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Wining + Dining: Napa Girl’s Trip Part II

Posted Feb 15 2013 3:28pm

Happy Friday! We had a low-key Valentine’s Day celebration last night that featured beer and burgers followed by champagne and Downton Abbey, because we are classy while watching such a show, of course. We’re nearly done with season one and as hooked as everyone who watches.

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I picked up a bottle of Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvée so that Bobby could experience one of the many tastes from Napa, and I think he enjoyed it as much as I did. Speaking of Napa, I’d love to share more about Mama Bender and my first full day of winery madness!

Note: Before this post is over, you may think that I am up to my eyeballs in wine, but I promise I made it out the other side – and without a headache, too. ;)

We woke up bright and early at the Silverado Resort , which was also a honeymoon find . Compared to many of the other places to stay, the prices are reasonable (especially during the off season) and you can’t beat the atmosphere, either.

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This time around, Mama Bender and I stayed in another area of the resort that happened to be right on the golf course. We didn’t bring our clubs but we certainly were tempted to play.

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We opted for wine this time, though. For our first big day in Napa, we decided to play it smart and booked a reservation with California Wine Tours . Our driver was Michele Mitcavish, and I can’t say enough great things about her. Not only did she get us from place to place, but she also knew a lot about the history of Napa and the various wineries we went to. Plus, she was just a lot of fun.

Our first stop of the day took us into the mountains. Chappellet is a beautiful winery nestled on Pritchard Hill, with views of the valley and lake that will take your breath away.

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The tasting room takes you into this carefully concealed building that is made to blend in with the environment. We were led straight back into a room full of oak barrels to begin enjoying Chappellet wines with three other groups.

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Honestly, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Everything we sampled was amazing! I enjoyed many of the wine club offerings, but the Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon were two that particularly stood out. We enjoyed learning about the history of the winery over the course of the 45-minute tasting and getting to know the other people at the table. It can be such a small world sometimes.

Next up: Caymus Vineyards .

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Here we were served a selection of wines paired with cheeses, which makes for an even more amazing tasting. Whoever said pairing wine with food will heighten the flavor of the wine was right. Once again, I found myself liking both Cabernet Sauvignons .

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After Caymus, we took a break from wine tasting for some lunch at Farmstead , which highlights local, sustainable and organic ingredients. You can count us in.

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True to the spirit of the day, we shared a glass of Frog’s Leap Chardonnay .

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We started out with one of the most interesting dishes I’ve ever had: “potted” pig with homemade mustard and toast. It was absolutely delicious, but I couldn’t figure out what the white creamy texture was on top of the pig…until I learned it was lard.

Oh. Makes sense. Still, the pork and the mustard were amazing together, and the lard definitely brought out the flavor even if we used it a bit more sparingly after the fact. ;)

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For lunch we shared an order of potato gnocchi with LMR beef ragu, herbs and Parmesan cheese, as well as a side order of cheddar biscuits with honey butter. When in Napa, you must live it up, and everything was incredible.

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Soon it was time to meet Michele and head to our next winery: Duckhorn .

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The tasting room was beautifully lit – so open and airy, with the option of sitting inside or out. My parents are huge fans of Duckhorn already, and it was nice to try a few more of their varietals. This time, I really enjoyed the Merlot .

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As we left Duckhorn en route to our final stop of the day, we passed the iconic Napa Valley sign and had to stop for a quick photo. I’m in love with the phrase, “…and the wine is bottled poetry…”

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Last but not least on our big day o’ wineries: Castello di Amorosa !

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This was one of my favorites from our honeymoon , and my mom couldn’t wait to see it.

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Although the tour we had was slightly disappointing compared to the experience I had previously, it was still cool to walk through this Italian castle and see the various dining rooms, torture chambers (yes, you read that right) and areas where the barrels are kept.

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After sampling a few more wines, we made our way back to Silverado and recovered rested up a bit before venturing back out to Brix for dinner. This restaurant is another Napa staple that features insanely delicious bread and salted butter to start.

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Mama Bender and I decided to continue our theme of sharing to avoid feeling too full. We started out with an order of mussels, which came in a delicious white wine broth.

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We also shared the butter lettuce salad, which was topped with goat cheese, marcona almonds and a tangerine vinaigrette. It really hit the spot after a day of heavy foods…and a lot of wine tasting.

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For dinner, we shared a Cabernet-braised lamb shank served over a red wine and smoked goat cheese risotto, along with rosemary potatoes. We ultimately had to bring some of it home with us for later, but I can promise that what we did eat was amazing.

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Our first full day in Napa drew to a close. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, better wineries or better company. And I look forward to sharing more about Sonoma in my next post!

Have you ever been to “wine country,” whether in California or elsewhere?

Abrazos,

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