine, and not driving.
We checked into the Best Western Elm House Inn just of Route 29 in Napa which was one of the more affordable and surprisingly nicest hotels I have stayed at. I would highly recommend it. On to dinner at the Bounty Hunter which is named for the owner who finds and distributes rare and unique wines. As to be expected the wine list was long and interesting. Not as expected, but definitely welcomed was a high quality of the food. We shared beer can roasted chicken, a pulled pork sandwich, artichoke dip, and ribs. All was delicious.
The next morning we ate complimentary Belgian waffles at the hotel and then headed to Miner Vineyards on the Silverado Trail for a private tour. The was the highlight of the whole trip. Not only did we taste 11 plus wines (I lost track after a while) the quality of each varietal was pretty amazing - usually you go to a winery and one or two wines that they are known for stand out and the rest are just ok. We even got to try pinot noir right out of the barrel. The riedel stemware that was used for tasting certainly added to the experience. We left 3 hours later, a little drunk and a bottle of chardonnay richer (we drank it at Christmas and it was as good as remembered.)
On to a picnic lunch at V. Sattui, a regular stop for us where you can get cheese, salads, cured meats and a cheap bottle of wine and sit outside at one of their many picnic benches. Also, their tasting is free which is a plus.
With not much soberness left in us, we decided to hit two more vineyards. First was Plumpjack which is known for their screwtop wines. They were fine, but at this point the taste buds were a little dull. We skipped out on the $5 tasting fee because the woman behind the counter didn't get off the phone the whole time we were there and we went to Silverado Vineyards as much for the view as for anything else. Again, the wines were good - but hard for us to taste.
Some pictures from the trip...
Back to San Francisco that night. An evening of bar hopping in North Beach with stops at Specs and Vesuvio's - both high on the character charts.
The next morning it was off to New York with a quick stop for shrimp tempura udon at Ebisu in the International Terminal of SFO before boarding (again, only in California - even the food at the airport is great.)