All right. I’m going to try and be concise here. But I think you’ll all agree that a Napa Valley wine trip that includes seven wineries merits many many words, right? This is our fourth voyage up to wine country, and I think we got a little overly ambitious with how many wineries we could try in a day. But try them we did.
The day began with Robert Mondavi winery, one of the most iconic in the valley. I’m surprised it’s taken us this long to get there. This is a beautiful stop, reminiscent of an old mission. There are sculptures all along the pathway once you enter the winery, and you’re welcome to walk around and enjoy them with your glass. Tasting here was $20 for four pours, and we shared. We went with the whites, which included two Chardonnays, a Fume Blanc, and of course, joy of joys, a Muscat! The Chardonnays were both a little too dry for us (if you need a reminder, Ann Marie and I are lovers of all things sweet!), but we loved the Muscat. In hindsight, I should have bought a bottle. But I knew we had big plans and many more stops, and I was trying to pace myself. I probably should have just gone for it; after all, there’s the whole “iconic” thing, and this really was a nice, fresh, light Muscat. Well, next time. This is a good stop on the winery tour circuit. Even if the Chardonnays left us wanting.
Next up: Sequoia Grove. Ann Marie threw this in sort of late in the planning process, and oh how glad we were that she did. The Sequoia Grove grounds are small, but pristine and g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. There's a beautiful patio that would be a wonderful place to kick back and relax with a glass. And inside: tasting is a pleasure! Our server was very friendly, very welcoming. We went with another tasting of Whites, and the Sequoia wines are fun. They have a Glorious Gewürtz and a Rollicking Rose – I love the bottle design. Then, our man explained, we were in for a treat with a Chardonnay. Theirs is made in more of a European style, which means less of the traditional oaky, buttery-ness. Perfect for people who don't always appreciate Chardonnay (cough cough, us!). We actually picked the Chardonnay as our favorite of the whites. And then, when asked if we needed anything else, Ann Marie figured it couldn't hurt to ask if there were any dessert wines. Lo and behold, we were presented with a sip of Port! A lovely, not-too-too-sweet, rich Port, which was the absolute cherry on top of a lovely early afternoon of tasting.
And then…And. Then. Alpha Omega. This was a bit of a random find when I was browsing around Yelp. They supposedly had a nice Sauvignon Blanc. OK, promising enough. This one took us a bit by surprise, though. You pull up to Alpha Omega and before you can even grab your purse, you are ushered out of the car by a swarm of valets. Yeah, people, valet only. Then a host at the door explains your tasting options and ushers you to an open spot at the bar inside. Yes, this is Napa, but whoa, swanky! Tastings at Alpha Omega are $25 – yikes. There are four wines, including that famed Sauvignon Blanc (they were celebrating its release with an oyster party for club members.) My favorite wine here was the Cabernet Sauvignon for $88 a bottle. (We didn’t leave with it.) The AO grounds are beautiful – there is a 5-jet water fountain out front. But with that $25 tasting fee and small selection of wines, we’d probably skip this place if we’d had it all to do again. Ann Marie and I prefer a…shall we say, more laid-back wine-tasting experience?
Next up… Heitz Cellar! In my research I came across a few reviews that mentioned free tasting at this winery, so hey! Sign us up. I’m surprised the place wasn’t more packed; it was a really nice experience. There was a small crowd of people hovering around a table, but there was room for us when we arrived. And no questions asked, they do indeed begin pouring you tastes, five sips in all! It’s a nice range, from the Sauvignon Blanc to Zinfandel, leading up to a Port. (Hooray!) Wines were solid, and we enjoyed the Port (although Sequoia’s won in our minds, so we didn’t purchase here.) There is a lovely view of the vineyards out behind the tasting room. It’s worth a look!
Now, this is only half the fun we had on this 7-winery weekend. The highlight of the morning was Sequoia Grove, a lovely mixture of beautiful surroundings and wine I’d love to revisit (and wish I had bought in the first place!) Mondavi and Heitz both had their charms as well (and Mondavi gets points for the wonderful Muscat that we should have had in hand on our way out.) Alpha Omega… well, maybe if there’d been a little more variety to the wines we would have overlooked all the pomp and circumstance. Suffice it to say that Sequoia Grove wins Round One of Wine Trip #4. Stay tuned for Round 2 of this adventure, in which we visit Sutter Home, Merryvale, and Charles Krug.