Wine Country: The Wineries Part II

We picked up Em and Sarah from Oakland and headed up to our barn-away-from-home for the weekend (more on that in the next post).  We stayed up and chit-chatted for a while, but everyone was pretty warn out between traveling and wandering the valley all day.  It was a relatively early night to get ready for the jam-packed full of fun weekend ahead. 


Last year on our trip, we haphazardly came across a wine shop in Calistoga that also did Wine Education classes.  We decided this would be the perfect place to start so that we could begin to train our nose and our palette with the smells and flavors we were experiencing.  The owner had stations set up around the room testing our nose, challenging our palette, and thoroughly confusing us but then walking us through all the answers.  Terry got the most correct (turns out my man can get pretty competitive when he wants to.....RELAXXXX, we're on vacation!!) 
The five blacked out wine glasses each had one of the items listed in the poster.  Thought it would be so easy.  Fooled.

Obligatory Tourist Photo
On our trip last year, we had an incredible experience at Larkmead, so we were very excited to show the girls our "hidden valley treasure".  While the wine lived up, unfortunately the experience did not.  We walked through the vines closest to the tasting room, but no ATV ride out into the fields.  Also, our wine guide had only been employed with Larkmead a few months, so he didn't know what he was talking about.  Ya win some, you lose some I guess. 

Emily running through the rows

We headed across the streeet to Frank Family for a quick drop in.  They were packed full of people (including a sloppy drunk girl who came barreling in yelling, "Hi Ya'll, I'm Abby for Texas" and it took every ounce out of Terry not t say back, "and you can go back at any time".  hah) We love their wine, so after our tasting we bought a few bottles and were off to our next stop....Sterling. :-)

Yes, we are well aware that Sterling is a mass producer of wine so it loses a bit of it's boutique appeal.  That being said, I still very much believe that it provides one of the best overall experiences in Napa.  You start on a gondola ride up to the production facility.

The views are beautiful.  You get to walk through the facility at your own pace, stopping throughout your walk for each of your tastings.  We also became wine club members last year, so on top of us having the whole experience for free, we also had a private tasting of their estate and small lot wines. 
More gondola photos on the way back to the car
This may be the only photo I have of Sarah smiling. :-)  She HATES the camera. 
Leaving Sterling.   
Rutherford Hill Winery
Provenance Wines
Napa Wine Company
Hill Family Estate Wines

Saturday (which also happened to be my birthday) was a jam-packed day, and a fun one for sure.  We started at Rutherford Hill to give them the wine cave experience.  We visited Rutherford last year but did not get to do the tour so seeing as we loved their wine, we knew itd be a good experience. 
Huge door....or little person??  :-) 

It was a constant 68 degrees in the cave, perfect for barrel aging the wine.  Em bought their port, and we got another bottle of their Cab.  YUM!!

Next we headed over to Provenance.  They are a sister winery of Sterling, so we tried their wines at no charge.  Woot!  To boot, they also are the tasting room for Hewitt wines, so we sampled those as well.  We had a great experience with Hewitt in the past, but were underwhelmed this day. 

From Provenance, we went down the street to Napa Wine Company.  We signed up for their wine club last year as well, and after a mixup in who was their "member" in their computer system (might have had a minor nervous breakdown in this process), it was all resolved and we tried all of their current collection.  We love this stop because they always have new wines in their tasting room, and this tasting was their elite bottles.  We were in heaven.  Sarah bought wine, we bought wine, AND they gave me a bottle of wine for my birthday!  Top notch in there!!

We grabbed lunch at Mustards (!!! More on that in future post) and headed down into Yountville.  We stopped into Girard and it was an annoying mess.  We attempted with all of our might to enjoy it there, but we finally gave up... and walked out. Hence no pictures. No worries though because the next stop was a block down the street.  Ma(i)sonry has an art gallery as well as their tasting room, and with Sarahs background in Art, we thought this would be right up here alley.  We got one sample of their wine, but they were closing up a bit early on tastings because of a private event.  Fortunately though, they let us walk around and view their collection. 

We went to one other tasting room in Yountville, Hill Family Estate, but it wasn't anything to brag over. I will say though that every one of our palettes at this point were horribly fatigued, so we were not smelling and tasting at all what was labeled on the bottles.  Oh well.  Still an all around fun birthday with a great boyfriend and great friends! 
Here's our total collection from the week.  Yuuuummmmmm!!


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