Napa Valley, Halloween Weekend, Day 2

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Well, after a good night’s sleep, we woke up, had a wonderful breakfast with the parents, and got ready for the day.

We had arranged with Tom D. from Vino Van Tours to take us around Napa (great recommendation from our cousins who had used him before).

It just so happened that one of my buddies was in CA on business, so he drove up and joined us for the day.

After meeting Tom, we headed out for Trefethen.

Trefethen.

We were going to do some sort of private tasting, but they couldn’t promise Tom anything specific because they were setting up for their big Halloween party.

Why does everyone love their big pumpkins out here?

Inside, they had the placed decorated from head to toe.

This is with flash. It was pretty dark and spooky in there.

I can't tell if he is saying "Don't touch my wine!" or "My precious!"

Here is one of the tasting guides. Creepy.

They had a nice tasting for $15. The dry riesling was especially nice, but we ended up buying their 2000 Library Chardonnay.

This lady walked by us, and we thought it was a real dog. She had her left hand in him operating the head, and it scared the crap out of us.

Awesome.

Very well decorated.

This is their barrel room with a flash.

Without flash. That ghost is pretty cool.

After heading out, my buddy was able to snap this picture of the family.

Who's that goofy guy on the left? (Looks like he's been drinking wine!)

Next up, Bell.

We had a few people reccommend Bell, and it was by far the best tasting experience we had.

The outside of Bell.

First thing, Tom walked us by one of their presses, which was actually pressing! (I’d never seen one in action before, just the sparkling clean ones just before or long after harvest.)

It took ALL of my willpower not to go lick the side of the press. Mmm. Wine...

Back in the tasting room. Sandra Bell (Owner/Cofounder) took care of us and poured us our first glass. We got to talk a little about a mutual friend. Very hospitable.

A bad picture of some of the shelves in the tasting room.

I was too busy enjoying myself to take more pictures, but they walked us through 5 wines, and had a cheese pairing for each one. They spent about an hour with us just talking about wine, answering some questions, and talking a little more about the history of the valley.

Nice private tasting room.

Then, I got a little camera-happy. I’m only going to show you one of the (maybe) ten picture I took of the tanks.

Fermentation tanks.

Next, Tom took us to a place called Cornerstone, which was a tasting room only in the middle of Yountville.

Nice little shopping center area.

Here’s the inside.

That's top, on the right (underneath the light).

I liked their logo.

We went a little out of order. First, the sauvignon blanc, then the ’05 Howell Mtn cab, then the ’05 Napa cab, then back to the ’04 Howell Mtn cab.

Nice menu.

Here’s the Sauvignon Blanc. They had bread (needed at this point) and olive oil. Very elegant setup.

Mmm. Bread.

Then, things got a little out of control. Wine everywhere.

We were having a good time.

Proof that we were really in Yountville.

Then, we insisted we sit down for lunch, we were all a little….hungry. Yeah, that’s it.

Doesn't that look delicious? (It was.)

Back on the road, here is Tom telling us the famous Mondavi brothers story.

This minivan had a mind of its own, though. I couldn't get the seat to unlatch, so Tom always had to walk around and get it for me. Must be "all in the wrist."

Here we are (after lunch) driving to Rubicon.

Rubicon is Francis Ford Coppola's place in Napa.

Nice entrance.

A few pictures of the scenery, for your viewing pleasure.

So pretty, even when it is overcast.

Pretty house.

Pretty road.

Here's the front of the winery.

The fountain and some vines.

More pretty.

A nice picture of the fountain.

I could tell you about the rich history of the building, but I won’t.

Nice stonework, though.

Looking toward the tasting area.

Guess who is camera happy.

Enough pictures, Andrew.

Another picture of the tasting bar?

Oh, there was a little room for Coppola’s stuff. I didn’t know that Nicolas Cage was his nephew. Huh.

Merh. I have one of those at home too. (no I don't).

This is an appropriately lit picture. Tom was telling us about his supernatural experience at this winery.

After Rubicon (the wines were good, but I think lunch ruined our palates, and we didn’t buy anything), we headed up to Howell mountain to Ladera. Awesome place.

Pretty mountainous winery.

A picnic would have been nice.

Nicely landscaped grounds.

Here's my buddy, desperately searching for his next Cab fix. Just kidding. (I liked Ladera, because they didn't feel like they had to have a gigantic pumpkin.)

More awesome stonework.

I guess this was a pretty driveway. Why did I take this picture?

I loved all of the winery doors.

Back at the hotel, we assessed the damage. 12 bottles. Not bad.

Mmm. It's going to be a good couple of weeks (or months) at home when we get back.

For dinner, we went to Farmstead. Very organic place (although they didn’t really sell that part well.)

This was after dinner (and wine), so sorry about the lighting.

Hey look! Andrew's getting artsy with his camera-work.

Day 3, coming soon.

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