Sunday, August 14, 2011

Napa - Day 4

What a way to start our last day. O'Brien had to be my VERY favorite small family owned winery of our entire trip. It was a Trip Advisor find and once again, they couldn't have been more right on.
Holden was the perfect laid back but knowledgeable guide and we were surprised to learn that O'Brien is going to be one of the first wineries to go "private," June 2012. It will only be open to tours and selling wine to their wine club members. They even pulled out of some major steakhouses here in Texas to be able to meet their Wine club sales demands.
The grounds were so peaceful and hearing the story of the owners made us love the wine and place, even more. He was a "dot com" computer guy that hit it big in the 90's but then lost nearly everything in the bust of 2001. They had just purchased this vineyard as a vacation home a couple of years before and made the decision to sell their mansion on silicon valley and move to the slower paced life of Napa, Valley.
They only produce 5000 cases per year and have no desire to become bigger, it sounds like he might have learned his lesson from before.
The thing that stands out about Bart O'Brien is how romantic he is and how important it is for his wine to tell his story. I was smitten.

As an example, the bottle labeled "Devotion," is not labeled as to what type of wine it is. You must turn it over to find it Cabernet and to see the poem that he has written for that particular bottle. "Day upon day, year upon year, a beautiful life is built together." WOW! Maybe is was because I was tasting how good the wine was but I couldn't help but think that could quite be the most romantic bottle of wine as a anniversary or wedding gift.
Another one was labeled "Passion Of The Soul." You turn it over to find, "You are the one that I want to become one with. To intermingle our footsteps on the sands of time. Will you join with me?" Uhhhm... can you say perfect engagement bottle?!?!?
We left on such a high but were well aware it was our last day in Napa Valley and we had some wineries to see. We headed to Domaine Chandon, thinking it was one with a castle on property.
We were wrong and instead it was a super commercial, high pressure wine club sales/bar environment. But we decided to grab a drink from "Lippy Lisa" and to sit down and have some fun!

And fun we did had. I put a picture of a cell phone in to remember that it was the World Golf Championship going on this weekend, so the guys had the full okay to check golf scores whenever they wanted. 
Love this picture of Megan.

When it was time to blow this pop stand... we did just that. I hope that this picture will bring back many memories when the four of us are seventy years old looking back at this trip!! ;)
 Of course, we all had to try to do it as good as Megan P, but to no avail.
 Darioush was our next appointment, recommended by some locals we had met the day before. Although I have heard they have great wine, our experience at the winery was far from that. It was crazy busy and the wine tasting fees were the most expensive all trip. When they seated us, our server poured some wine, handed us a leather binder and said, everything we would want to know would be in here and seemed annoyed when I asked her to tell us about the winery. ;( Since we had to wait so long in between pours since there was one pourer for the ENTIRE place, we had some fun!
The cute couple first....
Then the silly couple, when we found out our chairs lounged all the way back. I guess I missed the memo to pretend to be sleeping.
Reynold's Family was never on any of our lists but recommended by some people we ran into a couple of times and we decided to give it a try. As an impromptu visit, they took us back to the main winery and made the mistake of leaving the four of us alone here.... another good story to remember in forty years.
They had the laid back, family owned environment that we quickly came to love and this was my FAVORITE ninety minutes of our entire amazing trip.
We are so cheesy, we know! But we really don't care. We were having the time of our life and wanted to make sure we remembered it! ;)

We were having such a fun time, Blake didn't even care that he got red wine splashed ALL over his white shirt. Wine-a-way is a brilliant invention and the lady covered him with it and the wine instantly disappeared!
I decided to re-create the Bachelorette and ask Blake to accept my final rose!
He said YES!!!!!
While sitting there, we saw this OLD truck filled with barrels and decided to investigate. The guys took the camera and once again, were in charge of taking pictures! They did pretty good!!!
As sad as we were to leave, it was getting to the end of the day and we had so many more stops to make. We had heard of both Plump Jack and Cade by several people and didn't know they were owned by the same people.
So we stopped it at Plump Jack and got to enjoy Cade wines as well. They were awesome.
The grounds were amazing and we were a bit sad we were in such a hurry to revisit some of our initial favorites before they closed in just an hour. We definitely want to come back her and enjoy it more.

We remembered we hadn't eaten anything since 9:30 and Blake and I had run EIGHT miles that same morning, so we stopped at the super famous....
I think every single person that ever told me anything about Napa, had this store on their list! While Megan relaxed...
We openned one of our favorite wines and enjoyed lunch at 5PM..... ooops!
Do you like our "wine glasses?"
We left the northern part of Napa Valley and made a stop at Frog's Leap, Cakebread and Domaine Carneros, the very first three stops that we loved so much!
For dinner, we had reservations at easily the best resturant in the entire Napa Valley, in my opinion. Ad Hoc was fantastic and a MUST-DO for anyone in Napa. The braised short ribs served family style were defintley a meal we won't soon forget.
Other notes:
Some of our overall favorites to remember:
Domaine Carneros - Pinot Noir
The Pinot Noir from Mustards (see post)
Pinot Noir Rose from Chandon
O'Brien Merlot
Framk Family Pinot Noir (Blake's favorite)
  • We defintely learned we love the less commercial and much more personla wineyards like O'Brien, Reynold's Family, Vincient Arroyo, Schramsberg and Frogs Leap opposed to Berringer, Sterling or Darioush.
  • Each winery has it's own personality and therefore I see how everyone has their own distinct favorites.
  • Having the iteniary really helped and doing all the research. Although we only scratched the surface of the nearly 500 wineries said to be in The Napa valley, we were confident we had the ultimate experience with the 17 different ones we decided to see. I wouldn't have wanted to see more or less per day... it worked out perfectly each and every day.

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