2014, bedell, Bedell Photography, Berkley Bedell, California, culture, food, holiday, landscape, Napa, Napa Valley, northern california, Oakville, Robert Mondavi, Silver Oak, travel, United States of America, USA, vacation, vineyard, Wine, winery
Saturday, the 6th, would be the only day during our trip when we weren’t either driving through or to a national park, instead choosing to spend the day in Napa Valley. Leaving Fort Bragg, we traveled south on highway 1 along the sand dune lined beaches of northern California before heading east on 128 through a seemingly endless parade of vineyards and fruit farms. Alexander Valley came first, followed by the Russian River Valley, Sonoma then Napa Valley.
The landscape throughout this portion of our trip was completely unique from those that had come before and would come after, reminiscent more of the rolling hills of New Zealand than what I’d expect to encounter Stateside. The ancient giants that had dominated the view from our car windows the day before were replaced with neatly organized rows of wine grapes or the occasional fruit orchard, devoid of any remnant of its wild past. It was not without its beauty though, the vibrant green hillsides enclosing the valley producing a picturesque quality to the farms completely unseen in those of my home in Iowa.
From the incredible amount of wineries available to us – there are more than 450 wineries in Napa Valley alone – we selected 2 to visit, Silver Oak and Robert Mondavi, along with another for lunch, Long Meadow Ranch. We started our day at Long Meadow Ranch, enjoying incredible dishes created from ingredients grown on the farm just 10 yards from the restaurant – my favorite was the wood-fired bone marrow. After lunch we visited my favorite winery, Silver Oak, for a simple tasting then headed to Robert Mondavi for the full tour-tasting experience. Recognized for his role in the modern era of American wineries – the period that following prohibition when wine making in several regions, most notably Napa Valley, shifted from quantity to quality, establishing America as a major contender in the world of wine – Robert Mondavi has built a winery worthy of his name, an incredible facility I had the pleasure of visiting for the second time, my first in 2006, where after an incredible tour we were treated to some truly delicious wines.
There was far more to experience in Napa’s wine country then we ever could’ve hoped for in one day, and bright and early the next morning we would be off for Yosemite so we had to be careful to not overindulge, ending our tasting with Robert Mondavi. While there where countless other brands I would’ve loved to sample, the adventures of the following days made me glad I didn’t.