Friday, December 14, 2007

Napa Wineries!

I've decided that my ultimate dream wedding would take place in Napa. We'd have the ceremony and read our vows in a pretty vineyard on a warm spring day, then follow up at a reception overflowing with champagne (Chandon seems like a good choice), and finally, dinner at one of the many great restaurants there, or perhaps a winery that could accommodate all the tables. And of course, an impressive wine list at each venue. And flowers. And maybe a mini orchestra, which could include my many musically-talented friends.

Of course, there's only an infinitesimal chance of my wedding actually turning out like this, but it's still nice to imagine.

On my Napa trip a few months ago, I came across several wineries and wines that would be perfect for my dream wedding. One of the things I love about going to wine country is that there's so much more than just wine that's waiting to be experienced. Each winery has its own approach to making the nectar of the gods, as well as its own unique history, architecture, and marketing style.

Our first stop was Darioush, a gorgeous winery reminiscent of a Persian palace (indeed, the owner's first name is Darioush, which is also the name of Persia's most famous ruler). The entrance was bold but inviting, with 16 free-standing columns and water fountains with floating lily pads. The building itself was constructed from some kind of yellow-colored stone, and the interior featured ancient Persian sketches, modern Italian furniture, and a 20-foot-high wall of cascading water. Pretty fit for a king, in my opinion.

The wines were very promising as well. Darioush specializes in Bordeaux reds, along with Shiraz and Chardonnay. Very solid Cabernet Sauvignon from 2004 and 2005.

Silver Oak was a pleasant stop on the trip. The winery only produces Cabernet and had two current releases for tasting - 2002 from Napa Valley and 2003 from Alexander Valley. Ten bucks will get you a generous pour of both wines, along with a complimentary souvenir wine glass.

I always try to stop at V. Sattui when I'm in Napa. The winery reminds me of a quaint little cottage, with a pretty picnic area. Plus I'm in love with their sweet wines, including their Muscat and their award-winning Gamay Rouge (I would really love to have this at my wedding reception). The winery is family-owned without any distributors, so their wines are only available from the winery.

My favorite winery overall for the trip was Joseph Phelps. We attended a personal tasting seminar where the instructor taught us ways to taste and make notes consistently, using a variety of whites and reds from the winery. The Insignia is JP's finest signature wine, with the 2004 release selling for $200 per bottle now. But what really stood out for me was their Le Mistral, which had me chirping to the heavens (in my mind, of course). Delicious blackberry and cherry flavors, balanced amount of tannins, aged in French oak barrels. And it's a great investment at $40 per bottle.

Pine Ridge was another beautiful winery, although I didn't do the tour and tasting because we were a few short on the reservations. While waiting for some of my friends, I walked around through part of their vineyard.

My friends loved the tour, and judging from the photos, it looked like a really beautiful winery. The most amazing part? Naturally-insulated, underground volcanic caves, lined with over 4,600 French oak barrels filled with wine for aging. And the caves are lit and structured in a way that make them pretty romantic, in my opinion.

Now wouldn't that make a nice setting for a wedding dinner?

Our last stop on the trip was the renowned Opus One, the child of the creative forces of Robert Mondavi and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild. Just like its wine, the architecture and interior design of the winery reflect a blend of classical European and contemporary Californian elements.

After a tour, we sat on the balcony level and sipped on their 2003 vintage while enjoying the view.

Overall, a wonderful trip. Even if I won't get my dream wedding in Napa :)

Special thanks to Lauren for some of these photos.

8 comments:

Erica said...

Oooh you put my favorite three V.Sattui wines in one picture, mmm. I hafta try all those other places some day! And I look fwd to receiving the invite to your Napa wedding. :)

molinete said...

Excellent pictures, and even better winery selection.

annie said...

dude, thanks for sharing! wouldnt have thought of napa for a wedding but thats absolutely gorgeousssss!!!!!! :D i love it!!

Helen U. said...

I love that pic of the grapes - so beautiful. One of the things I love most about Napa is that I can go there again and again and discover something new each time. Dinner in the underground volcanic cave sounds really romantic. Your entry is making me want to get married there. Hehehe.

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