Napa Wine Tour

It wasn’t just Cate & Co. doughnuts that made me fall in love with Napa. It was also the beautiful landscape, the passion the winemakers have for their craft, and the wine. Oh my, the wine.

Chaz booked us a tour through Platypus Wine Tours because they offered a gluten-free lunch option. Our tour guide was amazing and told us about the types of wines we’d be tasting that day (mostly reds). He also taught us how swirl the red wine in our glasses to aerate it and to go over the top of the glass to smell the wine.

I was still under the weather, coughing a lot, really groggy that morning. To give you an idea of how out of it I was, I told myself when I set down my camera near the end of our time at the first winery, “Don’t forget the camera. Don’t forget the camera.” Guess what I thought on the way to our next winery? “Oh, shit! I forgot the camera!” Chaz called to let them know I forgot it and that we’d be by once we were done with the tour. Thankfully, they are open later than wineries normally are and the grogginess cleared as the day wore on.

Also, wine makes for a tastier cough suppressant.

I wasn’t too social with the three other couples that were with us, but we discovered that between all but one couple, we had a Louisville/Ohio connection. Our tour guide is originally from Louisville. The wife of one couple is originally from Ohio. And another couple lives about fifteen minutes from me and Chaz. It’s a small world after all…

Our first stop was an urban winery, St. Clair Brown Winery in downtown Napa. They have an area across from where the wine is made for people to sit and order food and wine in the middle of their kitchen garden. We went back later in the week to do just that. I’ll share that in another post. The area is too pretty to pick just a few pictures to share in this post. This tasting was the only one in which food was served with the wine: hummus, citrus marinated olives, and roasted almonds.

The second stop was Silenus Winery & Artisan Vinters. They make some of their own wines, sell some of their grapes to other wineries, and they rent space and equipment to other winemakers. They have a counter for wine tastings, but we were taken into a private room and we all lost track of time. The man who was educating us on the wines we were tasting, and wine in general, was patient with the questions everyone had.

We ate lunch on their grounds before leaving for our third stop of the day.

The tasting at Tudal Winery was mobile. It started at their iconic tractor that is used on one of the wine labels and progressed through the grounds – a different wine for each area. The grounds are beautiful and several times we all wandered off to take pictures.

Our last stop on the tour was David Fulton Winery. This winery is family owned and we met a fourth generation family member during the tasting when he interrupted and asked if we wanted to watch a punch down. Well, YEAH! It was then the guy doing our tasting decided to Periscope the whole thing. Yay?

Had we known we had an extra day in Napa, we would’ve scheduled another wine tour. Maybe next time.

Some tips for Napa.

  1. The wineries do tastings by appointment only. Call ahead and schedule if you’re doing a self-guided tour.
  2. Tasting fees are not usually included with your wine tour fee and while on the tour, you don’t have to participate in the tastings if you don’t want to.
  3. If you taste a wine you like, buy it. I’m not joking. Many of the wines made in Napa aren’t distributed nationwide, but you can usually buy them through their websites. Platypus tours sold boxes, so the other couples bought wine and boxes. We bought a few bottles that we felt we couldn’t do without but didn’t need a box since we were road tripping.
  4. The wineries also have wine clubs you can sign up for. They ship several bottles (number varies depending on the winery) every other to every few months. Make sure you double check on whether or not your state allows alcohol to be shipped in.
  5. Make use of the dump buckets when tasting. Don’t be afraid to dump a wine you don’t like, you won’t hurt their feelings.

Gluten-Free In Napa: Cate & Co. Bake Shop

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The order station…yes, it’s all gluten-free.

While in the Napa area, we had to do a wine tour. It was one of the reasons for our stop there. But because we stayed in Vacaville, we had to drive in and meet the tour bus rather than be picked up at our hotel. That meant getting up earlier and finding breakfast. Luckily, Chaz scored again with a 100% gluten-free find: Cate & Co. Bake Shop in the Oxbow Public Market.

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The breakfast menu and what’s that? They ship nationwide? Customer for life!

Doughnuts people.


And here is where I have to go back on what I said about Capitol Cider on Instagram when I said they were the best doughnuts ever.

Cate & Co.’s doughnuts were sponge-y, hands down the best I’ve ever had, gluten-full or gluten-free. They weren’t overly sugary sweet either. I didn’t have that immediate sugar shock I tend to get with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome if I have something with too much refined sugar.

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Chocolate glazed and Meyer lemon rosemary glazed doughnuts. We split them.

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Scrambled egg & Applewood smoked bacon panini.

It was so good, we stopped back after the tour to see if they had any doughnuts left and bought the last glazed doughnut before going to Kitchen Door for dinner. Yes, the doughnut was dessert. I have no regrets.

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Glazed doughnut

Later, we realized we had more day in Napa than we thought we did. So what did we do?

If you guessed we went back to Cate & Co., you win a million fictional dollars!

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Prosciutto & Manchego melt

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Apple fritter. I need more of these in my life.

One of the first things I did upon our return home was place an order for some of the breads. As much as I wanted to buy everything they had at the counter, along with their tea cakes that aren’t pictured, it wasn’t feasible with the traveling.

And then what did I do? I joined their Bread Club. And it’s not just their many types of bread you get. They have delicious tea cakes (the Meyer Lemon one is perfect with a cup of Earl Grey), cinnamon rolls, crostini, and croutons. Every month an assortment of four different goodies arrives on my doorstep and because of this, I buy less gluten-free breads at the grocery store. Also, we have sandwiches for dinner more now, which helps me out when I’m busy writing and get caught in the zone.

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My first Bread Club delivery: Cinnamon Raisin bread, White Cheddar & Black Pepper Boule, crostini, & Chocolate Peppermint tea cake.

I may have tried to convince Chaz to find clients in Napa so we could move to wine country with amazing gluten-free doughnuts in town. Wouldn’t you?


Gluten-Free In Berkley: Mission Heirloom

Mission Heirloom

We left Portland and headed south for Arcata, California. My best friend went to Humboldt State and I loved visiting her there. We intended to hike the Redwoods and Fern Canyon. My body had other plans and by the time Arcata was in sight, the back of my throat was scratchy. Other than going out for our first meal there (dinner), I was in bed the whole time.

We moved on to Napa where I was moderately better and more medicated with cough syrup for the cough that would not leave.

One of my friends from church during my college years lives in Berkeley now. We interact a lot on Facebook these days, but back in college, I hung out with his brother and another friend more than him. If you can believe it, they were the troublemakers and I was the one reining them in. Oh, the antics from young adulthood!

We drove into Berkeley and met up with him for lunch at Mission Heirloom – a market/restaurant with an edible garden. It is the type of place you would see on Top Chef. In fact, it’s within walking distance from Chez Panisse. The only difference is, Mission Heirloom is gluten, grain, legume, and soy-free.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Thankfully, my friend is adventurous and up for a new food experience.

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I had to order the Belgian waffle. It was drizzled in honey and dusted with cinnamon. It was delicious with the crispy crunch Belgian waffles are supposed to have. And just look how gorgeous that presentation is. Gluten-free food can be fancy too.

I don’t know what the usual is like at Mission Heirloom, but going for lunch they couldn’t fix a sous vide egg for me to have on the side because it would take too long (it’s on the menu). And Chaz ordered the Fried Chicken & Waffles, but they were out of the fried chicken (no, we didn’t go late). They were able to use another type of chicken for him, but he didn’t care for it. I would love to go back to see if it was just a one-off and we went on a rough day.

Heck, I’d love to go back to Berkeley just to go to Chez Panisse. The food scene in Berkeley is where it’s at.

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Of course I’d go back to see this guy too. I might be mean, but I’m not heartless!