29 April 2016

Napa Valley is best known for its fine sushi! Wait…maybe it was something else…fruit related. Yes, fine wines! With 400+ wineries in the valley, and over 200 tasting rooms, it seems as though everyone living in the Napa Valley area is part of the wine culture. Because we were on a road trip, we didn’t get the opportunity to spend as much time in Napa Valley as we would have liked, but we did spend most of a day, and what we learned was incredible!

Didn’t catch how we got here? Check out our previous post.

Napa’s Ristorante Allegria

First off, there is a ton of great food in Napa Valley. Ashlynn and I had dinner the night before at a fantastic Italian spot called Ristorante Allegria. The food was marvelous, and the wine was superb! Would you expect anything less in an area known for fine vintages? We started with the calamari, had some penne in a chipotle-basil sauce,  and pesto gnocchi, and finished the evening off sharing some lavender and orange creme brulee. We also shared a bottle of the valley’s finest Riesling. The atmosphere was wonderful. We were sitting in the courtyard of the restaurant as the sun was setting. It was very romantic.

Napa Valley Wine Tours

There are many reasons to visit Napa Valley, and when we return, we will spend time exploring more of these reasons. (Wine tasting, the wine train, castle tours etc.) With so little time to spend, we decided that we wanted to see and understand some of the history of wine making. We chose the tour at Beringer Vineyards for many reasons. First, it’s the oldest continuously operating vineyard in the valley. Mostly though, we chose it because of the breadth of knowledge imparted on the tour. We started by discussing various aspects of viticulture and how the different soil types affected the different grapes and eventually wines.

After discussing the soil types and seeing the grape vines and how they are trained, we went into the tunnels under the winery to see how the wine was stored! This included our first tasting of wine, a tasty Cabernet. What was truly incredible is that these tunnels were cut by hand into the hillside and extend for a few hundred feet with extensions going off in all directions! Wine needs a very steady environment for storage, and these tunnels provided the perfect space.

After a tour in the tunnels, we moved on to the part of the tour where we pair different foods with wines. This was very informative for most of us because it helped us understand how our palettes work in relation to foods and wines and how to bring the flavor out that we enjoy in the wines. Before this tour, I didn’t understand how food changes the taste of wine on the palette, but now I have a greater understanding of why certain wines are recommended to be paired with certain foods!

I recommend booking your winery tours pretty far in advance as they seem to fill up fast, even in the mornings and during the spring! What a great opportunity to visit some of the finest wineries in the country and see how they turn grapes into something spectacular!

Gott’s Roadside for some Fantastic Burgers

For lunch, we ate at one of the iconic burger joints of the valley called Gott’s Roadside. This 1950’s style burger place took you back to a time when they served fantastic burgers, cold milkshakes and hot fries from a roadside diner. Then we were off to northern California and Ashland’s Oregon Shakespear Festival the following day.