As many of you read, just over a week ago we were in my favorite place in the world: Wine Country.
I know, rough life. We went to Napa for a few reasons:
B) To celebrate our 1 year anniversary by going back to the same place we spent our honeymoon. (sap.)
C) Because there was a BLT-fest going on that I just couldn’t miss.
Imagine the look on people’s faces when we tell told them that.
“Oh, you’re going to Napa? Fun! What for?”
“This BLT festival is happening, totally my jam. I’m so going.”
But let’s back up a little and address this honestly. What do you think I am going to Napa for? A hot air balloon ride?
I am going for the sauce, duh. It just so happens I planned to go on a weekend where there would be a surplus of heirloom tomatoes and bacon. quelle surprise.
So I’d love to give you a run down on the must do’s from our weekend.
First things first, let’s talk about Tomatoville. You all know our extreme love for Hill Family Estate, who’s club we joined based on Ryan Hill’s good looks alone. Ok, that’s a lie. We liked the wine, too.
Every year they host Tomatoville, a seasonal celebration showcasing their wine, the heirloom tomatoes of Yountville and locally cured bacon. And duh. A few great things happened here.
We saw some of our favorite Hill Family members, we ate all the bacon, drank our favorite wine label, won a wine dipped baseball bat and 2 bottles of reserve wine, and Brian was told “You must be Italian, look at your hair” by a lovely Asian woman.
Overall, the event was a big win. My first recommendation to everyone who asks me anything about wine country is to do the Secret Garden Tour at Hill Family Estate. ($45) It is still, bar none, the best wine country experience we have ever had, and we have many many friends that share the sentiment. So go, already.
We also visited some of our favorite vineyards, and some new ones. Here goes:
Best wine/food pairing experience.
This was a honeymoon favorite of ours. I’d have to say it was probably the best bottle we purchased from our honeymoon, so we knew we wanted to go back. We did the lunch pairing sitting out on their terrace. It was seriously the best idea ever. There is just something about sitting in the sunshine, eating a salad that you can see the garden from which it grew, and laughing with your best friends.
Honestly in that moment, I wished I could just stay there forever. Should you go to Lynmar, do the lunch tasting at $40 a person, and buy a bottle of their world class Pinot Noir.
Best Wine. The end.
Another unexpected favorite from our honeymoon. Honestly, we had some extra time and ended up just popping in there the first time we went and were so pleasantly surprised. We did the exact same thing this time. We had some free time, were driving by and decided to pull over and say hey. Let me tell you something. I will never take the risk of putting them on my “If we have extra time” list again. Top of the list. As in, go. They are super boutique family owned estate, and while their tours are casual, their wines are anything but. Their ‘Il Mostro’ Petit Syrah/Zin blend ($65) literally put all of us in a life crisis. A life crisis that said “I can’t live another day without this bottle.” Just go, is all I can say. It is also worth mentioning that the grapes grown for the Il Mostro come from Pre-Prohibition aged vines.
Tied with Twomey for ‘Most attentive service‘.
Cliff Lede is a gorgeous winery which is certainly worth planning around. They have beautiful gardens, stand up wine, and service that would make any owner proud. They were slammed when we stopped in. I mean, packed. And they still managed to be polite, attentive, fun-loving and overall, an extremely charming staff. They also have a unique story, naming their plots after rock songs. If you’re looking for a get-away experience, you could stay at their bed and breakfast, The Poetry Inn.
Tied with Cliff Lede for ‘Most attentive service’.
This was our last stop of the weekend, and a good way to go out. I have to say that while their wines were good, I really loved their educated staff. We had the most charming person pouring their wines for us. She was so down to earth, and talked about what she took away from each wine in a way that was so approachable. This is the perfect first stop for any newbies to Wine Country. Their staff will ease you into it.
We also went to Hop Kiln and Elyse, neither of which had anything wrong with them, but I just don’t know that we will go back the next time we are in the area.
We also decided that all other meals outside of Tomatoville be Thomas Keller-fest 2K12. We had drinks at Bouchon (our very favorite, the Black Walnut Manhattan) and and enjoyed probably one too many. Then we had dinner at Ad Hoc. I have to be honest with you, it was one of the worst dinners I have ever had. I don’t make it my business to write bad reviews here on the blog, but I’ll never go there again and if anyone ever asks me about my experience, I’ll be honest. This is truly a shame because anyone who knows me well will tell you I am a little obsessed with Thomas Keller, and am a huge fan of his work.
Overall verdict: Napa Valley is still my absolute favorite place in the world and I am going to try and convince Brian to take me there every year. Have fun with that, Brian.