5 REASONS TO LOVE NAPA AND DITCH CHEAP WINE
I was at the bluebird cafe a few nights ago. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a tiny little bar in Nashville where songwriters sing their songs and tell their stories. It’s world famous. And wonderful. I also had 2 too many glasses of cheap white wine there and woke up with a massive headache. I miss Napa. And I can’t do cheap wine anymore.
Cue to 3 weeks ago and I was frolicking through Napa with my sister (also known as my favorite person) where we wandered town to town drinking the most exquisite, refined of all wines. To be honest, it was a lot of wine. But in the entire time we meandered the beautiful vineyards, I had zero headaches. Just a steady solid buzz where I conjured up dreams of restoring an old farmhouse in the middle of St. Helena. I know I’m dreaming, but stay with me.
Napa doesn’t do cheap wine. Ever. They don’t have you fly across the country, line you up in an incredibly beautifully built facility and taste shit wine. Sorry, but they just don’t. They walk you through the cherries, the different kinds of grapes, the aromas and why french oak tastes worldly different than American Oak. Why dark toasted tastes more bold than light toasted. Why merlot is still very on point. In fact, my sister and I showed up at the wrong vineyard on our second day in Napa and we were paired with (get this) the real “Crazy Rich Asians” family. Ok, not the exact family, but close. Needless to say, we got the royal Singapore treatment and drank “the beast” at the Del Dotto vineyard. The most seamless integrated cabernet you’ve ever tasted. Even I became a Cab lover again. No I didn’t come home with “the beast” (just shy of $400 a bottle) but I learned some valuable appreciation for the process of great wine. And then they proceeded to feed us an extraordinary pizza afterward and delectable cheeses, so win and win.
Safe to say, my cheap wine days are over. My twenties were filled with plenty of 2 buck chuck bottles from Trader Joes, but no more of that sister. This is 40. Mama doesn’t have time for a wine headache. Currently just sent off 3 kids to a field trip, and pre-school picture day and they were all dressed, had teeth brushed and decently curated lunch boxes. Cheap wine, no can do.
So here’s my recap of Napa and 5 reasons to love.
Sure I’d like to live here, but really, the beauty and convenience of Napa hotels get it right. Not all are built alike but my experiences have been stellar. My favorite hotel to date is Hotel Yountville in the charming town of Yountville. Stunning and convenient, from the rooms to the pool to the walk into town. My favorite. And a place for lovers. It was sold out, so my sis and I ventured into Hotel Meritage in Napa where it was convenient and well equipped. The grounds are big, the spa fantastic, the coffee shop convenient with the best almond croissant I’ve had in a bit and a short drive to everywhere. Next trip I’d like to stay at Carneros Inn, I’ve heard it’s a dream.
Another thing that comes with age, is a palpable palate. When you mother 3 kids on the reg and you can truly appreciate a culinary treat so much that you almost wanna skip the wine tasting to order more lemon ricotta pancakes, yeah, the food. Napa is famous for their world class cuisine. Yes, please stop at Archetype in St. Helena for your first breakfast. It’s all the things. Wander the quaint little downtown for shopping (and tasting at Orin Swift) and if you work up an appetite, stop into Cook for lunch. Then shop some more. Dinner at Redd Yountville is still one of my top 10 meals in my life. Charter Oak is incredibly good and the dark sexy interiors make me swoon as does the outdoor fireplace for champagne in the perfect crisp California weather. We didn’t make it to The Boon Fly Cafe but definitely trying next time. Late night eats at Bouchon in Yountville is perfection and is open super late.
What I love about traveling (all my life) is observing the vast difference of all the places on our planet. You think you’ve seen the most gorgeous city, then you stumble upon vineyard after vineyard and you’re dumbfounded at the amount of grapes this valley actually occupies. The beauty is smooth, and relaxing and effortless. Try and pull out your camera at 6:30 P.M on the way to dinner and get a bad picture by the vines. You can’t. Also smell that air and breathe it in. It’s intoxicating.
Why is everyone so friendly in Napa? Maybe it’s because they are relaxed. They kind of remind me of the people in the south of Italy, minus the Italy part. They are not rushed, not urgent and everything deliberate. They want you to enjoy the food. The vines. And mostly, the wine. It’s pretty much impossible to meet a mean guy in Napa. Everyone has a glass (even the wine tasting employees). That kind of freedom and enjoyment reminded me of Europe. Where it’s not harmful to have a sip of a fabulous wine after your delectable salad. To eat the chocolate when it’s presented and not pass because you’re not doing sugar. No. It’s a place of enjoyment, beauty and a momentous relaxed state of mind. That stays with you. And I love that.
Ah. The wine. Again, once you visit Napa, your wine palate changes. It’s not that you become this Napa braggart wine expert, it’s that you embody this appreciation for the art and craft of wine. And the super cheap stuff just doesn’t cut it anymore. I’d rather have none. Hall vineyards was fabulous and so beautiful. Literally I could sit outside all day and watch the sun go down with that wine and that view. And rumor has it the basement tasting room is insane. We’ll be back. Del Dotto was accidentally amazing. We arrived at the wrong vineyard and lucky us we got to taste the creme of the crop. Beautiful grounds, incredible cabs and the rośe had me happy at first swallow. Alpha Omega is stunning and the wines equally so. Frogsleap is gorgeous and Silver Oak is, well silver oak. There’s so many more I haven’t been to, so in any event, I’ll be back. Like alot.
| Also, when I say cheap wine, I mean cheap wine. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a great bottle of wine that is affordable at your local grocery store. It means do your research. Experiment. And enjoy. My glass of wine at the end of day has been cut in half due to my palate and desire for a good glass of wine. And I love that. And so does my waistline. Because it gets me excited for a great glass of wine, rather than needing a glass of wine. And there’s a difference. Thanks Napa.