Bianca: We’re pretty blessed with some fantastic quality wines in Australia, American wines have been a bit of a mystery to me and I was keen on our recent honeymoon to explore more of California’s more natural and picturesque scenery. Stepping out of the cities and straight into a winery… at 10am.
Turns out my mission to try some quality American wine hit a bit of a snag. Take my advice, organise a tour, an UBER, a miniature Shetland pony, whatever… just don’t drive. It will severely kill your buzz, as well as that of your sober driver because no-one really wants to drink alone.
On the bright side, you can still have a good day whilst keeping the alcohol to a minimum. Napa County is roughly a 1hr 10 minute drive from the heart of San Francisco.
Brunch in the states is a celebrated tradition and everybody must have gotten our memo when we visited Boon Fly Cafe.
In a gorgeous rustic ‘Barnhouse’ you’ll find one of Napa Valleys hottest cafes. We arrived at 9 am and still had to wait close to 30 minutes for a table for 2.
Coffee was always risky business in the states so I went for a Pineapple Juice $6. The Corned Beef Hash -w/ Hash Browns, spinach, grilled onions, poached eggs & jalapeno hollandaise $18 is a fantastic option to line the stomach. Perfect poached eggs, crispy hash browns and the in-house made corned beef was tender and very tasty.
Of course I was going to order the Triple Stack Griddle Cakes -w/ Vermont maple syrup, seasonal berries & fruit compote $15. Top points here, I don’t think I had a bad stack the entire time I was away. These were light and fluffy, always a plus when maple syrup is served on the side. The dried fruit really adding a potent hit of concentrated fruit flavour.
We picked up a few of their famous Boon Fly Donuts $1each, dangerously delicious but a great treat for later on in the day.
Domaine Carneros spearheaded by CEO and founding winemaker Eileen Crane. Founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger, Domaine Carneros was envisioned to be Taittinger’s US counterpart. Sparkling wines are at the forefront of their arsenal. And during our visit, we tried the Sparkling Wine Sampler $30pp. With our standout being the 2013 Vermeil Demi-sec. It’s all a very sophisticated affair, outside tables overlooking the valley, complimentary toasted almonds…what’s not to like.
And that’s literally where our wine tasting stopped. Again., bad planning on our behalf. But I’ll throw in some suggestions as to what was on our list but we didn’t quite get to.
Artesa Winery was suggested to me by a few people and the location looked stunning.
Post champagne tasting we were both feeling a little tipsy, they were pretty generous pours (the price-tag demands the generosity). Oxbow Public Market is a strong suggestion if you’re after food, there’s a fair amount of choice but I was on a mission to get to Model Bakery for their famous English Muffins. Because if they’re good enough for Oprah they’re good enough for MOI! Slathered with butter and jam!
The Hess Collection is a vineyard/art gallery featuring spectacular and captivating artworks by Francis Bacon & Franz Gertsch. This is a great pit stop if you’re wanting a break from the wine tastings.
Inglenook Winery was another recommended winery.
V Sattui Winery is one of Napa Valleys most prominent wineries. We visited a few days before Halloween so the winery was decked out to the nines. Make sure you visit their grocery store and pick up a jar of the Napa Valley Chilli Crunch. It’ll change your life!
And your last stop should be Castello di Amorosa. A castle and winery, I was kicking myself we didn’t in (even to take photos).
From Castell di Amarosa (if that’s your last stop) it’s a 1-hour 40-minute drive back to the heart of San Francisco.
So perhaps not the best use of our time but the above outline with a chauffeur or tour and you can’t go wrong.