Napa, California. Wine Country.
I’m not going to lie – before visiting Napa, everything I knew about it I learned from Dennis Quaid in the 1998 version of The Parent Trap. And let’s be honest… what woman wouldn’t want to go down into Nick Parker’s wine cellar?
Well, I may not have met Dennis Quaid while traipsing around Napa, but I did try some amazing wine and meet some amazing people. I experienced more than just fermented grapes, but this entry will focus on the wineries I visited.
My trip to Napa was only 2.5 days; and in that time I managed to see 6 of their over 400 wineries. So much wine, so little time. The first full day in Napa my travel companion and I decided to book a wine tour so we didn’t have to worry about figuring out which wineries to visit and transportation (you don’t really want to be driving around the curvy back roads between wineries once your 3 of 4 tastings deep). We chose Platypus for our excursion and I’m SO glad we did. *See the end of this entry for more information.
Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on wine (revert to the beginning of this post for confirmation on that) but I like what I like. The descriptions below are not reviews, but rather narrations of my experiences – all positive.
The first stop of our tour and my favorite wines of the day. What a perfect beginning. The atmosphere was woodsy and relaxed. The tasting featured some delicious wines – but I must highlight one in particular – The Poet [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec]. It was the star of the show. It was silky smooth with notes of blackberry and dark red cherries – subtle warming spice – I loved it.
Auburn James Winery
Out of the wineries we visited this was my favorite tasting experience. The wines were all delicious and the tasting was awesome. It was very informative and also laid back. Tim Ennis, the winery’s manager, hosted the tasting and we were fortunate enough to get some face time with Jim Frost (the James in Aurburn James) – the winemaker. Favorite wine: Speedster [45% Petit Verdot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc]. If you’re looking for a small, intimate tasting experience with some delicious wines – this place is perfect.
Fairwinds Estate Winery
The neatest part of this place was the ‘wine cave’. The wines were not my favorite, but they were good. What can I say? It’s wine. But the cave was awesome. Nestled in the side of the Napa hillside, the cave is hidden behind two beautiful wooden doors and filled with rows and rows of wine barrels. That’s what I’ll remember out Fairwinds.
Large spanning vineyards, beautiful outdoor patio – big scale operation with a personal feel. Provenance winery had a very intimate style tasting – sitting in lounge furniture around an outdoor fire pit. Our host took us inside for a ‘barrel-tasting’ – this. was. awesome. We had the opportunity to sample wine in the middle of the fermenting process – although not particularly tasty, it was well worth the experience.
Black Stallion Estate Winery
Fo over all experience – I choose Black Stallion Estate Winery. The grounds of the vineyard are breathtaking, the buildings architecturally pleasing, delicious wines, and great staff. We had the pleasure of meeting the General Manager, Josh and he took us into the processing area to learn about wine making – what a treat! Two fun facts about Black Stallion – they’re built on the grounds of an actual horseman’s center (stables, trails, riding arena… the whole bit) and their 2012 Limited Release Cabernet Sauvignon was served at the 2017 presidential inauguration (I’d like to point out that this in no way reflects the political views of Black Stallion Estate Winery or it’s employees – but rather simply examples their amazing wine making).
Luna is located right off of Silverado Trail just down the road from Black Stallion Winery. It’s a beautiful little building with a 2nd floor viewing deck that looks over their expanse of vineyards. This is also the only winery where I tried Sparkling Wine [Carneros] – YUM.
I feel satisfied with the amount of wine I ingested while in Napa, and very much plan to visit again to drink delicious wine, with amazing people, in a beautiful place.
P.S. I also had some awesome non-wine related experiences in Napa – check out my Michelin Star blog entry here and coming soon – Napa Valley Sans Wine.
Let’s talk Platypus Wine Tours.
We booked this tour VERY last minute (as in 11:00pm the night before) and boy am I glad we did. The shuttle picked us up at our hotel (Napa Valley Marriott) and we were greeted by the most wonderful driver – Dave. The tour included shuttle service to 4 wineries (always random – always awesome), complimentary water, and complimentary CHEESE plate… yeah, cheese plate! The wine tastings are not included in the price – BUT – you receive a discounted price of $15/tasting at most of the wineries (and some tastings can be pretty pricey otherwise). Many of the wineries also offer discounts on purchasing wines while on a Platypus tour.
Check them out here. We had a couple on our shuttle who had been on SEVEN Platypus tours over the years…if that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what does.
Cosentino Winery – 7415 St Helena Hwy, Yountville, CA 94599
Auburn James Winery – 1001 Silverado Trail S, St Helena, CA 94574
Fairwinds Estate Winery – 4550 Silverado Trail N, Calistoga, CA 94515
Provenance Vineyards – 1695 St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA 94574
Black Stallion Estate Winery – 4089 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
Luna Vineyards – 2921 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558