Napa: Wine Tasting Lessons & Anniversary Celebrations

Last week we took a vacation to Napa wine country and had a grand time touring the beautiful countryside; we found the wineries to be very approachable and proud of their wine heritage.  We joined my sister, Cheryl, and her husband, Ron, and tasted some mighty fine California wines.  Most of our tastings were paired with cheeses that enhanced the flavors of the wines.  I consider myself to be a novice consumer who drinks wines that I’m familiar with, but always open to new recommendations.  During the various tastings, I learned that the nuances and flavors of wine are personal and there are no rules (see my About page for more on that one) – buying decisions should be based on what excites your palette.  Both David and I realized that we had already determined our flavor preferences: wines with less tannins (dryness, tartness) and a supple mouth feel that is velvety and full flavored (fruit-forward is good).  We found that if we stick with those criteria then we rarely go wrong, especially when it’s an investment.  At one winery, we tasted about five different wines that Cheryl & Ron cooed over but David and I didn’t taste the same love.  We would catch each other’s eye and give a quick signal for no; thankfully (and sometimes surprisingly) we were always on the same page. 

Pictures: Wine barrels with character (from the top-offs spilling over), a stained glass window off the beaten path at Robert Mondavi, and lots of barrel storage at Rodney Strong.

Wow!  Can you believe we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary?  Cheryl and Ron took us to dinner at Tra Vigne  in St. Helena where we feasted on some incredible meals made from local food.  We all devoured the appetizer, a house-made mozzarella which was heated through, sliced table-side and served over mouth-watering crostini of Ciabatta flavored with olive oil, garlic and sea salt.  It tasted so fresh and is one I will never forget.  Sneaky Cheryl and Ron surprised us with a moan-worthy bottle of 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, a favorite that we had added to our own collection from an earlier tasting.  The evening was magical with great food, laughter, wine and family (and my honey). 

When in doubt, have a picnic!  David is plating up some peppered salami with green and black Cerignola olives, Castelvetrano olives, some sweet French bread, deliciously creamy Mt. Tam cheese and Highway One cheese.  It all went perfectly with a superb 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Heibel Ranch Vineyards.  Life is good!  We shall have fond memories to reminisce about when we enjoy our new wines at home.

Here are some of our favorite wineries:
Jordan
Trefethen
Franciscan
Robert Mondavi
Heibel Ranch Vineyards  (don’t miss the 4WD back country tour from Trent) Take a load off  and 

Remember to let it all hang out every once in a while…..

Cheers to you.  Eat well and share the love! 

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6 responses to “Napa: Wine Tasting Lessons & Anniversary Celebrations

  1. The food looked wonderful and have me craving for my own trip to the Napa area. Being a wine novice, it is great to get advice from “experts” like you, Ron and Cheryl.

  2. Cheryl Hogate Johns

    Lovely post. You and David are wonderful travel companions and such fun to be around! You captured the essence of the Healdsburg/Napa area and the wineries we visited just the way I would have described it. Wasn’t it great mixing the cheeses in the olive oil and then tasting the wines?! A new trick to add to our tasting arsenal. We are looking forward to our next trip to wine country – with the two of you of course!!

  3. Very nice write up on your anniversary Napa tour. Great pic of you and David too!

  4. Looks like you enjoyed Napa. It’s such a fun place to visit and the wines and food are great. Again Happy Anniversary to you both.

  5. Love your write up on your trip. What a treat for you two and congrats on your 21st anniversary!

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