Saturday, October 13, 2012

I Love CA: Napa Wine

The Napa Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  And it's a prime destination for those who love wine and food.  There are hundreds of vineyards in a small area and dozens of gourmet restaurants, too.  We were only in Napa for a day, so we looked up advice on which winery would be good to visit because we only had time to see one.  All signs pointed to the Hendry Winery as having an incredibly informative tour with a great tasting to follow.  It didn't disappoint!

The Hendry ranch is located about 10 minutes outside of downtown Napa.  It's a family owned farm that started planting vineyards in the 70's.  Our tour guide was George Hendry himself...the owner.  He has lived here since his family bought the place in 1939 when he was two years old.  I was mighty impressed that he didn't pass off the winery tour to lesser employees but took the time to give us a thorough history of his family ranch and explanation of the wine making process.

Because he is an engineer, he was detailed in describing the process from planting up until bottling.  There were so many things I had not known before this tour.  We tasted 9 wines after the tour, and he did an amazing job of explaining the role/properties of tannins and tips for pairing wine with food.  He had us doing experiments while tasting several wines together to prove his points.

We would enjoy spending a longer time in Napa if we return, especially since the stores and wineries close down around 5 PM leaving only restaurants to fill the evening hours.  We did hit two wonderful restaurants...Bottega and Brix.  At Bottega, my veal bolognese was tasty while Cody's braised short ribs were glazed with something so delicious I wanted to lick the plate.  Then for dessert we ate a chocolate almond lava cake that was packed with flavor and finished the meal perfectly.

Wine making is a complex, fascinating art that requires so much knowledge and skill.  We will never look at a bottle of wine the same way after our illuminating tour given by a master of this craft.

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