Finally, the Napa Valley recap that tens–literally, tens!–of you have been waiting for!
My inspiration for my trip to Napa was the most fabulous wine drinker of them all, Ms. Tami Taylor of Friday Night Lights.
Tami is always drinking these massive glasses of white wine (which is never acknowledged on the show but certainly online), and if I ever have to be a wino, I want to be her.
As my own personal Sasha Fierce, I’m awarding all these wineries with Tami in mind. Hence, The Tamis.
Best View (and nothing else): Artesa
Artesa was the first winery we stumbled across. It was gorgeous on the outside but pretty pretentious, cold and quiet on the inside. It looked like an art gallery, and not the kind where my friends have art shows. The fact that we had been on a plane since 6 in the morning may have had something to do with our disapproval.
Most Expensive Meal (and Mostly Worth It): The Culinary Institute
I had a $29 steak, and it was worth every penny! It was a beautiful place, too. But surprisingly, this wasn’t the best meal we had.
Most Personalized Tasting: Cakebread
We liked the tasting and tour at Cakebread because it was just us and our guide, surrounded by chilly barrels. I would recommend this tour on a very hot day.
Most Touristy: Robert Mondavi
Robert Mondavi is one of the few wineries that I actually recognized from the label … and I think everyone else in Napa felt the same way, since there were tons of tourists running around with cameras. The vibe was so touristy that we didn’t even stay for a tasting, though we did stay long enough to pose with the naked statue.
Most Likely Place To Get Sex-Murdered: Raymond
Raymond really tripped us up. On the outside, it was very traditional and family-oriented–in fact, there was a Father’s Day barbecue happening when we got there. But on the inside, there was this dark “Eyes Wide Shut” room covered in steel, crystal, and mannequins in lingerie hanging from the ceiling. We probably would have run out of there if our guide wasn’t the same girl from Cakebread.
Best Ivy (and Nothing Else): Grgich Hills
Very pretty, but very boring. Our guide knew someone else in our group and kind of ignored the rest of us. Also, we asked this old guy if he would take a picture of us, and he said “no”, forcing us to mock him for the rest of the trip.
Most Beautiful: Domaine Chandon
This was a sparkling wine winery on the most stunning property, surrounded by plants and art. This was personally my favorite winery. Unfortunately, this is also where the day’s wine started to kick in, and Serena and I decided to nap in the van for a half hour. It was so breezy and gorgeous that it was worth it, but sadly we missed a boyfriend/girlfriend fight. Bummer!
Best Tour: Rubicon
Possibly tied for my favorite was Rubicon, Francis Ford Coppala’s estate. Our guide Lewis was so awesome. He recommended a place for dinner and even called the owner to reserve a table for us. The gift shop was like wandering though Anthropologie. And the tour was amazing! Rubicon (which will soon return to its original name, Inglenook) has such a rich history–the fact that the Coppolas own it turned out to be one of the most boring parts of the story! Also, I like Rubicon because they make a Riesling–it’s my favorite wine and it rarely grows in Napa, which saved me from a lot of hangovers. Amazing place.
$125 stone cheeseboard that I wanted so bad.
Most Missouri-Like: V. Sattui
From the crowds to the barbecue to the shady trees to the long picnic benches, this place made us feel like we were back home at the wineries in Augusta. Plus, there was a packed Italian deli inside, which reminded us of The Hill. Loved it!
Most Money Spent in 15 Minutes: Baksheesh
Most of you know that I’m not much of a jewelry person. It looks decent enough on other girls, but personally I think most jewelry out there is ugly. HOWEVER, this place Baksheesh was recommended to us. We were in a hurry and only had 15 minutes or so to shop … and you guys, I was in heaven. Every necklace, every bag, every knick knack, and even every pair of earrings–Me! Earrings!–was gorgeous. I blew through that place like a tornado and spent so much that I got a free tote bag. Fair Trade jewelry, y’all. I’ve found my calling. I’m already saving money for a shopping spree at a similar shop here. I mean, I was so happy that I sprouted crows feet:
Oh, we stopped by an outlet mall the next day, and I found like 6 great tops at Banana Republic. Somehow, on a trip with 6 chicks, I was the most impressive shopper of the bunch? I blame the wine (and Tami Taylor).
Sweetest Ride: Bessie
She’s a stow and go!
Honorable Mention goes to this student driver vehicle:
Most Baller: Carpe Diem Wine Bar
Remember when I said Lewis got us a table here? Well, holy crap. All the food here was amazing. Jane and I both ate an Ostrich Burger with Truffle Fries. We were all so stuffed by the end that we shared desert: a flambe chocolate banana concoction called the Happy Ending. Yes m’am. The co-owner Steve stopped by our table with free glasses of Innocent Bystander wine from Australia, and later Lewis stopped by to say hi, too!
And finally …
The Tami Taylor Award for Excellence: Domaine Carneros
We stopped by Domain Carneros on our first day, and we loved it so much that we made it our last winery visit, too. This is the place where we got the church giggles and laughed at everything from the “long creamy finish” to “semi-hard and semi-soft cheeses”. It went so far that Kendra asked our waiter Brandon to give us “equal amounts of head” when pouring our drinks. Immature? You betcha. But I have never laughed so hard in my entire life. We tortured our waiter Richard on the last day in a similar fashion. We loved that the patio had a gorgeous view, was quiet enough to sit and talk, and they had wine and cheese samplers for people who love red wine (Jane, Kendra and Jenny) and people who love sweet, sparkling whites (Ginger, Serena and me). Highly recommended; I get a little homesick just writing about it. Both of these visits were probably the most fun the six of us had in Napa.
And that’s it! I want to thank Kendra again for putting this together (and driving all weekend)! From beginning to end, it was such a fabulous time that I will never forget.
(P.S. If you’re my Facebook friend or friend-of-friend, you can see all my pictures there!)