Oh, Man, what a year. From our first trial trip to Los Angeles County with Bevo, my late Boston Terrier to down under in Melbourne, Australia and 15-days straight of each other on the Golden Princess, my roommate and I remain among the living. We haven’t killed each other yet. We actually have had a lot of laughs and she’s made many appearances on this blog, in case you haven’t noticed. On her first official day home, I walked into the house and Snap’d as I entered the door. “This is Kim! Everyone’s going to know Kim.” She waves to the camera. I’m glad she’s not camera shy. We celebrated many laughs by having more laughs in wine country that is the Napa Valley.
As a Blogger and in the food and wine, media and travel industry, I typically get the industry discount of complimentary tastings. Kim has grown accustomed to that. I have spoiled her and now she could never go wine tasting with anyone else. As I have goal of hitting as many California wineries as possible, I warned her that I was going to plan our Roommate Anniversary with visiting wineries where appointments are necessary and we may not get a discount. She OK’d the itinerary. On the schedule was Hyde, Saintsbury and Etude. All are wineries located in the Carneros region and was mentioned in my Napa Valley Wine Expert Certification course. All were wineries I have never been to.
It was a long weekend in terms of activity. A sexy male friend came over and made me dinner Friday night and we stayed up until 4 AM. Don’t you love it when a man feeds you? This foodie does! A slight hangover remained throughout Kim’s Susan G. Koman Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser in Fremont and a bit thru a Nobody’s Perfekt fundraiser at Cleophus Quealy Brewery in San Leandro. A nap afterwards turned out to be bed time to get ready for more drinking the next day.
We hit the road at 9 AM because it gets busy heading up to Napa thru American Canyon. Our first appointment was at 11 AM at Hyde. We arrived, drove thru the open gates to the property and the doors were locked. We waited in the car until it was closer to 11 AM. Maybe they don’t open the doors unless they have appointments. We tried the doors again when it was time. Still locked. We went back to the car to stay warm. I checked my email and realized I never send in my credit card to create the reservation. Doh! I can plan the heck out of a wedding or launch products anywhere in the country or plan a detailed travel itinerary, but when it comes to my personal life, I don’t put in the same effort. Are you the same? Oh well. Hyde will not be added to my winery log this time.
Back in the car, I thought I would wing it and run into a winery we can visit. Most we came across needed reservations. We passed Saintsbury and kept going. That was going to be stop number two. I have been to Bouchaine and ended back up at what was Liana Estates, then L.E. and now Calmere Estate Winery. I love this place. I have been there twice before. Once on a rainy birthday visit with my good friend, Nikki, and the other time via a tour I sold with my #Instafriend. Both, good times.
We walked up the barrel with a host and they asked if we had reservations. Again, reminded that I failed in making reservations! They squeezed us in with an appointment in two minutes. Technically, the space requires them and apparently it depends on the region. Oh, Carneros, why do you make it so difficult? We were given freedom to sit where we wished. I picked the love seat on the patio closest to the view and in the sun a bit. It was a bit breezy and the sun kissed our skin.
We enjoyed our time, chatted, talked things out that were on my mind, etc. Our host and I geeked over wine, beer, whisky, food and the whole industry. He ran restaurants and was burnt out. Pouring wine at a winery was a nice change of pace but like me, he also missed the rush. He asked if I would ever want to open a restaurant again. My answer remains the same, “Only if it was in Hawaii.” Of course, travel talk came about and I gave him my card.
We were having such a good time that I had to call our next winery to let them know we were going to be on our way shortly. Thankfully, they understoood. We said our goodbyes but not before we took three bottles with us. We went over to Saintsbury.
It was another outdoor tasting area under large trees and near low fences protecting gardens surrounding the circular tables equipped with menus and bread sticks. If you have the group size to sit at the 6-top closest to the vines under an orange umbrella, you’d be in luck. Friendly service, beautiful grounds and of course, non-stop conversation. We left without bottles and headed off to the next stop, Etude.
Etude was very close by and the wind started to pick up. There is plenty of parking and you get to the main entrance of the tasting room walking along the lawn and thru the outdoor patio. Inside, the counter is to your left and many high top tables for three or four are scattered around under high ceilings. The brightness of the room is not as nice as the natural light that we were enjoying but it was clean and modern. A private tasting room is also available in the back. By this time, we were feeling pretty good and getting silly. Michael, our pourer, was handling it all very well.
Getting hungry, we decided to make reservations at Charlie Palmer’s Steak downtown Napa. Parking was easy to find and the restaurant was pretty quiet for a Sunday night. Was it because everyone is having Game of Thrones viewing parties for the premiere? Warriors playoffs? I had a salad, an 8-ounce filet mignon and the potato gratin. My appetite has not recovered from the liquor-filled weekend. I didn’t put my steak away like I know I could. Kim even at more than I did!
Let me help you plan your wine country itinerary, along with hotels, possibly the Wine Train experience and more.