California’s king grape – Cabernet Sauvignon
Link – About Cabernet Sauvignon
Link – About Cabernet Sauvignon
For our Wine Country Photo of the Day, I chose this vineyard shot of a row of Petit Verdot next to a row of Cabernet Sauvignon. Petit Verdot is one of the five Bordeaux varieties, along with Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec. The vineyard belongs to Revana Family Vineyards in St. Helena. There are only a few rows of Petit Verdot on the Revana Estate vineyards. Most vintners use Petit Verdot to add when making a Cabernet Sauvignon wine. It may add color, spice, tannins, and intensity to the wine. Petit Verdot is used in only small amounts.
We have been traveling to Paso Robles for many years; well before wine country became “a thing” in Paso Robles. The City of Paso Robles was essentially a cowboy town with saloons and steak houses, boot shops and hardware stores. Fast forward to 2017, and we still have a bit of the cowboy in Paso Robles but, by and large, the town has gone very much upscale and wine oriented. Many gourmet restaurants surround the City Park, and there are more than twenty winery tasting rooms to visit and to try Paso wine. Surrounding Paso Robles are eleven AVA’s, or wine appellations, and over 200 wineries producing a wide range of wine varietals. When we go to Paso, we always stay at the Paso Robles Inn. It has been there since 1891. A fire in 1940 destroyed the hotel, but is was rebuilt a few years afterward. It is on Spring Street, which was Highway 101 until the freeway was completed. The Paso Robles Inn is convenient for us, comfortable, clean and affordable. We can walk to shopping, dining, and more. Nothing tells the tale of two Paso Robles than comparing the Paso Robles Inn to the Hotel Cheval. The Hotel Cheval is the new Paso Robles. “Paso Robles’ finest boutique luxury hotel.” It is upscale and chic. It represents how wine country has changed much of Paso Robles.
Where there are Coastal Redwoods in California, there is wine country. The Coastal Redwoods depend upon the fog bank that forms along the Pacific Coast from the Monterey area to the Northern border of California. Fog equals cool climate temperatures. These temperatures are ideal for growing Pinot Noir. The above photo was shot on Highway 128 just outside the town of Philo in the Anderson Valley. The Anderson Valley is one of the great growing areas for Pinot Noir. In Sonoma County, the Russian River Valley AVA is also well known for great Pinot Noir as is the Sonoma Coast. Redwoods thrive in this area. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, there are beautiful forests of Redwoods. Santa Cruz Pinot Noir wines are exquisite. Finally, Monterey County boasts great Pinot Noir and great Redwoods. Take a walk in a Redwood forest and later enjoy some fine Pinot Noir wines. Life cannot get much better!
After five years of drought conditions, we finally have a wonderful season of rainfall. The wine country in the Napa Valley and Sonoma has not seen this amount of rainfall in 50 years. The result as we swing into Spring and warm weather is a bounty of wildflowers. Look along the hillsides and in between vines for wildflowers. It is an exciting season for gardeners, nature lovers, and wine enthusiasts. A trip to the wine country this March is just about as healthy as can been. It clears the mind and rejuvenates the spirit.
Sutter Creek is our favorite gold country town in the Sierra Foothills. We love the town for its old buildings and historic points of interest. Just in the past few years, Sutter Creek has been enjoying a boom in wine country tourism. Wine lovers are spending vacation time to visit the wineries in Amador County. With so many tourists lodging in Sutter Creek, several wineries have decided to open a tasting room in the downtown area. The most recent addition to the tasting room scene is Serafina Cellars. Paul Scotto is the owner and winemaker. Paul is a fifth-generation winemaker in the Scotto Family and established Serafina Cellars, focusing on wines produced from Amador County. Serafina Cellars has a broad lineup of Amador wines that are delicious and priced reasonably. There are several other wonderful tasting rooms in Sutter Creek. Take a walk along the three-block stretch of downtown Sutter Creek, where you can spend an entire day shopping and wine tasting in this delightful gold country town.
Just south of the downtown business area of St. Helena as one drives along Highway 29, it is hard not to notice the activity at Gott’s Roadside Café. Just about any time of the day, the Café is busy with lines of people and crowded tables. What a bonanza for the brothers Joel and Duncan Gott. The Gotts purchased Taylor’s Refresher drive-in Café in 1999. It was, at that time, a 50-year-old establishment that needed some spark to match the changing times. Who would have imagined the amazing crowds and the popularity of this spot? It has been so successful that the brothers Gott have opened three other roadside Cafés. There is one at the Oxbow Market in Napa, at the Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, and at the latest location in Palo Alto. The service is quick and organized. The prices are respectable and best of all the food is tasty. Wine and beer are also available. For those needing a quick and easy meal, Gott’s Roadside Café is an excellent choice. It may look busy, but the lines move quickly.
Addition Dining Information for the Napa Valley
The Merryvale tasting room is a very popular spot in the Napa Valley. Coming from the South, Merryvale is on the right just before the downtown business area of St. Helena. For the wine tasting visitor, no reservations are required for a regular wine tasting experience. The tasting fee is currently $30 per person. In addition, there are other elevated tastings and these require a reservation. See the Merryvale Website for complete information on wine tasting options. In 1996, the Slattery Family became the sole owners of Merryvale. The most impressive room at Merryvale is the Cask Room. The Cask Room holds 70 people and is the site of many winery events. It can also be rented for those who want to host the ultimate wine party.
With the heavy January rains, this mustard season in wine country should measure up as one of the best in recent years. The photo above was shot in a year ago February at the B.R. Cohn Winery in the Sonoma Valley. Wild mustard should be in full bloom in the Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and the Santa Cruz Mountain region. The mustard season lasts to the end of March. The wild mustard season is one of wine country’s greatest shows.
The Culinary Institute of America is branching out in the Napa Valley. For many years the historic Greystone in St. Helena has been the West Coast branch of the CIA. The long-vacant Copia building now houses many CIA events and glasses. There is also an innovative restaurant on the premises, The Restaurant at CIA. Cooking classes, wine tasting events, and other wine and food related activities are in full swing at the Napa location. This branch of the CIA is next door to the popular Oxbow Public Market at 500 First Street. Make a half day or so to visit two fabulous food and wine venues. Check these links to the CIA and to the Oxbow Public Market.