We arrived in Napa on a Friday morning, and Ron remembered a good trick that Marcie taught him when we were getting ready for our honeymoon: "Did you TELL them it's your honeymoon??? YOU DIDN'T?? Call them up and tell them it's your honeymoon!! Oh geez! DAVID!! RON DIDN'T TELL THEM IT'S THEIR HONEYMOON!!" David in the background: "Oh geez!! Tell him to call them up and tell them!!!" Marcie follows with, "Did you hear David?? Call them up and tell them because they will give you all kinds of free stuff!!!"
This time, Ron remembered to tell them it was our anniversary, and we were greeted with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. I gobbled down some of the strawberries and we put the champagne on ice. Then we headed out for the day.
The concierge had told us to stop at the Oakville Grocery and buy a bunch of picnic stuff. "Take it to Arger-Martucci, sit by the pool and do a tasting." And that's what we did.
|Brie, hummus, baby rolls, salami, and vino|
|Apparently, those big tall bushes of white flowers are oleander.|
This place doesn't sit on 29 and it was a little confusing to find because it's basically a family's home. We pulled up in front of the house and looked at each other: "Is this right? Are we allowed to be here?" Yes, we had found the right place. If you want to do a tasting, you sit by the family pool and hang out. See? Wherever I go, the pool finds me. Love that.
|Don't forget dessert!|
The guy who talked to us about the wine was one of the "I came here on vacation and never went back" people. With his slight Texas accent he declared, "The weather here is F-ING AMAZING!! Who comes here and goes back??" And then he apologized for using the F-word.
We chose not to rush which felt pretty bizarre. We took our time, ate our lunch, and listened to our guy talk wine. I felt totally liberated to hear him insist, "Never feel bad if you taste a wine and think, 'Licorice? I don't taste licorice. Cherry? I don't taste it. Lemon? Where?' Nobody will taste the same wine the same way, and most people out here just don't want to admit that." Amen. Thank you.
After lunch, we packed up and headed down the road to Frog's Leap. (Hint: If you take a lot of pictures while you're out here, snap a shot of each place's sign at the beginning of your visit so you know which vines, etc., go where when you get home and look at your shots. Otherwise, you get confused and forget.) We had asked the concierge for places with great gardens, and this was on her list. You can't drink at every place (although some people do). It's fun to do a tasting, but they cost a lot of money and they will seriously impair you in a variety of ways if you don't spit most of what you try.
|Yes, that is a pomegranate.|
|Mom: look how huge this olive is!! See the trunk?|
The store here was so Simon Pearce it almost made me weep. (Oh, Simon Pearce!!! I will never get over you!!!)
|Mom: Did you pick out their couch for them?|
In the midst of all of the picture taking, I saw this old, old girl just dozing on the couch. I don't think she could see or hear very well, but I hung out with her for a few minutes. Ron had been sitting nearby flipping through a book and was like, "Has she been here the whole time?" Yup, just hanging out in the middle of all the noise.
|ah--I guess this did blur the slightest bit.|
|To me, the most amazing thing about this part of the world is that the inside blends into the outside so seamlessly it's hard to tell where the outdoors begin or end.|
The afternoon had sped by so quickly, we realized it was nearly 4:30 and that we needed to head off to the next place. The concierge insisted we go to O'Brien, but it's only by appointment. (The only things I ever do "by appointment" in my REAL life are: office hours, doctor visits, and ... that's it.) WE had an APPOINTMENT at a VINEYARD! Such a fancy thing, it almost made my head explode.
When we showed up, another Texas transplant took us under his wing and began the tour which consisted of a super-relaxed lecture under the trees next to the vines. This, I should add, is where the wheels fell off. (I'm talking to you, Jess.)
|Have you ever seen a drunk person try to use a hammock? I have. It's not pretty even from far away.|
|Look up: See the chandelier?|
Let me just say: I'd had a big lunch; I asked for half servings of tasting pours; I tasted really, really slowly here. And somehow, I was utterly, totally completely wasted after this was over. Maybe it was the sun? I don't know.
But, as I so eloquently pointed out in my subsequent drunk texts to Jess (I'm paraphrasing here), "Napa is like camping out in a freakin Anthro store. They even hang chandeliers in the trees." I also had to point out to Jess that the texts only made sense because of autocorrect. (God bless autocorrect! Even if it did once turn "Ohhhhh" into "poop" when I was texting my mom months ago.) I was just randomly punching letters as best I could and my phone was (remarkably) guessing what I was saying and adding in the periods for me, etc. Typically, I take this for granted, but I was REALLY grateful for it that day.
|They hang chandeliers EVERYWHERE! My boggled mind could hardly handle it.|
So when we got to the restaurant and found out that the concierge had told them it was our anniversary and the waitress gave us champagne, we were both thinking, "Oh God, not more booze."
I had the panko-crusted salmon with mashed potatoes and vegetables, and I think it filled my butter quota for the entire YEAR.
Dinner was lovely, but we were grateful to get back to the hotel. We had driven from San Jose that morning (Ron), driven all over the place that day, and accidentally imbibed too much of the best stuff on earth (me). The daytime temp of 85 degrees had disappeared hours prior and it was back in the 60s for the night. When we checked out the pool that morning after we arrived (oh God, the pool was gorgeous, but I never got to swim in it), we noticed that there was a large outdoor living room with couches and fire pits. After dinner we hung out here for awhile. It was a great people-watching place: One group of middle-aged guys were griping about the wife of an absent guy ("Are you shocked? Of course she didn't let him come down here!"); the two middle-aged, wasted women with dyed blonde hair and too-tight dresses griping about another drunk friend who ditched them to talk to some guy ("I'm NOT babysitting her! Puuuuhhh-leeeeze ..."); and then there was the guy at the other fire pit wearing swim trunks, wrapped in a towel, ASLEEP--I mean, out for the count, DONE--taking up a whole couch to himself. His friends finally came and woke him up. All of this didn't seem so unclassy and creepy when I was there, but now that I'm writing this I realize that you probably think I stayed at some gross motel.
We had one more full day ahead of us in Napa ... look for the sober edition next.