Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wine Country Trip: Part 2 Napa

Recently returned from a 5 day trip to the California wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties. This was a personal/pleasure trip with professional overtones (and perks), as my husband is "in the trade". Splitting the trip review into 4 sections:
Part 2. Napa
While both areas produce great wine, enjoy an excellent climate, are incredibly beautiful, and have more than their share of wonderful restaurants; there is a slightly different feel to the two counties. Sonoma has more of the agrarian, and almost hippy feel; while Napa seems more upscale. Or nouveau riche or something. Both are great in their own way. I'd be content living in either.

So, it seemed appropriate that upon leaving the quaint Korbel vineyard house in Sonoma, we would spend the next two nights at the BV Rutherford House...or better put mansion. The Rutherford House is a 10,000 sq foot mansion Chateau and Estates (owners of Beaulieu Vineyards) uses for hospitality and training.

The first floor is set up for entertaining, wine tasting and other large public events.

The second floor contains five guest suites, a communal living/relaxing space and office/work area. We were staying in the BV suite - others were the Carneros suite, de Latour suite, Hewitt suite, Sterling suite and Rutherford suite. All names rich in Napa culture (not to mention Chateau and Estates wines).

I loved the kitchen and outside spaces.

We had this all to ourselves. Literally. The security guard had given us keys to the house and our suite when we arrived on Wednesday, and did not see another person in the house until we were loading the car Friday morning.

In our previous 2 nights at Korbel we'd discovered some great local cheeses (both in our well stocked kitchen and at the Duck Club), and in addition to bringing the leftovers from Korbel, we'd made a stock-up run at a fabulous market in Sebastopol in Sonoma county - Andy's Produce. Each night I'd put together a wine and cheese tray, and we'd debate front veranda or back deck. The veranda won. I mean, how could it not with this view.

We enjoyed some great meals in Napa. Breakfast each morning at Pacific Blues, outside of which I noticed this delivery truck. And was able to enjoy my fav, Blue Moon with lunch at Hurley's. Where I devoured the two course "Vintners special" of a watermelon feta salad and fettuccine with diver scallops and a saffron cream sauce. OH my. But the most memorable meal of the whole trip was at Chef Michael Chiarello's Bottega. Yes, I admit to being a Top Chef fan girl - and this will make my 3rd "master's" restaurant meal. The short ribs were to die for. Amazing. I must go back. Not to mention I earned a foursquare Top Chef badge for checking in here. BONUS!

We only visited one winery in Napa - Provenance Vineyards. Having the opportunity to taste 3 vintages of Hewitt vineyard Cabernet side by side. Yum. A bottle of the incredible 2006 Hewitt Cabernet followed us home as did their Winemakers Reserve Blend and a couple of bottles of the estate Sauvignon Blanc. Great stuff - plus their Director of Winemaking, Tom Renaldi, is an avid cyclist , both mountain and road. In fact one of our servers was telling us how Tom was trying to organize a ride from Napa to Tahoe. Now that would be one heck of a ride! We may not be up to such a ride - but a couple of Provenance Vineyard bike jerseys also made their way into our suitcases.

The rest of our Napa days were spent on both Sonoma and Napa. We'll get to that in part 4. Next up the gardens.......

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