The first thing that comes to my mind as we begin to see beautiful rolling hills and majestic vineyards is Calistoga water, The French Laundry and the CIA at Greystone. Napa Valley is a culinary mecca of the finest dining and wines set in the most beautiful valley and climate. We are on our winter journey exploring as we go and this was a must stop. Pulling our 25 foot trailer and trying to visit the beautiful Napa Valley Wine country is a little tricky. So what do you do, you head to The ELKS Lodge (if you're lucky enough to be members) and pay $35.00 a night for full hook-ups, bocce ball ,horseshoes,BINGO NIGHT and of course a full bar. Now that we are parked in a gated and locked secure campground we can venture out to explore the beautiful wine country at a leisure pace.
Visiting the Culinary Institute Of America (CIA) was definitely a culinary dream of ours, we are definitely foodies and this is the place to tour. From the massive carved doors when you enter, the italian architecture and the aromas from the hi tech kitchens we were in culinary heaven. A self guided tour allows you to see years of antique wine stoppers to kitchen equipment which will bring back many memories. I can’t tell you how many items we saw that our moms or grandmas had, very fun. After you are finished with your tour you have to find the CIA’S restaurant and BAKERY.
FIRST STOP: THE CIA
Homemade baguettes, stone ground bread to chocolate hazelnut tarts all made to perfection what a treat. With so much to choose from we opted for a chocolate tart and a expertly made Illy Espresso. We then had to sample their handmade chocolate truffles and maybe take home a calamita olive focaccia bread and a whole wheat stone ground loaf of bread. Yes we went a little carb crazy. We will walk it off right!
Of the over 500 wineries in Napa Valley, the Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga California is a unique winery and a must see. We purchased the premium tour which lets you visit the dungeons, the torture room and the underground barrel rooms. We each got to taste 5 unique and delicious wines and an additional wine tasting right out of an oak barrel. We are not wine experts but do appreciate a fine glass of wine and as we tasted we were to judge each tasting. We found ourselves rating them all 10’s as EVERY TASTING was some of the best wine we have ever experienced. We had to hold back and only purchase 2 of our favorites but could have purchased all of them. We highly recommend the tour as the castle itself was Dario Sattui’s dream in which he kept the Italian theme. The style of the castle, the vast grounds and their wines make you feel you are in the heart of Italy.
Our next winery exploration was CHATEAU MONTELENA. Now there is madness behind finding this winery as it is the winery they made the movie BOTTLE SHOCK. Its a fascinating story about a struggling little winery back in 1976 that just happened to have one of the finest wines in the USA and needed to prove their excellence to the established French vintners. The grounds of the Chateau are all original and are featured in the movie. What a beautiful winery and their wine well you’ll need to watch the movie and sample some of their finest wine, let’s say we were in wine heaven.
Until our next adventure, thanks for following my blog and CHEERS from JEFF AND LIZ
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY TO ALL