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Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

Irvine, CA
Level Contributor
39 posts
1 review
Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

We came to Wine Country from Southern CA to celebrate our 3rd Anniversary. We stayed at The Chanric Inn in Calistoga, which recently opened in the last year (building used to be some other B&B). Ric and Channing (the Innkeepers) were very friendly and make great hosts. Ric makes excellent breakfasts every morning!! We would definitely go back.

In 4 days, we visited the following wineries:

Mondavi--$25 per person for tour and tasting—went here first to get an overview of winemaking and the Napa Valley. Great learning experience, although our wine educator was a little testy and didn’t like to answer questions. Kind of strange, but glad we did this as our first stop.

Schramsberg--$25 per person for tour and tasting—awesome experience as many have mentioned here. Really enjoyed their somewhat spooky caves and learning how to make/riddle sparkling wines. Bought a couple bottles of the Brut Rose, which incidentally was what Bush served to Queen Elizabeth at the Whited House last week.

Frank Family—free tasting—great small winery. Usually they don’t pour their reserve wines for tasting, but when we were there they were pouring all of their reserves. We got to taste over 10 wines! It was great! We really enjoyed their reserve Chardonnay so we purchased one to take home.

Frog’s Leap—free tour and tasting—awesome environmentally “green” winery. The grounds are lovely, the new building just beautiful. We got there a little early and they poured their new release Pink for us while we waited and we enjoyed it on their nice porch in rocking chairs. Very nice experience, great tour guide. I really like the “farm” feel and how “homey” they are.

Jarvis--$30 per person tour and tasting—awesome winery built entirely into a mountainside (except for growing the grapes). The tasting is done in a beautiful dining room and served with cheese and crackers which was very nice. Again, loved their Chardonnay (can you tell I like white wines) so we bought the reserve to take home.

Hess Collections--$10 tasting for 4 wines (can share)—Beautiful building and a nice drive up the mountain. Very interesting art collection here! Wasn’t too found of their wines, but I loved their Sirah Rose (served completely chilled), great for the summer. It’s from the Hess Small Block collection that is not distributed.

Vincent Arroyo—free tasting—great small winery! Cute labs JJ and Bodgea!! Usually Vincent is sold out of their wine for sale since it’s a “futures” winery, but they had just released a few wines last week so they had plenty for sale. We really liked the Bodega blend (named after the chocolate lab) and the Sangiovese.

Bennett Lane--$10 tasting for four wines (can share)—Absolutely loved their wine. They just released a white wine Maximus for the first time and it was fantastic (they still have the red Maximus which is very popular). Small production, usually sell out. They have plans to expand their property. We’re thinking about joining their wine club since we liked them so much.

Clos Pergase--$10 tasting for four wines or $15 for three reserve wines (can share). Didn’t care for their wines too much, but by now my palate may have been shot. The art was very interesting though and worth a stop.

Twomney--$5 tasting plus get to keep glass (can share)—Enjoyed their 2001 Merlot but thought it was overpriced. Nice tasting room and grounds!

Dinners:

Cindy’s BackStreet Kitchen—LOVED this place. We had a great waitress and the food was excellent. I had a fish special and my husband had the Mustard BBQ Pork chop which was fantastic. My favorite part was the Pineapple Upside Down Cake for dessert—so good. The waitress said she enjoyed us so much that she comped both of our desserts. I thought that was SO nice!!!!!

Market—Pretty good food, I had the lobster pasta and my husband had the fried chicken. Yummy desserts and casual atmosphere.

Celedon—Really liked this restaurant. I thought the menu was outstanding and very varied. We had scallops and the filet—great appetizers and salads too. We sat on the patio which was closed in since it was chilly and I pretty much froze the entire time even with the heaters. It was chilly!! It would be really nice in warmer weather!

Taylor’s Refresher—had lunch here, great food at good prices, loved their milkshakes. It wasn’t very busy mid-week.

Oakville Grocery—also had lunch here and it was so crowded! The sandwiches were very good and there are a few picnic tables out back for you to enjoy your food.

Had a great time and plan to go back soon!!! Easy trip from Southern California!

Littleton, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,855 posts
57 reviews
1. Re: Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

Thank you so much for the detailed report! I'm in the midst of planning a short trip to Napa in July, so your descriptions are very helpful in planning our tastings and restaurants. Nice to learn of wineries that still have free tastings. Thanks!

Kauai, Hawaii
Level Contributor
2,452 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

Thank you...was just thinking about a trip "over the bridge" from Half Moon Bay in the next few weeks for a day or two.

Kauai, Hawaii
Level Contributor
2,452 posts
12 reviews
3. Re: Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

Shake N Bake...we meet again. You were so helpful when I contemplated a Colorado trip about three years ago. Never made it...but ended up in Kauai for a month instead. Love these T.A. connections!

Level Contributor
39,316 posts
1,019 reviews
4. Re: Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

Thanks for the report, we had a very nice lunch at Cindy's this past March when we visited Napa Valley. :)

Irvine, CA
Level Contributor
39 posts
1 review
5. Re: Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

Couple of other things:

We flew into Sacramento Airport on Jet Blue and it was a breeze. No security lines and easy in and out at the rental counter.

Also, we used the wine shipper boxes to check two boxes of wine as luggage on the way home. I was nervous, but it worked perfectly--no broken bottles. Good way to carry home some with with you! We bought them at Vincent Arroyo, but saw them at several other wineries too.

Seattle, Wa
3 posts
1 review
6. Re: Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

fantastic review! thank you for all of your details :)

7. Re: Wine Country Trip Report May 2007

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