Travel, Etc. --> A Visit to Napa Valley Part 2 of 3
A Visit to Napa Valley Part 2 of 3
By Jim Bandy
Jim vacations in Napa Valley while Indiana is skating on ice!
Friday morning dawned clear and the temperatures were headed for the 70’s as we drove north on Hwy 29 to St. Helena. If you haven’t been to St. Helena, I do recommend it. Located about 30-minutes north of downtown Napa, it’s sort of Zionsville-esque: quaint Main Street lined with shops, eateries, and yes – wine tasting! Just like Zionsville, parking can be tight so it’s best to find a spot just off Main and walk.
Today, our focus was on small-production wines that are difficult to find outside of Napa valley. The trend today seems to be that these vintners align themselves with a specialized tasting room that will also be their sales outlet. They then get to focus on making wine and leave the public face, and expense, to someone else. Our first stop was one such tasting room: Acme Fine Wines. Acme is off Main St and you really need to be looking for it.
From first glance, you know that Acme represents a small, select group of premium wines. We were fortunate enough to meet with Erin who helped us navigate their selections and choose what we wanted to taste. Now, tasting here means you are buying the entire bottle and sharing it among you. Having 18 in our group meant everyone had a taste. With just two or four, though, you’ll be drinking! They don’t get the deals Doug finds for Grapevine Cottage. However, if small production premium wines, and their corresponding price, are your thing you’ll definitely enjoy visiting with Acme.
Acme Fine Wines, 1080 Fulton Lane, St Helena, CA 94574 888-963-0440www.acmefinewines.com
Walking a couple of blocks brought us to the beautiful new tasting room for Tamber Bey. Without knowing anything about the owners you know they must love horses. The stable-like details are unmistakable, as is the visual presentation of horses playing on the large television screen. I was intrigued about stopping here because Tamber Bey offers a unique tasting experience – wine and cookie pairing.
Working with Sugar Moon Cookie Company, Tamber Bey pairs a savory cookie with several of their wines. I think my favorite was the pink peppercorn-lemon-sea salt butter cookie with their Chardonnay. Tamber Bey’s wines were quite good; I must admit, though, I really liked the cookies! Must mean it’s time for lunch.
Tamber Bey Winery 1234 Adams Street St Helena, CA 94574 707-968-5435www.tamberbey.com
One of my favorite things to do in Napa is have lunch at Gott’s Roadside, previously known as Taylor’s Refresher. Just off Main St, it’s a slice of California cool at a very reasonable price. You walk-up to the window, order a hamburger or tuna steak burger, and either garlic fries (uber-garlicky) or spicy sweet potato fries. They even have wines by the glass if you haven’t been tasting all morning. Then you find a spot at one of their outside picnic tables and relax while you wait for your name to be called. The warm sunny weather made the food taste even better! Was it really February?
Gotts Roadside, 933 Main Street, St Helena, CA 94574
Our next stop was pretty close by – Long Meadow Ranch. They are a working ranch that also boasts the Farmstead Restaurant, adjacent to their tasting room in St. Helena. We were already sated but the menu options looked delicious. The tasting room was in an old restored building. We opted for the combination wine and olive oil tasting. Their wines were good but weren’t able to stand out against those we had tasted earlier. If you’re going to be in St Helena and looking for a farm-to-table dining experience please do check out their restaurant. That may be their best feature, at least for this vintage.
Long Meadow Ranch / Farmstead Table, 738 Main Street, St Helena, CA 94574
We spent the remainder of the afternoon looking around St Helena and then drove south to Yountville where we stopped at Pacific Blues Café for dinner. Completely unassuming on the outside, what Pacific Blues Café lacks in ambience, and sound control, it made up for in food quality. From the mahi mahi fish tacos, to Nieman Ranch pork chops, to t-bone steak, everyone’s meal was perfectly prepared and equally delicious. It was a nice way to wrap up the day and prepare for the big Silver Oak Napa release party that begins in about 12-hours.
Pacific Blues Café, 6525 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599 707-944-4455 www.pacificbluescafe.com
June 1, 2011