I have to admit it, before my first trip to Napa & Sonoma, California wines were not my favorite. My experience with the whites (mostly Chardonnay) was that they were either too oaky, or too buttery. The reds (Cabernet and Cabernet blends) were too tannic and too high in alcohol.
That trip changed my thinking…
It began when my wife surprised me with a special birthday present- a biking trip of Napa & Sonoma (Napa Valley Bike Tours). It was a perfect way to experience the vineyards and the wines. Each day we would bike to several smaller, family owned or operated, vineyards. This gave us privileged access to tour and taste with the owners and/or the winemakers.
It was so great tasting and listening…
…to the cellar manager at Laird Family Estate vineyard tell how he was literally raised in the grape fields.
As a child he was strapped on his mothers back while she harvested.
…to Dave Homewood– madman? genius?-Sonoma County Whizzbanger wine blender discuss his philosophy on life and wine (the redder the Better) while watching Oliver, the winery dog, chew on a huge pine cone (see below).
…to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” playing in the background at Hopper Creek, along with winemaker stories, on barstools. “Tasting” a little too much for the bike ride home, but riding anyway (we HAD helmets.)
All of these lasting memories turned me into a California winegrower fan.
AND… the wines that we sampled were BALANCED (nothing overdone). Each night we would enjoy one of the bottles we purchased during the day with our meal. They all paired very well, neither the wine nor the food overpowered each other- which is the way that it should be.
Favorite wines of the trip:
2005 Signorello Cabernet (photo to the right)
Thanks to a good friend and fraternity brother (Bill K., Delta Kappa 1362)
STAY TUNED….Part 2…NAPA COMES TO NYC !