We returned to San Francisco from Toronto on July 5th and drove straight back to Coarsegold for a couple of days of rest and chores (you know, more time at the laundromat) before departing on Saturday, July 8th for Napa. We stayed at the Napa Fair Grounds, just a few blocks from downtown (thanks to our Florida friends, Maggie & John, for scoping it out for us while they were in Napa early this summer). This was an ideal location for exploring the town. As it turned out, my brothers had arranged a birthday gift for me that I think Siobhan enjoyed just as much as I did. I’ve included my thank you note (in italics below) to them here as it explains the highlights of the chauffeured Napa wine tour they sent us on. So much fun!
Hi Bob, Mark & Michael,
I wanted to get a proper thank you out to all three of you for the awesome birthday gift you guys bestowed upon me for my 60th birthday celebration. Siobhan and I had an absolute blast. In fact, we were having so much fun at one of the wineries, we ended up staying there for an hour longer than we were scheduled!
We went to the Hess Winery first and really enjoyed it. The three-floor art collection was intriguing and the grounds were stunning. We were both reminded of one of the wineries we visited in Italy a few years ago. Our favorites here were the 2013 Hess Collection Mount Veeder 19 Block Cuvée coming in at #2 and the 2014 Hess Small Block Cabernet Sauvignon winning the contest.
Round Pond, our hands-down favorite of the day, included a food pairing with the tasting and garden tour. After our first round of tastings with Sauvignon Blancs (which we don’t normally enjoy, yet, one of these was spectacular), we were turned loose in the organic gardens. To our delight, we found a small table with a few bottles of wine, olive oils and breads out there! Oops, might have stayed there a bit too long. Back to the second floor terrace to enjoy the breeze and view of the 462 acre property (worth somewhere between $800k – $1M per acre) and round two with the food pairings. This time, three different reds, a Reserve, a Proprietary and a Rutherford. Since we enjoyed all three of them and couldn’t pick just one, Janie (our hostess) just poured us another sample of each. No wonder we stayed too long.
Upon arriving at a third winery, we asked Brian about lunch. Evidently, we misled him regarding the food pairing so he thought that was lunch. It was only three bits of awesome tasty treats to accentuate the flavors of each of the reds.
So, Brian whisked us off to Brix, a beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant with incredible flower gardens (Siobhan was in her glory here too). We enjoyed our meals and a bottle of beer (yes, really, in wine country just to be different and take a break from all the wine we already consumed) before jumping back in the Escalade for a ride to Stags Leap Winery as our final destination.
Beautiful spot on the outdoor patio overlooking the vineyards (miles of them). Fun atmosphere and generous pours too! Honestly, though, by this time we really could not tell the difference so just thoroughly enjoyed each wine we sampled. We played along though, as if we could tell the difference. You know, first letting the wine breathe a bit after being poured, then swirling it to check its legs, then sniffing for flavors and hints of fruits and then, of course, chugging!
Brian, an Army veteran and life-long resident of Napa, was a great guy. He picked us up at our RV at 10:10 AM and had the stops for the day all planned. He indicated that he got some input from “my brothers” and would share nothing more about that. Good deal, increased the suspense. We enjoyed getting to know him a bit while riding around. He has two kids in high school. His daughter is 17 and going into the military upon graduation. She also is the first female in Napa county to make the high school varsity football team and she is a starting defensive back and pretty to boot! After the military, she plans to be a singer and artist. His son is 14 and plans to follow his Dad’s footsteps by having his own business.
Brian joined the military with the intent of saving money to start his limo company and did exactly that. Cool guy. He is also very interested in getting his own RV in the future. In fact, he couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of ours just to get the feel for it. So when we got back to the RV around 5:30, we snapped a few pictures of him behind the wheel on his camera.
Just a spectacular day. The only thing that could have made it even better was if you guys could have been there too!
Thank you for the great adventure.
love you guys,
The Hess Winery and Art Gallery
Round Pound Wine Tasting & Food Pairing
Brix for Lunch
The day before our Chaffeur-driven tour, we took a self-guided tour of Sonoma Valley. Not as much fun as the chauffeur-driven tour, but, still worth the trip.
This is a place that we will get back to in the future. Can’t help but have fun. If you ever get the chance to visit, we highly recommend giving Brian a call and have him show you the town. You can reach him at 707-655-6053 or firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his website at http://www.alimoexcursion.net.