In the middle of May, one would expect the Napa Valley to be sunny and warm and provide a relaxing atmosphere just perfect for visiting the Napa Valley. Not so on Monday May 17th as it rained most of the day, and temperatures were 20 degrees below normal for this time of the year. Despite all that, we spent a most enjoyable day in the Napa Valley. Our primary purpose for being there was to watch world-class cyclists including Lance Armstrong ride through the Napa Valley on Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California. We had planned ahead and picked out the ideal spot to watch the riders. The Miner Family Winery that is just north of the Oakville Cross Road on the Silverado Trail was our choice for viewing the most important and best cycling race in the U.S.
The cyclists were set to ride by the winery at around 2 pm. We arrived early enough to drive a few miles north to visit Mumm Napa. We wanted to catch the exhibit there, Paris Icons, by photographer James Scholz. If you are in the area we highly recommend that you view these wonderful photographs of Paris. The exhibit is open to the public and is free and runs from now until September 26, 2010.
After viewing the exhibit, we headed back to Miner Family Winery where we did some wine tasting. The tasting at Miner’s is $20 for a flight of five wines. $20 for a tasting should no longer shock us but it does and it never feels right that we have to shell out this much money to taste a few wines. We decided to share a tasting and we have to say that our hostess was generous with the pours and there was ample wine to allow both of us to judge the wines. Our tasting included a Merlot at $50 and the Bordeaux blend, Orcale, that sells for $90. The Merlot was our favorite by a wide margin. This is a beautiful, elegant wine that is full of flavors with no wimpiness, as many characterize a Merlot. We brought our picnic lunch and were able to sit on the Miner patio that overlooks the Silverado Trail. Our host was gracious enough to give us each another sample of wine in separate glasses to take outside to have with our lunch while we waited the cyclists to arrive. We bundled up and enjoyed the wine and the view.
About 15 minutes before the riders arrived, the Silverado Trail was closed to traffic in both directions. There was an eerie silence. One of the staffers at the Miner Family said, “When I first arrived here years ago this is exactly what the Silverado Trail was like: quiet.” Finally, the riders arrived with a set of four riders ahead as far as the eye could see. Three minutes later the Peloton arrived, a pack of just over 100 riders in a tight triangle formation traveling at about 20 miles per hour. It was an awesome sight! As the pack moved by, one lone rider was off his bike. It was the legend himself, Lance Armstrong. His bike needed repair and within less than a minute, his bike was fixed and with a push from his support team off he took to catch the Peloton. The riders then went across the Valley and up the torturous Oakville Grade and then into Sonoma Valley with a finish in Santa Rosa.
It was totally inspiring to watch these world-class athletes ride by. We thought we were so lucky to be able to have this opportunity to watch elite athletes in such a beautiful venue. Despite the rain and the cold, the Napa Valley was as beautiful as ever on this day.