The whole week in Napa and Sonoma was awesome, but here were a few moments that were extra awesome.
1 drinking Cab Franc next to the vineyard where it came from
We drink a lot of wine. But really it all comes down to one thing: a grape. People talk a lot about how that grape was crushed, what it was aged in, how long it was aged, but one of the most important factors is where it came from. The weather, the soil, the slope – all of this contributes to what your wine ultimately tastes like. So it was cool to drink a glass of Vineyard 29 Cabernet Franc at lunch right next to its home. Which is pretty gorgeous.
2 driving in a golf cart right through vines
Getting me even closer to the grapes, Erinn Benziger powered her green golf cart right in between the vines at Benziger in Sonoma. That girl can cruise down a vineyard path like it’s I-95. She grew up there, and it was cool to hear how she’s seen it evolve into a biodynamic farm over the years.
3 geeking out about barrels and coopers
I met Katie Madigan, one of the winemakers at St. Francis, at dinner in New York a few months ago and we got talking about barrels. How do you pick which coopers you want to buy them from? What are barrels from different countries and forests like? How much toast does she like her barrels to have? To show me how all of this stuff affects how the wine tastes, when I got to Sonoma she took me to where they age their wine in barrels – all 30,000 of them!
We tasted three Zins straight out of three different barrels – one American, one French, one French but already aged for a year. Was super cool to see how much more rough or smooth or gritty each of them tasted.
4 driving in a harvest-dusty car with a sick, sick view
Phillipe Melka, the winemaker at new Pritchard Hill winery Brand as well as many others, said you could tell which car was his because it was the dustiest. Once you drive through vineyards, you know why. You can’t keep the windows open because you want some breeze. Plus, it would obscure the gorgeous view across the way where you can see the cult Cab vineyards of Colgin and Bryant. Anyway, these boulders on the right all used to be in the ground but they blasted it out – for the low, low cost of $200,000 per acre! You start to understand why these wines start in the hundreds of bucks…
5 celebrating my parents’ 50th anniversary
Without my dad, I wouldn’t have my love of wine. Without my mom, my dad and I would get a lot more buzzed splitting bottles we open with dinner. Couldn’t have been happier than to cheers them all week long with my mom’s new favorite bubbly, Domaine Carneros’ Le Rêve.