A beautiful day in Napa

Dear Sonya,

I miss you. A lot. Where you are, I am sure the wine is crap. Where I am, there is enough wine to make us giggle like school girls. After a hardy breakfast at Sears Restaurant, we headed north for Napa. We had a 12:30 olive tour booked at Round Pond Winery.

A picture with Ross at Round Pond Winery

I didn ‘t really have any expectations, but it turned out to be a great way to start our tour of Napa Valley. Ross, our guide, was so knowledgeable, and incredibly passionate about olives and olive production, that you could not help but be very interested too. I think the biggest surprise of the tour was the food – that they served any at all. So this is how it went down: Ross told us stories about olives and how the olives came to be. We then saw the machinery (olive press) that took the olives from fruit to oil. We were then invited to taste oil and vinegar, and shown the correct technique of tasting both. By the way, much of the “extra virgin oil” that we purchase from grocery stores may not be EVOO. The FDA approves olive oil that the European government deems unsuitable for human consumption. Think about that. Note, a test that was conducted (and I’ll have to look into that further) showed that Kirkland brand (Costco) EVOO was the only brand included in the test that was actually pure EVOO. Think about that too.

Because we asked about the wine, Ross let us have a taste of their Bovet Blanc. But before I get ahead of myself, we had the opportunity to sample both their Italian Varietal olive oil and their Blood Orange olive oil. We learned that the proper way to sample the oils was in a non-clear glass (the olive should be tasted, not judged by the eye), slurped like you would during a proper wine tasting, swallowed and ended with 3 coughs. One cough is insulting, so cough 3 times. Don’t try this method with the vinegar. The vinegar tasting was different, and interesting. We were given 2 sugar cubes and 2 vinegars (Cabernet/Merlot vinegar and Sangiovese – Nebbiolo – Petit Verdot Vinegar). You soak the sugar cube with the vinegar as sugar is what cuts the acidity and then you have a minute to suck the vinegar from the cube. Absolutely fantastic vinegars! The first one is for the vinegar virgins – it’s soft and easy. The second one is full bodied and may cause you to cough, but I loved it for it’s complexity. We were then served locally grown salad, heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella, bread and for dessert, a plate of fruit (strawberries, grapes and persimmons) with Italian hard sheep-milk cheese and a Gorgonzola. So you are supposed to try the fruit with vinegar. The fruit is supposed to be like the sugar cube – the fructose cuts the acidity. We tried the hard cheese with vinegar as well, something I have never done but highly recommend. The pungent Gorgonzola was eaten with the blood orange and the lemon simple syrup. I love cheese and usually eat it as is, but I think I will always have to have these stinky cheeses with some flavoured simple syrup – it is indescribably addictive.

With a full belly, we head out to Cakebread Cellars, a small, unpretentious winery.

In the vineyard of Cakebread Cellars

We went with the $15 tasting, which included a Sauvingon Blanc, 2 Chardonnays, a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvingon and finally their Syrah. I really wanted to love their wines, but they did not blow my mind enough for me to make a purchase.

Next door was Sequoia Grove.

Tasting at Sequoia Grove

Sequoia Grove vineyard

I loved the fact that there was no appointment necessary or required tour   we went straight for the tasting. We tried their $20 Cab reserve tasting, which consisted of the 2004 to 2006 cabs. I actually could not finish my glass of 2005, thought the 2005 was really good and loved the 2004 which was mellow and velvety smooth. Sonya, I could imagine us having dinner and sharing a bottle of this stuff. Perhaps we can. Nelson agreed to the purchase of this 2005 Rutherford Bench Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh, did I mention that by this point, Nelson was beet red and I had to finish his glasses so that we could make it to our hotel? You’ll love the next couple pictures.

A short nap

Just a few more minutes....

Hope you are having a great time on your travels too!

Be safe,
Jaime

PS – If you decide to check out wineries in sunny California, be sure to visit Wally’s for coupons. We saved quite today thanks to him!

1 Comment
  • Sonya
    November 9, 2010

    JAIME!!
    A personal email to me, how sweet when I saw it. Even sweeter was the pictures of “nap-Nelson”…at first I thought he was doing some yoga twists, then I read about his beet red face and I had a good chuckle.

    Sounds like your wine tasting is on a roll, and mmm, Cabs!! Anyday missy, can that wine be found at the LCBO?

    China was grand, I’m still reeling from it.

    Son