We pulled into town mid-afternoon and headed to the Oakville Grocery. Driving by, you'd just think it was a little convenience store, which to some degree I suppose it is, but we lucked out and stopped accidentally last year, and this year we made it a point to stop. Their deli selection is extensive and their wine selection even more. We picked up lunch here with fresh mozzarella balls and heirloom tomatoes, potato dill salad, a vegetable antipasti salad, smoked turkey and brie sandwich, and salami with a block of basil infused cheddar.
Then we headed next door to the Napa Wine Company. We stopped here as well last year, but we wanted to see what wines they were promoting this trip. The Napa Wine Company acts as a Co-op of sorts, where many grape growers can come and rent their facilities to make their wines. It saves these growers from having to purchase a processing facility and rather they just do their processing here. In 2010, more than 60 wineries produced over 150 wine vintages. The Tasting Room hosts over twenty different proprietors, with one winery typically on showcase for flight tastings. Our trip in showcased Michael Pozzan wines, and we enjoyed them so much we bought a few bottles.
When we left, we drove up to Frank Family Vineyards. Catherine and her family are wine club members there, and she brought over a bottle for Saturday Steak night once. Needless to say, it had to be a stop during the trip. The grounds were beautiful and wine pourer, Tim, was so knowledgeable and interesting. He and Terry stood talking about Fresno and how Terry used to drive 18-wheelers to haul grapes when he lived there, and he told us all about the owner (he was chairman of Walt Disney...there were plaques and framed CD's and celebrity pictures up throughout the entire facility...pretty interesting 1st career).
After Frank, we went and stopped off the side of the road under some olive trees so that I could take pictures, and ended up sitting their through our snack time. The mozzarella and heirlooms were SO good, as was the potato salad!
We decided to start heading up to our hotel in Calistoga. All was wonderful, and then suddenly it was not. Terry and I were sitting chatting, having a great time, and a white truck driving towards us started jerking and then sharply swerved into our lane and impacted the car immediately in front of us. It took us both a second to realize that it was really happening right in front of us. The car took the impact in the back drivers side door and was thrown in the side road colliding with shrubs and a metal fence. After the truck impacted the car, it stayed on the side of the road until he was behind us and then their truck started flipping. To say I went into shock is an understatement. I started screaming at Terry to stop our car, I called 911 and started running back towards the car that was hit. The 911 operator could not have been more perfect to calm me to be able to explain everything to her while I was staring at a car completely totalled, a white truck on it's side, all passengers still in the vehicles, blood everywhere scene. Terry went to help the man out of the car and get him to sit down until an ambulance came. The 911 operator told me not to get involved if there were others there to help so that she could get as much information from me as possible. The speed limit on the road was 55mph, and later while giving our statements, they said they were going much faster and that they couldn't even get a statement from the driver of the truck because he was so drunk. The lady that was the car in front of the accident, and the lady that was driving behind us both stopped and talked. One was a wine-grower, the other worked at Sterling, and they said that crush-season (the time of year when all the grapes are being harvested and there are workers in the fields 24/7) is a high time for DUI's from the field-workers. They each gave me their cards and said that because of us stopping and being good Samaritans that we could have free tastings at Sterling and Chateau Montelena. The face that both of those wineries were on our agenda already was a little eery. I suppose good always comes out of bad, but man it was such an awful thing to witness. I held it together through the 911 call and watching all the passengers get strapped up into the ambulance, and giving our witness report, but when we got into the car, I lost it. I had nightmares the whole night that it happened to us.
When we left and I was actually able to pull myself together, we headed up to our hotel, unloaded all of our luggage, and went to see downtown Calistoga. It's a cute little one-strip town. Calistoga recently just became it's own Appelation (area of wine different from all others in the area) so I imagine that is soon to change, but for now, it is a very small, quaint, "one-horse" town if you will. We went and had a nice dinner and went back to the room to watch the season finale of Flipping Out. We're nerds, we can't help it, but GAWD we love that show!!!!
MUCH more to come...