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.
- The wineries do tastings by appointment only. Call ahead and schedule if you’re doing a self-guided tour.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.