U.S. Road Trip Destination 6: Napa Valley

Ah yes, Napa Valley. My favorite part of the trip and what I've been waiting to share with everyone. As another first time experience, Napa has been up against some hype from family and friends. And why wouldn't it be? Wine tasting in vineyards in sunny weather amongst some of the best restaurants in the business? Yes please. I will taste all of the wines and eat all of the foods.

To start, I'd been really excited to stay at Harvest Inn in St. Helena after we booked it a few months ago, and it lived up to its expectation. Full of lush greenery, it was a very peaceful place to stay and just felt very comfortable. We were lucky that the adult pool was right outside of our room, making everything all the more convenient and slightly subtracting the paleness from this transparent body of mine.

On our first day we had lunch at Cook, and then visited Turnbull, the winery a friend of ours used to work for. Cook was simply delicious and Chris and I splurged a bit with 2 glasses of rosé and a glorious salad to start. He had the hanger steak (tomatoes were killer fresh!) and I had the halibut risotto. Plates were cleared and we were two happy travelers.

We had a bit of a unique experience in Napa, given that Chris's good friend David Kasper is the sommelier  for Thomas Keller's amazing Bouchon. He not only knew the ins and outs of the Napa culture, but he also knew a thing or two about wine and then some. He was pretty much our tour guide and responsible for all the fun we had and the knowledge we gained. 

To start our day, we stopped in at Bouchon bakery where we picked up coffee and a few baked goods. I opted for the Almond Croissant and a few Macarons (as a souvenir - I didn't take it all down at once, guys) to prime our stomachs for the wine and food that we would be consuming all day. David had already kindly set up a few tastings for our arrival, and we very thankfully followed his lead. 

Our first stop was at Colgin, a very special winery that exists in a private gated off chateau. We were given a tour of owner's wine cellar that included bottles of wine dating back to 1887. While everyone was admiring the types of wine and the history, I was admittedly critiquing the label designs and taking note of classic french fonts. After, we walked upstairs into a dining room, and tried three wines: 1. 2005 Tychson Hill  2. 2012 Tychson Hill 3. 2012 Cariad. My favorite by far was the 2005 Tychson Hill.

I listened intently as wine lingo was thrown around while I sipped and munched on crackers, nodding in agreement to things that I knew little about.

Our next stop was at Scarecrow, a very intimate appointment made by David where we entered the private residence of Bret Lopez and his wife Mimi DeBlasio. We were fortunate enough to share a bottle of the 2011 Scarecrow while listening firsthand to Bret talk about the J.J. Cohn Estate and all of the history leading up to the winery today. You'll note that Scarecrow is a nod to J.J. Cohn's production of the The Wizard of Oz while he worked for MGM. Their second wine follows suit, called M. Étain, french for Tin Man. They left us with parting gifts - a bottle of M. Étain and copies of Bret's photography books, titled Floral and Fungi, which are composed of stunning photographs taken within walking distance of the estate.

Kindred spirits, indeed, and an experience I will never forget. 

That night we had a gluttonous dinner at Bouchon, feasting on various items off the menu like truffle chicken, melon salad, and a variety of other delectable dishes. Bouchon is wonderful and the team knows what's up, and now they especially know our love for food, since we cleaned all of the plates.


I will say that our experience was quite different than the recommendations of wineries I received from friends, we were lucky enough to go the exclusive route. My next visit to Napa I hope to include wineries like Opus One and Silver Oak which I hear are so beautiful. If you have anything to share about wine, please let me know!

For now, onward to our final destination, the Redwoods!