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Tag Archives: Napa Valley

Returning to a Favorite… St. Clair Brown Winery

St. Clair Brown is an urban winery and brewery in the city of Napa. You’ll find tables and chairs located outside its quaint greenhouse and in the gardens itself. You can sample brews or wine, along with some tasty treats made from locally sourced ingredients and the on-site garden.


We were first introduced to St. Clair Brown a couple years ago during a small group tour to boutique wineries. We fell in love with atmosphere, the dedication to local ingredients, and the fact that the owners themselves were the ones to conduct our tasting. Having some time on a recent trip we decided to visit our favorite once again.
We were nervous to go back, because you know how sometimes, you remember things differently than they actually were. You have those rose colored glasses and then you go back and you can’t remember why you liked that place? I’m happy to report that was ABSOLUTELY NOT the case with St. Clair Brown. It was just as unassuming, friendly and tasty as we remembered. The staff greeted us warmly, inviting us to grab a seat wherever we wanted in the garden. Locals were perched around the area reading books, relaxing with friends, their dogs at their feet…always a good sign in my book!
We already knew we liked the wine, so we decided to try the beer flight this time. To accompany the 3 beers you see in the picture we ordered hummus and crackers. Again, remember that things are locally sourced and the chef puts her own spin on things. For instance, instead of using chickpeas for the hummus, she was using peanuts as a base, with lemon flavored olive oil from a local supplier. The first thing that hit your tongue and made it water was the flavor of the lemon and the finish was excellent.


The beer options did not disappoint. Typically my husband is not a stout fan if we’re in the States because of the heaviness of it. That was the whole point of the stout brewed here though…it was the taste without the full stomach feeling that you just ate a loaf of bread. As we tested our beers we chatted with staff and asked about their upcoming releases. This winery was where we finally found a California Chardonnay that we liked and we were disappointed to learn they were sold out of it.

Their upcoming releases intrigued us so much we decided it was time to join their Wine Club. We had pondered it a couple years ago, but never made the move to do it. Now was the time, and we celebrated with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc…a free one, as a Wine Club Member benefit.
If you’re in the area of Napa, you HAVE to stop by this winery. It’s worth your time, trust me, we wiled away a couple hours here just relaxing and enjoying watching the Wine Train go by.

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Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com
(321) 323 – 9835

Tips for Wine Tastings in Napa Valley

With a growing interest in specialized trips surrounding the interests of couples finding the right Travel Consultant is a must.  You need someone that understands what you’re looking for, whether it includes volunteering your time while on vacation, cooking courses, or expanding your palates with tasting experiences, the right Consultant will be able to assist you with these needs.

If wine tasting is one of your interests, I wanted to pass along some tips that my husband and I have learned from long weekend getaways to Napa Valley.  I hope you’ll find these helpful and I look forward to helping you with an something you’ve always wanted to experience!

1. You can basically expect the winery hours to be 9 – 5pm…they are not open late into the evening.

2. Most small wineries (and these are NUMEROUS) offer tastings by appointment only.

3. If you’re driving, consider having a designated driver or being cognizant of the amount of alcohol you are imbibing on your tastings. Be sure you’ve had a good meal before your tastings, there’s NO excuse for drunk driving. You can also simply avoid this issue all together by letting me book your on a wine tour. Everything from small group to private tours are available. It all depends on the type of experience you’re looking for and the budget you have.

4. Multiple tastings can add up, so be sure to agree on a budget before you head out. The average tasting fees can run from $15 – $60 per person depending on the type of tastings (Reserve wines vs. everyday) the vintner etc.

5. If you plan on purchasing bottles, be sure that you have a way to get them safely back in your luggage. Most wineries or stores in the area will have bubble skins that you can buy or you can ask the winery about shipping rates. They can be quite reasonable, especially if you are considering the purchase of a couple bottles.

6. Many wineries will waive a tasting fee if you purchase a couple bottles or join their wine club.

7. If you don’t know a lot about wine, just be honest with them. A good winery will be more than happy to help you with explanations of what you can expect etc. and share information about their wines.

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Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com
(321) 323 – 9835

A Quick Trip to Napa….Thoughts on Making the Most out of the Least Amount of Time

Let’s say you find yourself on the West Coast in San Francisco with a little extra free time. It happened to my husband and I recently…he was traveling for business and I was able to accompany him. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves with a free afternoon and decided to take the quick drive up to Napa Valley.
Personally, we much prefer the smaller wineries to the larger names. We feel the experience is more personalized and we enjoy the atmosphere more. There is certainly nothing wrong with Mondavi Winery (they have beautiful grounds and I highly suggest a visit) or Sterling or Stag’s Leap etc. but the smaller wineries tend to cater more to you, be able to dedicate more time to your questions and overall, I guess I just find the depth of the wines we taste seem better. It’s all up to personal preference though really.
Because this was last minute, we weren’t able to make appointments for private tastings, but we had read about Michael Hill Winery and the terrific experience people had had, so we booked a tasting online. The form allowed you to specify your preferences if you had any, tell them if you had recently visited wine regions etc. I noted that one of our favorite wines right now was Sauvignon Blanc, that we loved full body reds and we were picky about our Chardonnays (we don’t prefer the typical buttery flavor of Chardonnay).
Upon arrival we were greeted and immediately offered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc each, while the staff told us about the winery and what type of options they offered for the tastings. We chose to go with a Reserve Wine tasting which paired some food with their Reserve Wines. These are wines that are only available for purchase at the winery or through their wine club. The staff invited us to walk around the vines, showing us where they had marked some good vantage points for pictures and then invited us to take a seat out at the Adirondack chairs for a view of the valley while they prepared our tasting.


We couldn’t have been happier with this choice. The staff checked on us frequently enough to be sure that we were well taken care of, but not so frequently as to be annoying. By spacing their appointments, the area was not crowded but we were able to chat with some other couples that were there.


The wines were exquisite, with a depth of flavor that you don’t always find. Knowing our feelings about Chardonnay, the staff chose one for us to try that was more acidic and preferred by Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, then we progressed into some reds. The tasting was complemented by dried tart cherries, salt and vinegar nuts and a goat’s cheese. Yum!
I highly recommend checking out this winery if you’re in the area. You can easily make an appointment online, the staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and you can’t go wrong with their wine.
Keep an eye out for my St. Clair Brown post, we returned to one our favorites there!

 

Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

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