Have you ever noticed that most other wine regions compare themselves to the Napa Valley? For good reason, Napa Valley wines are still the gold standard. And while these other areas have excellent, even award winning wines, Napa is the glamor name through the years.
I much prefer Napa Valley as well, just because of familiarity, and comfort. I know where to go, and what to eat. I have cycled through the Valley since the 70s. I love the vibe, despite the ridiculous prices of both wine and tasting options. Go online, and it is not unusual to find wine tasting options at some Napa wineries over $100!!!!! But best travel buddy, Mike and I were just talking this morning about this. Why are they doing the money grab? Because they can. They get visitors from around the world, never been here before, never coming back. Make them feel special by handing over $100 for “exclusive” tastings. This is simply not the Napa Valley I once knew. And the others are following suit, including the Central Coast wineries.
What can you do about this? One option I use is to join my favorite winery’s tasting club. In my case, I have been a member of Domaine Carneros Chateau Society. It obligates me to buy two bottles of sparkling wine every other month. But when I visit, my tasting is complimentary, and my food and other tastings are discounted. And on weekends, we get to taste in their Member’s Club Room and terrace. The other option is to just patronize the smaller guys. Why should I pay for someone’s outrageous cost structure?
Another big issue is having a designated driver. Sheri is my designated driver, I am fortunate she does not drink! The highways are crawling with the local law enforcement people. So, just be smart!
So, after a three hour champagne tasting at Domaine Carneros, we headed over to Hog Island Oyster in Oxbow for a Po’ Boy. Then, off to dinner in Sonoma at the Swiss Hotel, with new friends. I am still not sure the food was any better than the company!!! It was a great time!
Dining here is another big plus, as there are no shortages of great places to eat. Since I prefer casual, I usually end up at Mustard’s Grill in Yountville. Good menu, decent prices, noisy, but always good food, and a nice wine list. And parking on site, another plus. We shall explore more of the “insiders” Napa on future trips.
See you there, despite everything I just said. Good, bad, outrageous, it is still the one and only, Napa Valley!!