Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Napa Valley, Day 3

On our last day in Napa, we knew we had to take it easy, but we also had at least 2 more places that were on our must-see list. The first of those was Cade Estate.

From looking at their website, we knew we'd need a reservation, but they were completely booked. So, we took a chance and drove up there anyway, even if it meant we'd only get to see the property.

Make no mistake, this winery is tucked away at the top of the mountain, and isn't quick or easy to get to, but let me tell you this: GO HERE. STOP EVERYTHING YOU'RE DOING AND GO HERE.

So, not only did we NOT have a reservation, but we showed up at their door at 10:15am, only to find out that they didn't even open until 11:00am. DUH.

However, the wonderful man working (I am so mad I can't remember his name) gave us a tasting anyway because we had driven all the way up. Even though he was busy setting up for the day, he took his time to explain the wines to us and answered questions. This is going above and beyond and just added to the experience.

I mean seriously, is this real???

My husband taking creeper photos of me.

We scooped up a bottle of their Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon because it almost made me cry it was so good. I can't wait to pop that baby open some day (hopefully soon) and relive this experience again. But trust me: I WILL be going back to Cade. It's not if, it's when.

From Cade, we headed down the Silverado Trail just to look at all of the beautiful vineyards on that side of the valley.

Since it was nearby, we decided to go to Cade's sister winery, Plumpjack Cellars, because we had had a great experience with a sister winery the day before at Twomey.

Our hostess, Michelle, was AWESOME. I wanted her to be my sister. The surfer vibe at Plumpjack was just laid back and cool. The wines were pretty good. Not as good as Cade, but it was definitely refreshing to be in an informal setting.

By then it was time for lunch. We wanted something quick and easy, since we had reservations for dinner, so per Michelle's suggestion we headed a mile over the Oakville Grocery.

This place was really cool. Their deli was better than V Sattui's, which is saying alot. I didn't take a picture of my food because it didn't last long enough, but it was gooooooood.

From there, we made our way to Joseph Phelps Vineyards for our tasting reservation.

This is another Cabernet that I LOVE, but I had never tried their signature wine, Insignia, which was in Wine Spectator's List of Best Cabernets.

Their facility is actually undergoing a renovation right now, so our tasting was on their temporary terrace. This was no big deal though, because the view was still beautiful and the wine was incredible.

Fun fact: They had a small stack of these boxes in the corner of the tasting room that they were giving away for free! We are hoping to have a mini wine-cellar type thing in our basement, so we swooped this box right up and Jon carried it on with him on the plane. He literally did that. 


We stayed at Joseph Phelps for awhile, then went to both St. Helena and Yountville to do some shopping. The charming little area of St. Helena has about two blocks of quaint little shops, but for two 30-somethings, this area was pretty dull. The best way to describe it is "shops to take your grandma to." We had fun though and bought a few souvenirs. My favorite place was the St. Helena Oil Olive Company, where I bought a tiny jar of phenomenal garlic sea salt that I've been putting on everything I cook lately.

The V Marketplace in Yountville was pretty similar in terms of targeted shopper demographic (which must be women over 60) but the Wine Cellar shop was AWESOME. We bought several things from this place, and honestly, I could have spent an hour in there looking at all of the different types of wine and wine accessories.

From there, we went to Tra Vigne for (shocker) a glass of wine while we waited for our dinner reservation. We were bummed that our trip was almost over, but when you have two prizes waiting for you at home (our daughters), the end of vacation isn't too sad.

You know, it's so hard to rate what my favorite meal in Napa was, because we had so many different things and different types of cuisine that you really can't compare them. But if I had to choose a favorite, it might be Tra Vigne, and here's why:

1. The Mozzarella "Al Minuto" which is hand-made at the moment it's ordered and comes out to you in less than a minute, so it is the freshest and most decadent cheese you'll ever experience.

2. Our server. I *think* his name was Neal. He was just awesome. So informative, good sense of humor, and completely customized our meals for us just because he could.

3. The Pasta. I don't think I can ever go to an Olive Garden again after sampling their Asparagus and Ricotta Ravioli, the Maltagliadi Verde, or their Rigatoni Carbonara. I can't remember if I had a favorite because they were all divine.

4. The Molten Lava Cake. The end.

With our bellies full and our hearts content, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and head to bed early, because we had to leave for the airport at the beautiful hour of 3:30am. 

What more can I say about this trip? It was perfect from start to finish. The weather, the wine, and the company especially. The "goal" I had for this trip was well-achieved. I relaxed, reflected and ate a TON of food with my best friend and celebrated the best 5 of the past 30 years of my life. 

I can't wait to go back to Napa, and I know there will be many more trips to this perfect area in our future. But the memories of this first trip will stay with me for the rest of my life. 

Thanks for reading! After this month-long recap of our time in Northern California, it's ironic that I'm leaving for Southern California tomorrow for a conference. And three fine ladies are joining me too! You might recognize this one. Keep up with me on Instagram (audra5909) for pictures of what I do best - eat! ;-)

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