Wine Country Shenanigans - Day 3

November 9th, 2013

What I tend to forget is that most of what makes up Napa is just agriculture.  It's farming.  In the drunken stupor that follows the wine tastings (for some folks...I'm doing better than I thought I might.  Then again, there is the Mom Factor.  I don't need to be hammered around Mom), you tend to forget that when all is said and done, without the farming, we wouldn't be drinking this glorious nectar.

I decided against taking NyQuil last night.  The Demon Cold seems to have broken, so now I'm really just dealing with my pulled back situation.  The problem though is without the NyQuil, I'm waking up at my normal time.  Chicago time.  Which man...this is not helpful on West Coast time.  So I'm up at 5a just twiddling my thumbs.  Or playing Candy Crush.  Or writing a blog.  No matter what, being up at 5a blows when you could sleep in.

We started with waffles for breakfast.  And they were good.  No champagne (again), but I don't regret this decision.  Lots of wine has been consumed.  And for the most part, I've stayed sober.  I'm hoping to keep this streak going.  Partially cause I don't want to be "that girl" on the trip, but partially cause I have other things I want to get done in the next few days and don't need to be sicker than how I started out this trip. Today, we had three stops.  Again.  And they were so very different than what we did yesterday.

Winery #1 - Domaine Carneros Winery

Driving up to the Domaine Carneros Winery was an experience.  It is completely understandable why everyone stops their car, clogs up traffic, and takes pictures in front of this beautiful estate.  It's simply breathtaking.  We did the same thing.  But in a 30 person bus.  

Our guide met us as we made our way up to the entrance.  Yesterday, we were greeted in each place with a glass of something.  Today...nothing.  Our guide took about 15 minutes to explain the topography and point out how grapes are grown (while we were standing next to the vines) and give us a history lesson of the family who started this winery.  That's great and all, but we were boiling in the sun.  As we left Yountville, it was cold.  We were bundled up.  And at the winery, the sun was beating down.  Not to mention, this group needs a drink in their hands at all times.  Soon enough, we were able to duck inside, where we started drinking champagne.  Well...sparkling wine.

At Domaine, we tasted three different sparkling wines.  This was a nice change of pace from the day before, where the reds were so very heavy.  The wine here was nice.  I'd have preferred it a bit sweeter.  Especially since they were tasting a sparkling rose.  Mom and I got all excited with this one.  When we were in France last year, we were greeted at a restaurant with a glass of an amazing rose champagne.  Sweet and lovely, I've been looking to recreate that drink ever since.  And...this was not it.  Bummer.

We walked through their processing plant, drink in hand, and made our way to a bar area where we could sit and relax.  And buy wine.  Neither Mom or I are too keen on buying wine here.  It's expensive and I don't want to ship it home.  Plus, no need.  There isn't anything (yet) that's knocked my socks off and made me want to spend the money.  We had a final taste of a Pinot Noir, and were off to lunch.

Winery #2 - Artesa Vineyards and Winery

While Flora Springs from yesterday may have been the prettiest winery on the tour, I think Artesa is where my favorite wine (so far) has lived.  As with the Domaine Carneros, Pinot Noir is the flavor of the day.  So I'm a very happy girl.  We drove up to the winery and it is a very contemporary location.  Our guide, Mary, said they have an artist in residence and it shows.  The building is set up on the top of a hill, so it overlooks everything.  The colors are so fall-ish and makes up for the fall colors we never quite saw in Chicago this year.

Our first stop in the winery was for lunch.  Wine was already poured and we dug in quick.  Before we even got up for our buffet lunch (amazing sandwiches), most of us were pouring another glass of the Pinot.  So much so that the waiter brought us another bottle.  Which we proceeded to down.  Quickly.  There was a bottle of Chardonnay, but that one wasn't touched too much.

After lunch, the tour happened.  At this point, we kind of know the process of wine making, so we zoned out a little.  It is interesting to see that the process in each place is pretty much the same.  There are just the various tweaks winery by winery

Winery #3 - Saintsbury Winery

At Saintsbury, they didn't even bother with explaining the process of making wine.  We walked in and in the barn was a large table set for all of us.  And for the first time (in a non-lunch serving stop), they had nibblies for us.  A full-on charcuterie plate.  And it was highly appreciated.  It almost skyrocketed them to the top of the list of stops we had in the last two days.  The guide at the winery was originally from Orlando, so that endeared him to the group.

The wines at Saintsbury were pretty tasty.  We started with a Pinot Noir/Pinot Gris blend.  A Rose, if you will.  It was an excellent start.  We had a super buttery Chardonnay, then several different Pinot Noirs.  I was marginal on the Pinots.  But I loved the winery and the vineyard.  As we left, we snagged a few grapes still on the vine for good measure.

This was a good last stop for us.  

Mom and I pretty much hung out in the room for a while before dinner.  Our dinner was scheduled at 845p, so we had a while to hang.  The surprise in Yountville is there isn't a ton of shopping on the main drag.  When we've been falling asleep at 9p, a late dinner is a slight problem.  We were laying on the bed, watching TV and falling asleep.  It was finally time to leave for dinner and I don't think Mom was too thrilled that we were just now heading out.

Yountville is heavy with amazing restaurants.  And Thomas Keller reigns supreme.  We had lunch the other day at Addendum.  And we were going to have dinner tonight at Ad Hoc.  

Ad Hoc's premise is simple.  It's a set price of $52 per person for dinner.  The menu is announced earlier in the afternoon and the meal is served family style.  Tonight's menu included a salad with wheat berries, a flank steak, a cheese course and a s'mores trifle.  We decided against wine.  I told the server we were about wined out.  His response, "It happens a lot."  Seriously, the wine here has nearly broken me.  I either need to up my tolerance (I didn't think this was even possible) or I just stay broken.

The meal itself was very good, but more food than we needed.  I liked the concept of the restaurant itself.  But if you don't like a certain food, you're a little hosed.  I'd definitely like to do this again.  The price isn't overwhelming and the portions are plentiful.  Next time, I might want to not have a massive meal for lunch before going though.

We laughed at the sign for the day's meal.  It was for Log!  Which meant I spent the whole time singing the Log Song in the restaurant.  Mom didn't know about Log!  And neither did the lady next to us in the restaurant.  Her date had to explain it.  Log! is a very specific reference, so it's not a huge surprise.  But...Log!

Our hotel is across the street from Ad Hoc, so it didn't take long to get home and get ready for bed.  We had an early morning scheduled.  A very early morning...

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