In my last post I told you a bit about my recent trip to visit a few Napa Valley wineries with my friends. Here’s the itinerary we followed along with our thoughts.
Napa Valley Wineries: Our Itinerary
Day 1 – Five Wine Tastings, A Delicious Dinner and a Good Night’s Sleep
First Winery: von Strasser – “Established in 1990, the von Strasser Winery produces wines full of mountain Cabernet intensity with the finesse of the finest Bordeaux.”
All five of us agreed that this was by far the best of the Napa Valley wineries we visited. If you go, make sure you don’t miss the cave tasting. Each of us purchased an unusual German varietal called Varietal: Gruner Veltliner and everyone loved their Port, which is an expensive indulgence to be sure at $75 per bottle. I will definitely visit again next time I’m in the area.
Second Winery: Vincent Arroyo
We were definitely educated on the wines offered, how they were made and were given a small tour of the facilities. All in all, a good tour choice.
Third Winery: Bremer Family
This was the site chosen for our gourmet picnic. It’s surprising I know, but you are no longer able to bring outside food to just any winery in Napa when wine tasting. Special permits must be obtained by the winery and there may be a fee involved so you should call ahead to determine if a picnic is permitted on the property you wish to visit.
Fourth Winery: Frank Family Vineyards
We opted for the reserve tasting here, so we also had a separate champagne tasting. These wines were also a big hit with our group. On the grounds are several areas for a picnic; just make sure you call ahead to reserve a table, if desired. This was one of the wineries that did not waive the tasting fee with a purchase. Even so, I would still return another time in the future.
Fifth Winery: Alpha Omega
This was one of the larger wineries we visited. The ambiance is elegant and sophisticated, just like the wines. Their flagship Cabernet is over $200 per bottle! You can get a taste, as well as 4 other wines, for $50 per person. The fee here was waived with a purchase and was one of highlights of the day as well.
Our first day ended with dinner at the St. Helena Bistro. I can’t say enough good things about our experience here. The outside may not look like very much, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate the great food, as we did. We tried some house-made pasta, a ribeye steak, grilled chicken salad and roasted game hen. All were excellent and each entree was under $30. We did not try any desserts this time, but I may go back another time just to try something sweet. Another plus: the restaurant was walking distance from our lodging, Hotel St. Helena, a quaint 18-room bed & breakfast.
Day 2 – One More Wine Tasting
After a restful night’s sleep, we went to J Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg, CA, which is on the other side of the valley (an hour northeast of St. Helena). J Vineyards is known for their sparkling wine and Pinots. There are several tasting options to choose from. We specifically reserved a food and wine pairing inside what is referred to as the Bubble Room. Several settings are offered on the weekends.
I have enjoyed the food and wine pairing (small plates) several times over the last couple of years and this particular seasonal menu was much more to my liking than in the past. The pairings really hit the mark for my friends and me. A couple of weeks after one menu is retired and a new one is set, the Chef will post several recipes on the website from the last menu. I am hoping to see the recipe for the lamb bacon soon as I would love to try this recipe at home.
For the experience and the quality of both food wine offered you can’t beat the price. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for your reservation.
Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.