For better or worse, here I am—trapped in paradise. As long as I continue to live in this vital, inimitable spot on the globe,

I will continue to seek out the unique…the delicious…the innovative products, services and traditions of San Luis Obispo County.

Stay posted for a few of my favorite things.

About Me...

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A wanderlust at heart... captivated by the California Central Coast. Join me on my culinary and vino-infused adventures as I explore and discover the regional novelties of San Luis Obispo County that make living here...easy to stay...and hard to leave.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Elizabeth in Napa, Day 1

I recently ventured out of my SLO comfort zone—leaving the insular community of San Luis Obispo—vanishing from the county for a few days. I left the younger SLO vines behind me for a taste of Napa Valley. This whirlwind tasting adventure (13 wineries in less than two days) resulted in less of a story about the nuances of the wines that I swished, snuffled, and savored—but, rather, a journey where I left my familiar surroundings, tried something new, and learned firsthand about some of the many wines from this world-renown region. Following are a few of my favorite sights from the first day of the trip...

After driving all morning and then hitting two wineries in the Carneros region—an appellation where grapes ripen in a long, cool growing season influenced by maritime fog—my traveling companion and I stopped to recoup at Domaine Carneros, where we were seated inside their lovely chateau-like winery for a flight of their crisp sparkling wine. Relaxing and enchanting!

Our next stop transported us to Artesa Vineyards and Winery. Nestled on a Napa hillside, this contemporay establishment offered stunning views of the surrounding valley. Upon entering their visitor center, I felt like I'd stepped in to a museum. We made our way past the lobby, peering at the glass, metal and canvas artwork adorning the center room, created by the winery's Artist in Residence, Gordon Huether. Once in the tasting room, we delighted in experiencing some of their reserve and limited release wines, including a rich, smooth 2005 Cabernet Franc, Alexander Valley AVA, that reigned as one of my favorites of the day.

Gordon Huether's "Nails of the Cross" sculptures surround Artesa's main fountain at the base of the staircase, leading up to the winery.

At the end of the day we rushed down to the heart of Napa Valley to visit one last winery before the tasting rooms closed. Ending up at the infamous Robert Mondavi Winerya symbol of Napa Valley since 1966—we made our way back to the reserve tasting rooms. Little did we know where we'd end up.

After tasting some of Mondavi's lovely and aromatic Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir reserve wines, my adventurous companion boldly asked an attendant if we could make our way to the fermentation room (which he had once visited during an auction).

Granted permission, we wandered with a glass of wine in hand, ducked past the ropes, and meandered alone, where dozens of grandiose fermentation tanks lined the room. Wine permeated the air.

The hallway beckoned us and we delved deeper into the cold, stark cellar room below, marveling at the perfect symmetrically-lined barrels of ageing wine.

Later my friend recounted the story of years ago when his parents visited this winery when he was just a baby. Back in those days, the late Robert Mondavi acted as a tour guide on his own winery tours, holding my friend as a baby on their tour.

At the end of the day—after swishing, snuffling, savoring, and exploring five wineries—we were still ready for day two of our Napa adventure.

All Text and Photos Copyright © 2010 by Elizabeth in SLO. All Rights Reserved.


Fresh Local and Best said...

These photos are so beautiful! I adore the pictures of the barrels at Robert Mondovi with its bellies stained of red wines.

Lindsey said...

I feel like I am reliving my tour of Napa from last year. I love the lack of crowds in the winter and the way the mustard looks between the vines. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos! It was a welcome "mental" vacation!

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