I visited Napa Valley a few years ago while spending a week in San Francisco. Napa is actually not that far from the city by the bay. As this was the first time I had visited there, we went with a small group of people and a guide that has been there many times. We hit five great vineyards that day and tasted at each one. If anyone has not been to a wine tasting, you really should give it a try. It is a very relaxing time and a great way to meet people from all over the world. I quickly made a good friend with a young man who was from Vietnam, who was working in the IT field in San Francisco. My three favorites that day were Domain Chandon, Whitehall Lane and V. Sattui, which is where these shots were taken. V. Sattui is the oldest vineyard in the valley and is the only vineyard that is grandfathered to have a deli on grounds. Many years ago when Napa was gaining popularity, there was a battle between the local bed and breakfasts/ hotels, restaurants and the vineyards. Many of the vineyards were serving food and lodging, which was a source of contention to the other local businesses. In the end, the wineries were relegated to do what they do and the other businesses do what they do. V. Sattui was somehow grandfathered and allowed to keep their deli. We had a great lunch including antipasta, olives and a bottle of wine in their garden. The Sattui family also has olive vineyards in Italy and import fine olive oils and olives. They are very traditional in their methods and use only the finest barrels that are a specific wood from a specific forest. Whitehall Lane is the opposite, they are very modern and use stainless steel to ferment and age.. It was a great day, I can’t wait to get back there later this year.
Napa Valley, California is mecca for lovers of fine wine for a reason. Visitors from around the world flock to this wonderful place year round. There are hundreds of wineries and vineyards located all within a pretty close proximity. On a visit to the area, you will see a variety of people. Everyone from those that don’t even drink wine to those obsessed with it. Every nationality, age and demographic is represented. Visitors can explore the valley on their own with maps of the vineyards that are readily available. Or, they can visit with a tour group. On my first visit, I did the tour experience. The first winery we visited was V. Satui, one of the oldest vineyards in the valley. It is also the only winery that is grandfathered in to also have a deli. And what a deli it is, fresh cheeses, breads, anti-pasta and deli sandwiches. We ate lunch in the courtyard with a good bottle of wine, it was very relaxing. The other highlight of the tour was Domain Chandon, a sparkling wine (American version of Champagne) winery. This place is amazing, they also have an art institute and a culinary school on the premises. And the sparkling wine was incredible, the best I have tasted in my young wine courtship. If you are ever in the area, do not miss this wonderful slice of heaven.
The photo above was taken in one of the cellars at V. Satui. These aging barrels are a high tech science. They are made from a specific wood that only grows in one region in Europe. Once the barrels are assembled, the inside is charred to different specs for different wines. The wine is aged in these barrels for varying lengths of time to achieve different flavors. I loved the way the light and shadows worked with each other to bring out the natural colors of the wood.
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