Napa

Time to Stomp on the Grapes

There is no time quite like fall at a winery.  The grapes are ripe and being harvested.  New wines are revealed.  All around you, the leaves are changing in a display worthy of a state with actual seasons.

Fall is a great time to settle down with a nice cup of red and start preparing for winter.  It is also a great time to check out winery events!

If you have money to spare, and you are looking for a fall winery party, I would check out V. Sattui’s Crush Party.  Alas, I do not have money to spare, so I cannot go nor have I been in the past, but it looks like a lot of fun.  They take you through the wine production process with a good, old-fashioned grape crushing…with your bare feet.  There’s really nothing quite like people telling you it’s OK to squish a giant vat of grapes by stomping on them.

Watch and tell me this doesn’t look like a ton of fun:

Fall also means passport days are upon us!  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is winery passport days, this is the time when you can try any winery you choose for a flat rate.  Wineries that generally do not do tastings are open and all sorts of special stuff can be found like barrel tastings and food pairings and vineyard tours and unique wines not generally available to the public.  Passports are split up by region, so take a look at where your favorite wineries are and mark your calendars!

Around these parts, we have…

Santa Clara Valley                        October 5 – 6                        $30
Santa Cruz Mountains                  November 16                        $45
Napa and Sonoma also have a continual passport deal.  For details, see sonomapassport.com and napavalleypassport.com.

Harvest Festivals abound this time of year as well in all parts of wine country.  The big wineries all have their own, but check out these to see a bunch of wineries at once:

The Sonoma County Harvest Fair encompasses three days worth of wine tastings from over 150 wineries, complete with food, demonstrations, seminars, and a FREE grape stomping competition.

If you’re looking for something a little more wine-centric, Reserve Sonoma Valley offers special peeks at wineries generally closed to the public along with food pairings and winery tours.

Of course, there are tons more harvest and fall events all across Northern California, so be sure to check with favorite vineyards for their festivals.  Which fall wine events are you favorites?

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Categories: Bay Area, Bay Area Day Trips, Food, Local Travel, Napa, Northern California, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How I Discovered Wine at V. Sattui

Once long ago upon a time, I was 21 and wide-eyed.  I knew nothing of the world of wine that did not end in a wine-soaked whine.  “What is this swill?,” I was heard to say.  I had never had good wine those days.

Then an anniversary came our way along with a graduation day.  “Let’s go to Napa!” was all we could say.

And my world turned upside-down.

I had been 21 for barely half a year when I visited Napa for the first time.  Having come to drinking late in life (as in waiting to do it legally…mostly), I had yet to disabuse myself of the notion that alcohol tastes yucky.  At that point, my forays into the world of alcohol mostly consisted of fruity or chocolatey cocktails and cider, the latter only because my drinking education began in Great Britain where I was of legal age before my 21st birthday (Strongbow rules!).  I hated beer and wasn’t much happier with the wine options I had partaken of so far.

Thank the (wine) gods I consulted my wine connoisseur uncle before my trip!  I may never have found V. Sattui otherwise.

It was the first stop we made, and it opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Clearly, I had never had good wine up until this point.  V. Sattui changed everything.  For the first time, I tasted wine I not only tolerated but actually liked!  A lot!  So much so that even in our fund-deprived state, we bought four bottles between V. Sattui and its sister winery, Castello di Amorosa.  At the time, that was A LOT of wine for me, especially at Napa prices.

It was all so good that I had trouble choosing which bottles to bring home.  The Sauvignon Blanc was crisp and fresh, but the Off-Dry Riesling had that hint of sweetness and the Dry Gewurzstraminer that bold dessert flavor.  The Gamay Rouge had such unique strawberry accents, but could it compare to the sweet perfection of La Fantasia?  Not to mention the true dessert wines like the Madeira and the Port with strong flavors and subtle mellowing aspects that make these wines a delight for the taste buds.

Tasting Room
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These wines made me realize that with the right varietals and the right care, wine could be great.  I didn’t want to drink to get drunk, I wanted it for the flavors.

I was hooked.  The wines alone would have done for me, but pourers helped make the experience come alive.  They were all very helpful, very informative, and very liberal, allowing us to try extras when we just couldn’t choose or when they found something they thought we would like.

Picnic Grounds
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By the end of our trip, we had tried a wide variety of their wines as well as three food pairings and loved every minute.

And so began a life-long love of wine tasting.

Categories: About, Bay Area Day Trips, Local Travel, Napa, Northern California, Wine | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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