Our last full day in Napa left us with another important lesson, make friends with your limo driver. We went with a hired car for our second and third days of tastings so everyone could fully enjoy. Maybe we just got lucky but our limo driver, Bruce, really went above and beyond to make our Napa experience unforgettable.
Our first stop on day three was this bunker that also houses Opus One.
It’s an institution. You go, you buy your glass of wine, take in the scenery and buy a bottle to save for a special future occasion. Our bottle will be enjoyed on a to be determined wedding anniversary.
Our second stop was where the magic started to happen. We weren’t even supposed to go to Goosecross Cellars, but another winery didn’t pan out. Turns out that our limo driver knew one of the folks in charge of the place and introduced us. The winery was finishing up a complete renovation and conducting tastings in one of those fancy-ass trailers but with Bruce’s help we got a little sneak peak at the new production facility and tasting room even before they were open to the public. The wine was also good, but that was just sprinkles on the vegan doughnut at that point.
*We shipped bottles home and joined the wine club here.
Without knowing it we built in a little breather for ourselves with an olive oil tasting at Round Pond Estate. This was no ordinary tasting though where you basically just chug oil, this one featured actual small bites using the oils and vinegars produced by the winery. My favorite part, they send you home with all of the recipes.
*I shipped home bottles of the Blood Orange Olive Oil and Sangiovese-Nebbiolo Blend Red Wine Vinegar.
While we were eating, our limo driver was working his magic and by the time we were done had us set up with two more tastings for the afternoon.
The first was at Kelham Vineyards, a drop-dead gorgeous private vineyard in St. Helena. We were warmly welcomed and enjoyed our tasting out in the plentiful sunshine on the patio. This particular winery keeps their wines longer than any other in Napa, so by the time you get them you don’t have to wait as long for them to age.
Our tasting was conducted by none other than the founder, Mrs. Susanna Kelham herself. A superbly generous host, she made us feel right at home. As we were leaving she presented Rob’s mom with three Gerard Puvis prints (the artist behind the winery’s label), one for Rob and each of his brothers. It was an exceptionally sweet touch and left an incredible impression on everyone. Don’t believe everything you hear about Napa, particularly that it’s totally commercial and full of snobs. Our experience was anything but.
*We shipped bottles of rose and cabernet sauvignon home and joined the wine club here.
Del Dotto Vineyards was our next and final stop for the day. The tastings there are all conducted in wine caves adjacent to the main hall and the wine you taste comes straight out of barrels. I will admit we were all pretty dang tipsy at this point, but it was a fun experience. Another highlight was the charcuterie and pizza they served us after the tasting. Something to know before you go, we heard from several locals that the motto here is “get blotto at Del Dotto” (wink wink).
Funnily enough, or maybe not surprisingly, after all that wine everyone was really craving steak for dinner. Press was the last great recommendation our limo driver made before we parted ways and that is where we headed for the evening. Everyone enjoyed their steak dinner and the communal sides that we ordered for the table. The meal was a little on the quieter side though. It could have been the rather large table we were seated around, forcing us to compete with the rest of the restaurant noise, but I think we were all a little lost in thought. There were a lot of memories we needed to let soak in.
After three incredible days in Napa Valley, we were headed back to San Fransisco in the morning by way of Muir Woods.0