A Squared: Napa Valley Girls Trip: Day 2

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Napa Valley Girls Trip: Day 2

Hope you enjoyed Tuesday's recap of Day 1 in Napa-- busy day, right?

Well, Day 2 was equally as busy and filled with tons of great wine and great food. Day 2 in Napa was completely designed by our driver Gary, who I mentioned in Tuesday's post. Gary works for and is part owner of Napa Bee Driven, a fabulous car service in Napa. Having a driver in Napa is definitely a good idea as you'll likely be drinking consistently all day and the roads can be winding and confusing. Napa Bee Driven is a different kind of service as these drivers will drive you around in your rental car, not their own. This was great because it was more cost effective, we had a car for getting around on the front and back ends of our trip (when we weren't employing a driver), and we were able to load up the trunk over the course of the weekend with all of the great wines that we bought.

And also, Gary was awesome. He was like a part of the family by the end of the weekend and he did an amazing job of selecting and setting up appointments for us at some of his favorite wineries, which were lesser known places where we had great wine and amazing intimate experiences. So, on Day 2 we told him about two places that we knew we wanted to eat and he planned all the rest. Thanks, Gary!

Oakville Grocery
Besides Gott's Roadside (where we had lunch this day-- read on...), no other place in Napa came as highly recommended and by as many people as Oakville Grocery. This adorable little store is the oldest continually operating grocery store in the state of California and it's easy to see why this place is still so popular. The little store is fully stocked with local wines, artisinal food products, and adorable items for the kitchen and home. I left with a mason jar and a cheese board (used in the photos for this post) branded with Oakville's signature bunny.

In addition to their grocery store, Oakville Grocery also has a deli/cafe counter where you can grab food to go. Gary suggested we stop here for breakfast before starting our day of wine tasting and it was the perfect way to start our day. I ordered the Rutherford sandwich and it hit the spot: perfectly cooked bacon, fluffy scrambled egg, melted cheddar cheese, and fresh arugula on a chewy ciabatta roll. It was like a fast food bacon, egg, and cheese, but a million times better. They were even able to accommodate my sister Emma and make her breakfast sandwich on their gluten free bread!

This is a great place to grab breakfast or lunch when you're out and about wine tasting. It would also be a great place to pick up everything you need for a vineyard picnic too!
Oakville Grocery on Urbanspoon

Rutherford Ranch
Our first tasting of the day was at Rutherford Ranch and it was a unique one-- my mom had actually found a Groupon before the trip for a wine tasting and chocolate pairing here. And since nothing is better than wine and/or chocolate, she jumped at the chance and it was a really fun and unique tasting experience. One of the more well known wineries in the area, the Rutherford Ranch tasting room was on the larger size and they had a variety of different seating areas-- small tables, large tables, and lounge furniture-- to accommodate different sized groups and different kinds of tastings.

c/o Emma
We were seated at a small table with a lovely hostess that guided us through the pairing process. We sampled four wines along with samples of four chocolates made to complement the wines. Among our favorites were definitely the pairing of the Scott Family Estate Chardonnay and the lemon bark white chocolate as well as the Rutherford Ranch Rhiannon Red Wine (a hearty red blend) and the dried cherry bark dark chocolate. If you love wine and chocolate, this is a really fun experience.

c/o Emma
After the chocolate tasting was complete, we were also able to sample additional wines that weren't included in the pairing. This is where we found some of our favorites. Lisa loved the reds we tried here so much that she ended up joining the Rutherford Ranch wine club! We all fell in love with the smoky Predator Zinfandel, which we were told (and it so true!) would pair perfectly with barbecued meat in the summertime. I took a bottle of that home along with a bottle of their slightly dry Abela Rose.

Elizabeth Spencer
Elizabeth Spencer came recommended to me by a coworker and reader (hi Beth!) as one of her favorites from a trip to Napa. When we drove by on the first day and I mentioned that to Gary, he agreed and added it to the list for Day 2 (love him!). Beth was right on that the scenery, service, and the wine here are some of the best.

More of a tasting room than a vineyard, Elizabeth Spencer only has a few rows of grape vines on the property. The majority of their wines are produced from vines growing all around the region. So instead of a vast vineyard property, Elizabeth Spencer is a charming little tasting room with expansive outdoor patio for tastings. We loved sitting in the sunshine and drinking our wine here. And even when a freak rainstorm rolled through, they just pulled the sides of the awning down, cranked up the outdoor heaters, and we carried on with our tastings.

The woman hosting our tasting here was really wonderful-- friendly and accommodating and clearly loved her job, which was wonderful. And the story of how Elizabeth and Spencer met and fell in love later in life and then started this amazing winery together was so sweet. It made tasting here feel kind of special.

We sampled a wide variety of wines at Elizabeth Spencer and each was really wonderful in its own right. I was partial to their lighter wines and particularly loved their Mendocino Chenin Blanc and also their Sonoma Coast Rose so much that I bought a bottle of each before leaving.

Tres Sabores
I don't think that any of us knew what we were in for when we pulled up to Tres Sabores. But, when we pulled up the winding driveway to find a flock of sheep blocking it we knew it was something special.

After we stopped the car and got out, two Golden Retrievers came bounding down the driveway toward us and we were sure that this vineyard was special. Gary did it again!

The staff at Tres Sabores came out and met us with glasses and wine and then we toured the property with the dogs and the sheep.

This vineyard was super quaint and the owner was really lovely. She was so deeply involved in all parts of the winemaking and selling and her passion for it was evident. She took great care of us while we continued our tastings at the picnic tables and listening to her talk about the process was pretty interesting. She even sent us home with Meyer lemons that she had grown on the property. It was such a fun personal touch.

It was so peaceful and laidback and an experience like none other. Visiting this winery was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and if you get a chance to stop here on yours, I would highly recommend it. Oh, and my favorite wine here was a red called Por Que No? which translates to "Why not?" Love it.

Gott's Roadside 
In planning this trip, Gott's Roadside was by far the most recommended of any restaurant, winery, or experience. And it was easy to see why. Gott's is an old fashioned roadside burger shack that serves really amazing and delicious fast food. Now, fast food isn't usually my thing but Gott's is definitely an exception to the rule. This burger joint serves up made-to-order food using locally sourced ingredients. And they're not just serving your standard burgers and fires, but a much wider variety of options from the traditional to the unique.

Our group ordered a variety of Gott's most famous items including their bacon cheeseburger, blue cheese burgers, and mahi mahi tacos. We also ordered a few of their signature sides for the table: thick and crunchy beer battered onion rings. chili spice-dusted sweet potato fries, and the most delicious french fries tossed in parsley and garlic butter.

I ordered Gott's Ahi burger and it was delicious! A thick slice of sushi grade Ahi tuna was seared on the outside, rare on the inside and served on a toasted bun with Gott's ginger wasabi mayo, Asian slaw, and cilantro. Not your average "burger" at all.

The original Gott's Roadside (where we dined) is located in St. Helena. There's a second location open in the area located in front of Napa's famed Oxbow Public Market.
Gott's Roadside on Urbanspoon

Mumm Napa
Mumm is another more well known Napa winery and was our final stop on Day 2 of wining and dining. We had asked Gary to suggest a winery that specializes in sparkling ones since that was the one kind we hadn't yet tasted on the trip and he delivered with a visit to Mumm.

Mumm Napa doesn't have that personal cozy feel that some of the day's other wineries had, but what it lacked in intimacy it made up for in gorgeous sunset views and cold bubbly.

Because it was the end of a long day of wine tasting and these were full pours, we opted to split two different tastings between the 4 of us: The Mumm Napa Classics and the Club Taster Tastings. Each tasting included a selection of 3 sparkling wines and both included the Brut Rose.

I love a good bubbly and surprised myself when of all 5 different varieties, my favorite was the demi-sec. The demi-sec is among Mumm's sweeter varieties and I was pleasantly surprised by its light sweetness and how smooth it was.

Mumm was definitely the most bustling of the vineyards that we visited. We arrived close to the end of their operating hours on a Saturday and there was a substantial line to get in, so plan accordingly. The property is beautiful and the glassy tasting room overlooking the vineyard makes for a nice backdrop when you're sipping sparkling wine-- especially at sunset.

A Squared


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