I must give credit where credit is due.
Since October 2009, my life has changed in regards to drinking wine– boxed wine used to be good. Delicious even, in the right setting (like floating down the river for 5 hours in a tube). When my friends, Chelsea and Sergio, announced their upcoming nuptials in Napa Valley, I had no idea how my tastes would change. The words “tanic” and “peppery” were certainly not part of my vocabulary…
And then I discovered Round Pond. Anyone familiar with the brand would naturally wonder how we went from liking the “trailer-park” of wines, directly to a mansion. But once Round Pond’s Cabernet passed my lips for the first time, I knew I was hooked. I’m sure the whole experience helped form my new opinion of wine. For instance, the palm tree lined drive to the estate, the sampling of perfectly-paired bites, the beauty of the architecture, the 65 degree weather that was a welcomed retreat to wear a scarf. All of these were factors for sure. Being that this was my first visit to any vineyard ever, my standards were skewed from that point forward.
Now almost 2 years later, I’m a full fledged oenophile. We have visited Napa, Sonoma, and everywhere in between 3 more times, smelling, swirling and learning about the delicious grape juice. So far, some of my favorite vineyards are:
and of course Round Pond.
Now these are just vineyards– not wines. While the above mentioned ones have great wines, to me, the experience is just as important. A great wine can be ruined by an overly-crowded tasting room where you are herded like cattle (similar to my sentiments of the “Cattle Car” Airline). I cannot begin to tell you how many people tell me their all time favorite is Peju. Gag. Like Round Pond, Robert Sinksey and Far Niente offer bites of food and cheese, specifically picked to bring out the most beautiful flavors in their vintages. The staff are knowledgeable, the weather is usually condusive to a great outdoor experience and the flower gardens are to-die-for. The California wine growing regions are definitely on my list of favorite places to travel. There is just something about crossing over the mountains, outside of the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, that makes you relax. Maybe it’s the clean air. Maybe the impossibly blue sky. Or, let’s be honest, maybe it’s the wine filled euphoria. Whatever it is, I recommend you visit the valley and decide for yourself.
And THANK YOU, Chelsea and Sergio for bringing me outside my “boxed” wine existence.