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April 16, 2012

Napa Birthday Trip, Day 2

Day 2 of the birthday trip! So I forgot to mention the wineries we tried day 1, so I'll mention them here. Day 1 was Castello di Amorosa (which is actually owned and built by V. Sattui Winery which was on the agenda for day 2). The castle was very cool, and we opted to do the tour and wine tasting at the end. I just couldn't say no to a tour of a castle, I'm sorry. The tour was very cool and I highly recommend. The wine tasting at the end was very good as well. Even though we were only supposed to have 5 tastes, he was very nice to just pour less of each and give us pretty much whatever we wanted to try. I appreciate that when wine tasting, because if they're stingy with the wine, I'm less likely to find something I really like and less likely to buy something. 

I'm also going to mention that many of the wineries in Napa, and other wine areas have 2 for 1 tasting coupons, or 2 for 1 tour coupons. This was really nice for B and I because we saved a lot of money on the wine tasting itself by using these. They have them right on their websites, and every winery I've encountered has done the discount if I just mention it, or show them on my phone. No need to print it out. Which made it one less thing to forget about doing before we left.

I will preface my selection of my favorite wines from the castle by saying I do prefer white wines and especially sweeter wines, B tends to like reds. But, if we find a white or a red we both really like, we tend to buy it. I love wineries that can make a red I like, those are the kind of wineries I like. We both like Gewürztraminers and theirs at the castle was delicious, and their dry version as well. I ended up buying the Gewürztraminer, the Simpatica and their grape juice. Now, I don't know if you've ever tried grape juice from a winery, but if their wine is good, their grape juice will probably be the best grape juice you've ever tried! I highly recommend taking a taste if a winery offers it on their tasting menu. It may be expensive, but I bought two bottles of grape juice on this trip.

We decided to forgo breakfast out, and instead ate our continental breakfast at the hotel, because there were make your own waffles. And duh...we ate that. The next winery we tried on day 2 was Sterling Vineyards. They had a tram you took to the actual winery, and there were beautiful views of the Napa Valley, but their wine was unimpressive. We tasted, we enjoyed the view, but we didn't buy any wine there.

The next winery was V. Sattui. Now, I know of this winery in kind of a weird way. And you may have heard of it yourself, because I would say it's one of the top wineries in Napa wine country. Anyways, I know of it because I used to go hiking a lot, and whenever we went to a place near this winery, we would stop into their food shop/cheese shop they have there, and get a picnic lunch for the hike. Their cream cheese artichoke dip and a loaf of bread is a necessity if you're ever in there. They have all kinds of sandwiches, cheeses, samples, jams, and all the knick knacks you could ever want. So day 1 we got lunch here, but day 2 was for wine tasting! V. Sattui is now up there with my other favorite winery, South Coast. They are both wineries, where I could walk in, spin around, pick up a bottle of wine, and it would be delicious. 

Everything I tried at V. Sattui was delicious, and I wanted to take it all home. It took quite a bit of time to decide what I wanted to buy, but I finally decided on the Moscato, Gamay Rouge, their Gamay Rouge grape juice, and my splurge item was the Madeira. I had to pick one expensive dessert wine, and I almost couldn't decide between the Madeira and the Angelica, which is wine fortified with brandy. Also, their port is wonderful. I'm thinking of just joining the wine club at V. Sattui and South Coast and just be a happy girl forever.

After the wine, we were finally hungry enough to go get some lunch, at Gott's Roadside. We were trying to save as much room as possible for other meals in the day, so we just ordered one meal and split it. First, we tried the Dulce de Leche milkshake, which they happily split into two containers for us. It was delicious, and I could see myself wanting to try all their milkshake flavors, if and when I go back. I should mention they have other locations other than just Napa, including San Francisco.

We decided on the Spicy Chicken Sandwich, because we tend to like those wherever we go. I was surprised to see it grilled, because a spicy chicken is usually fried. It was very flavorful, and even better after I started pouring ranch on it : D

Their fries were perfect, and their ranch was very good. If a place has good ranch for my fries, I'm happy.

Then we headed out Mumm Napa, which is all sparkling wine. The tasting part was nice, they bring the wine to you, while you sit comfortably on their patio with winery views. What we tried was just their main tasting selection, and he gave us a few others to taste. We liked it overall, but once again didn't buy anything. Sorry, you have to really impress me, to buy a bottle. Life shouldn't be wasted on mediocre bottles of wine.

Next, we went over to the Bouchon Bakery. I'm not rich enough to enjoy a meal at the world famous French Laundry restaurant, but by golly I can enjoy a delicious pastry at the chef, Thomas Keller's bakery! B got an eclair, which he devoured before I got a photo, and I ordered a couple macaroons and a ho-ho. The ho-ho was light and creamy, and I really enjoyed it.

The macaroons were delightful. They were my first macaroons, and very good. I got a pistachio, caramel, vanilla, and an espresso. They were sort of how I imagined the perfect macaroon would be, without really knowing it. I have no idea if that makes sense, but they were just light and airy, crunchy at the first bite, the filling were creamy and tasted of quality ingredients.

We had some time to kill before our reservations at our dinner restaurant, Solbar. It's a Michelin Star restaurant and fairly inexpensive, so we had to go. It was way farther out of the way than we anticipated, and kind of in the middle of nowhere. But, we got there and realized we weren't quite hungry enough for a full dinner, so we sat in the lounge and ordered some appetizers, before heading back home. They've changed the menu since, but we ordered the Solbar Fries for starters, and it had a wonderful lime aioli to dip the fries into.

The next thing we decided on were the Korean Wings (which are also no longer on the menu). I wasn't thrilled with these, I think I was expecting something else, and for them to actually be spicy. They weren't spicy, and were more vinegary and sweet than I wanted in a wing.

The last thing we ordered were the Bacon-Cheddar Sliders with 10 hour caramelized onions. These were good, and the onions were delicious. But, I think we were a little too full to fully enjoy this meal. We got through it, but I think both of us could have gone without. 

Overall, the trip was a success, I came home with several bottles of wine, a full belly, and great memories. Cue the, awww. Anyways, B and I both had a lot of fun, discovered more wine we like, and I had a great birthday. Can't wait for number 24...there will definitely be more wine!

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