A third trip to Napa Valley this year was planned for the weekend before Memorial Day. This time the group consisted of one of my best friends, aka my Pandemic Partner (PP), and our friend, Walter, who works in the restaurant industry. Girls’ trips are common for me and it was a welcomed change to show my fellow wine lover friends how I do wine country. It was their first time going with me and definitely not the last.
My PP had this idea about wine tasting – that you’ll never get to try the good stuff. Well, we definitely did and our group can tell what will just get better with time. He also likes Old World wine and merlots. He has been wine tasting in California before and he was expecting big cabs all day long. I am happy to say he was pleasantly surprised. Walter was just happy to come along and is a little less fussy.
I booked an affordable hotel room for us to share. We stayed at the Springhill Suites in Napa. This Marriott Certified Travel Agent had to keep racking up my points! Given my long, 6-week stay in Louisville at the same hotel, I knew it was going to be spacious. With the hotel booked, I planned our wine tasting itinerary.
I always recommend having a good breakfast and book wine tasting appointments at 1 and 3 pm. Always save a favorite winery til the end of day so you can relax and enjoy the grounds until they ask you to leave or have to make your dinner reservation. No one likes to rush from place to place.
Before our first stop, we had to get some food. I decided we go to the Oxbow and see what we can find. Options are good and they offered plenty. We definitely needed coffee though. While Walter got coffee, I ordered us two pizzas and a salad. We love Delfina Pizzeria in Palo Alto so I’m sorry pizza joints, you have competition. The food was great and the boys were pleased. Walter said he never thought of having pizza before wine tasting and decided it was a good idea. Your stomach has a nice, carb filled lining to receive the alcohol.
When you go to the Oxbow on a weekend, prepare yourself for a busy parking lot and allow yourself enough time to use the restroom and leave in time to make your wine tasting appointment. As an Event Planner, tardiness is a pet peeve of mine and as your Travel Agent, I will always pad your itinerary.
Our first winery was Tres Sabores. I have known Julie Johnson, the owner, winemaker and Co-Founder of Frog’s Leap for a few years. It was nice to return to the winery after so many years. I believe the first time I went was in maybe 2013. The boys really enjoyed the grounds and of course, the wine. If you’re a dog lover like PP and I, be sure to say hello to the three pups on site. The lovely welcome note and private table close to the vines made it really special.
Walter is from Ecuador and when Julie mentioned Quito and the logo being from a bowl of Ecuadorian artwork, it was an instant connection. It sounds like we need to go to Ecuador, Walter! Bottles were purchased and hugs were given upon our departure. I am glad the boys enjoyed themselves.
Next was Venge. I met Kenny at Ghost Block Winery the previous trip to Napa. He told the girls and I about Venge. I haven’t heard of it so I had to go! The ride along the Silverado Trail is also preferred over the main highway.
Venge was closed off behind a gate. With a click of the button on the intercom, Kenny buzzed us in. The tasting room felt more like a welcoming and comfortable home with a wraparound balcony overlooking the vines in Calistoga. It was very modern. Our hightop table was perfect. I let my guy pals face the vineyards so they can enjoy the view. I come up to wine country often so it’s likely I’ll be back before they would be.
The wines were a mix but all delicious. Kenny took very good care of us and it was nice to have him relax after we invited him to join us at our table. The service didn’t need to be so formal. More bottles were purchased.
We were ready to eat. A favorite spot of mine that has outdoor seating is Goose & Gander. I have been here a few times and it has always been good. We were sat outside on a gorgeous day and ordered what seemed like everything on the menu plus a bottle of wine not from California. We had the octopus, chicken and the pig ears to name a few. If you continue to read my blog, know I have developed a pig ears obsession. And these were tasty. We also had dessert. It was a good day.
My friend from another winery was hanging out with coworkers around the corner and invited us to stop by after dinner. It was a dive bar with plenty of room to dance and dollar bills covering the high ceiling. We had a couple of shots, danced, met new winery folks and experienced Napa Valley nightlife. But we were ready to head out. The car singing boy band tunes will be a memory I will never forget.
We continued heading south to our hotel and called it a night. We still had Day 2 of wine tasting to go at Heitz Cellars and Caymus. Stay tuned for more!