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Tag Archives: Napa Valley

Travel Local

Visiting family and friends can open up the door to crossing off a bucket list destination and sharing it with them as well. Last week I had the opportunity to visit my brother’s family in San Francisco, CA. This has been a destination I have wanted to visit for a long time, and since he was stationed in the Coast Guard there and being that it was my niece’s high school graduation it was perfect time to check that destination off my list!

The highlight of this trip was our day to Napa. A scheduled tour of the Silverado Vineyards, established in 1981 by Ron and Diane Miller. Diane just happened to be Walt Disney’s daughter so that was extra exciting for me as a Disney fanatic! I asked for permission to share our day with you for this week’s blog post, so here goes!

(except from their brochure)
Ron and Diane Miller established Silverado Vineyards to make wines from the historic sites of their estate. The winery borrows its name from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Robert Louis Stevenson stayed and wrote over a century ago. Three generations of Millers are still “prospecting” for wine, making something beautiful from the land under their care.

The ranches themselves were first planted to vineyards by Napa pioneers between 1865 and 1895. Each ranch played an important role in establishing the reputation of its growing area; Carneros, Coombsville, Yountville, Soda Canyon and Stags Leap District. The beautiful fruit from these vineyards is the exclusive source of Silverado Vineyards’ Estate and Single Vineyard wines; the Miller’s highest expression of the Napa Valley they love and admire.

Our wine tasting tour began with a sample of a Rose that they only share on site, as we were introduced to our Host, John Marchesini. John was a wealth of information and made our tour comfortable and informative. As we walked the halls of the winery, we were introduced to Diane’s passion for posters from the early 1900’s. She loved the colorful display these posters offered and wanted them displayed for all to see. There is actually one from the more recent movie Ratatouille that is now one of only 2 in existence. As we continued we were introduced to Ron’s passion for the arts. He collected a variety of paintings, some were paintings used on trains to entice visitors to come to San Francisco.

As John opened the door to the room of wine filled barrels, we caught the scent of the wine that escapes through the barrel and that they affectionately call the “Angels Share”. It put a smile on all of our faces! John shared how the barrels are labeled, made and stored. We proceeded throughout the pressing room, which is nothing short of impressive as we learned about the very large press to create and separate the juice and then to the bottling room. The Silverado Winery bottles their own wine which is rare as it is quite the operation and the machines are expensive. Although they were not bottling that day, it was fascinating to see the different stages the machine goes through to fill and package the bottles.

Jon Emmerich, Winemaker has been with the winery for 25 years and notes, “What can we do to make the wine better? My work is to show the qualities of the estate in the wine so the wines show harmony and depth.” This was evident as we proceeded to our tasting, which was situated in the main area as we were sat near the grand fireplace at a small table overlooking the vineyards! Picture perfect. A nice welcome menu with our name a top, listed our tastings; 2016 Chardonnay Carneros, 2013 Merlot, Mt George Vineyard (limited quantities), 2013 GEO Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville, and 2011 SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District. Each had a beautiful quality and it was hard to say what the favorite was. I did favor the SOLO, however. John sat with us and answered our many questions and brought over some additional wines for us white wine lovers. We enjoyed hearing how the grapes change with the weather and how each growing season presents its opportunity to continued creations of fantastic wines.

I was so glad we had the opportunity to visit Silverado Vineyards. It was a testimony to the importance they place on the people that work there, the quality of product and presentation. To be successful it these are great qualities for any company to possess. I would have expected nothing less coming from someone from the Disney family! It made for a lovely day and one that I hope you may have the opportunity to have someday!

Visit Silveradovineyards.com to watch a wonderful video, learn more about the winery and maybe even order some wine! I want to thank John Marchesini for being a wonderful Host and for indulging us with the answers to all our questions!

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.

________________________________________________________________________________

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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