Back already but it feels like I've been gone longer.
Yesterday morning we headed to Microsoft (early!) and then waited around as they had padded the leave time by fifteen minutes TWICE. Apparently very little faith in interns showing up on time for a free trip to Napa.
I was surprised that our first stop was Andretti -- I've only been to three wineries in Napa before, and we're overlapping one? But all was happy because lunch included salad with dried cherries and wild Alaskan salmon and little raspberry cheesecake things.
Then we bused over to Artesa, which was very modern-artsy-fountains-and-we-were-built-in-the- 80s -using- lots-of-glass-INTO A HILL,and had AMAZING VIEWS (which would have been better minus the smoke). I guess when your family has been making wine since the 16th century and you like invented Cava, you can do that. Anyways, more wine, more barrels. Lots of cheese and crackers and fruit. Oh except here they play Gregorian chants for the barrels of wine. I found this ludicrous at first, but then when our guide told us that it's based on the old world philosophy that if you "bring beauty to the wine, the wine will bring beauty to you," I was kind of struck. Or it might have been the "bubbly" (they were very clear: they don't call it champagne because they have respect for a treaty the US didn't sign -- kind of like the Kyoto situation, but for champagne) kicking in.
Here's the beauty happening:
Lots of photos like this from Andrew -- rows and rows of barrels, shots down the rows of grape vines, multiplied wine glasses... I think he's interested in the mathematical sublime.
Then another bus ride, followed by strategically maneuvering to check into the hotel first so that I could take a spin in the pool before dinner. Because I only like to swim in deserted hotel pools, as no one's there to witness my version of the dog paddle and the frog.
Followed by dinner, hanging out at the foofy hotel's terrace with gas fire pits.
This morning another bus ride up to Sterling Vineyards, which is accessible via a sky tram thingy, and was my favorite for views (reminded me of Hood River Valley, but without Mt. Hood). The best part of this tour was trying the "cab sauv" from three different years... I liked the oldest one, which apparently means I like "earthy" more than "fruity." ALSO we asked about sulfites and the tour guide said that not adding sulfites makes for not so great wine that doesn't age well. Apparently sulfites in wine started with Pasteur (who, we learned at trivia night at the Rose and Crown bar, said wine was the most delicious and "hygienic" of beverages). So now THAT worry is cleared up.
At this point it was around noon, the group was chatty and tipsy, and we were deposited in the gift shop. In that situation, merlot chocolate sauce sounded like the perfect souvenir. Then back down the tram, and into the bus, with our boxed lunches (surprisingly good: but then anything with goat cheese, I'm sold). And... back to home.