One of the many perks of living in the bay area is proximity to wine country. Last weekend I took advantage of this fact and spent a sunny afternoon in Napa. First, I must note that I much prefer Sonoma to Napa. While both are chalk full of tourists, the former seems to get the slightly less obnoxious variety and tastings that are more reasonably priced. If you want to feel like you are at a vineyard, go to Sonoma, if you want to feel like you are at a resort, complete with perfectly trimmed foliage and fancy fountains, Napa’s the place. Having said that, Napa does have its worthwhile charms.
My friends and I headed north with a cooler full of picnic goodies, ready to sample some vino. What we found was wineries that had the worst of Napa, and some that had the best. The first winery we hit was Artesia. It’s situated up high in the hills with stunning views and (yes) fancy fountains. Plenty of fancy fountains. The staff however was very down to earth and approachable, using colorful language (“this one is like a punch in the jaw”) and serving up the wine with a smile. Almost every wine I had there was delicious. Their dessert wine was to.die.for. Yum.
Our next stop was a bit of a disappointment. Plump Jack is well known in Napa, and they also are affiliated with some popular restaurants in San Francisco. Maybe that’s why the vibe there was a bit too cool for school. The guy pouring our wine seemed very uninterested and spouted off wine descriptions like a robot. Additionally, there was a tv inside the tasting room playing Jaws 2, which was both incredibly distracting and utterly unappetizing. Do you want to be looking at bloody shark attacks as you sip your Zinfandel? Didn’t think so.
Our third stop was the winery Clos du Val, rumored to have a great picnic area. We were looking forward to picking out a few bottles to buy and enjoy with our picnic. But then. The tasting room was extremely chaotic and loud, and the man pouring the wine seemed irritated that we were taking too long to chose a tasting. Then he proceeds to talk down to me when describing the wine. My friend asked him to tell us about the Pinot Noir we were tasting and he looked at us and said, “well do you know what a Pinot is?” Ok, I’m no wine connoisseur, but I worked in an Italian restaurant with an extensive wine list for a few years, so I know the basics. Don’t need the sass, thank you. I ask him how the Rose is and he answers, “pink”. Right. Well here is a better description for you dear readers: crap. Literally every wine I tried there was average at best. Poor service and mediocre wine. Feel free to skip this spot on your Napa tour.
The last winery we came across was Alpha Omega. Yes it was shiny and pretty (and it had a fountain), but the staff was incredibly friendly. Pauline, our host, took us through a delicious tasting, giving us a taste of 3 additional wines that weren’t even on the menu. She was attentive, gave great descriptions and recommendations, and made us feel super welcome. Downside: tastings are expensive, $20. Upside: tasting fee is waived with the purchase of a bottle. We got a few bottles of sauvignon blanc (crisp and refreshing) and one bottle of rose (fruity, but dry) and sat in the sunshine on one of their many picnic tables sipping, and eating and having a grand ‘ol time. Gold star for Alpha Omega. What are your favorite Napa spots?
Filed under Beverage, Flora