Jan 15, 2017

Napa Valley cheeky tasting tour. #WineWednesday

So its a 8pm on Tuesday night and you and the wife have the rest of the week off, what to do? First check with your partner in crime to see if he and his wife are up for an adventure. Nope, working was the answer. So in a moment of possibilities it was decided to get up early enough that driving to Napa we would arrive at the first stop at opening time.

The next morning was upon us and we left mostly on schedule. As we traveled north on Hwy 1 we made good time and a Starbucks stop was allowed. Back on the road in no time and traffic was kind. We were quickly over Hwy 17 and heading towards San Francisco. Crossing the spectacular Golden Gate bridge only slightly behind schedule.

So where was the first stop? We had not yet decided. I know, I know. Only thirty minutes away from Napa and no first stop had been settled on. As we drive over the bridge we started the planning.

First stop we decided was to be the spectacular
 Gloria Ferrer Winery
Figured bubbles would be a good start! Now although it was a sunny day, being the middle of winter and mid morning we knew it would be a little too cold to enjoy all the beautiful views from the balcony so chose instead to be seated at the #1 table inside the very nice interior tasting area. We opted to enjoy a glass each of the 90+ Point bubbles tasting flight and a delicious cheese plate (brunch).

An Extra Brut Reserve Cuvee, Royal Cuvee Brut and a delightful Demi Sec. What a special experience in a lovely classy setting. A great start to the cheeky tasting tour but just as we were agreeing on that we noticed something strange on the tasting menu. An Aussie Flight! Well I could not leave without finding out what the story was there. Turns out that Katnook Estate from Coonawarra South Australia is in the portfolio. These three great Coonawarra Cabernets are not to be missed. Who knew, Coonawarra Cabernet in Napa California! These wines are a great expression of the classic and unique characteristics of the Coonawarra wine region. So our first stop was a beauty and with bottle of Cabernet purchased we were now faced with the second stop decision.

What a beautiful winters day driving through Napa Valley.

Our next stop was to be the Castello di Amorosa. Figured we would go to the north end and work our way back as we had yet to secure a place to stay. The Castello di Amorosa is a 13th century styled Tuscan Castel that is visually amazing. What would the wine be like? Well we did not have high expectations given the touristy theme park kind of setting. The place was packed. Did these people not know it was Wednesday! Crowds aside we lined up to purchase our tasting package (yes, lined up just to purchase a tasting or a tour). Yes you purchase a package and then go to the area for that package. Ok so I'm a bit of a tasting snob and I'm not a fan of the tasting crowd experience so decided on the $40 Reserve tasting in the Il Passito Room and as it turned out, a great choice.

The Il Pasito Room is a cool space. The tasting started with a lovely Pinot Gigio. Guided through our tasting by the lovely Ciara we tasted into the reds. So how were the wines you ask.
Well they were all decent to good until I tasted the Il Barone. This stunning wine was a real game changer.

Tasted a couple other very good wines but was totally smitten by the Il Barone so purchased a bottle to go. If you get a chance, go visit the Castello di Amorosa and have the Reserve tasting and a good look around.

As we were leaving we made a couple calls for tastings but were turned down as they were booked up and there were no slots open. What! This was a Wednesday! Note to self book way ahead next time. Oh wait, this was a last minute trip...

As we were going south we saw the Freemark Abbey sign and whipped on in. Wine I had not tasted before. Just what we were looking for. We tasted through the range and were impressed with the consistently good Cabernets. A nice facility and good wine at reasonable prices by Napa comparisons. Purchased a bottle of the 2012 Bootleg Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine was selected as I felt it was the best balance of price and taste.

We had made no reservations for anywhere to stay but had reached out to a couple places we have social media contact with. Some standard discounts were offered but nothing the regular deal seeker did not get. As we left and headed south through Napa Valley the misses jumped onto Priceline and scored a great deal that was about half the price of the offered deals. This meant we were to be in Napa for another day. Woo hoo!

We had a simple but wholesome meal at the Trancas Steakhouse. A delicious steak sandwich and a French Dip both with fries that really hit the spot at a very reasonable price.
We retired relatively early so as to be in the best shape to embrace the day ahead.

To be continued...

Happy Wine Adventures,



  1. Great blog! Thank you for visiting and writing about your experience at the Castello.

    Warm regards,


    Jim Sullivan
    Vice President, Public Relations and Marketing
    Castello di Amorosa


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