17 July 2006 Monday

We’ve got a lot to do today.  We have to find a place to mail our property papers, among other things.  Our first stop was laundry and then shipping.  We found a place to print out some things and got all our errands done by lunchtime.  We found a brewery for lunch.  The Silverado Brewery and Restaurant.  Of course, we would go to a brewery in the heart of wine country!  They have a saying here, “It takes a lot of great beer to make a good wine”.  It seems that’s referring to the vineyard workers drink beer after a day in the fields.  Considering the beer we found, I think they all drink Budweiser.  We did find any great beers here, in our opinion.  The food was good, but the beer was a bit weak.  

We got our errands done, we’ve had lunch, now it’s time to find a winery tour!

Our friend Ricardo, from Long Beach, is quite a wine aficionado.  We asked him for some tips on Napa and he sent us an email with some wonderful suggestions!  We went just north of the city of Napa, CA to the Calistoga and St Helena area.  We found a wonderful place by appointment only, Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards.  Their office was more of a work office rather than a showroom.  We walked up to the “caves” they had built a few years earlier for our free tasting.  Outside, the temperature was over 100 degrees, but inside the caves, the temperature is maybe 57 degrees with 95% humidity.  We tasted perhaps 7 wines from bottles and then we tasted several more wines straight from the barrels to compare the younger wines.  We were talking and tasting wine for about 2 hours.  They had some of the most magnificent wines!  They had a crisp Chardonnay that they served AFTER the red wines, showing that it can stand up to the reds.  They were right!  

Our introduction to Napa set a pretty high standard, maybe too high for the others to compare.  Our next winery tour was one of the larger wineries, Beringer’s.  Beringer’s is a large commercial tour charging $15.00 each.  Their tour went thru the history of the vineyard, the longest running wine producer.  Beringer’s was able to produce wine thru Prohibition for “Medicinal and Sacramental Purposes Only”.  Uh huh.  We went into their tasting bar and tried three different wines.  Next to Conn Valley’s wine, Beringer’s wine just didn’t compare, but the historical aspect was pretty interesting.  

It’s time for a break from the heat before heading back to the campground, so we stopped at the second brewery we saw, Calistoga Brewery.  Again, the beer was weaker than we liked.  We chatted briefly with a local guy originally from Germany.  He said it’s always hot here in the summer, the grapes like it.  It’s all about the grapes, you know.

It’s cooled off a bit, so we went back to our campground for dinner and a shower.

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