After our trip to Yosemite, Matt and I were certainly looking forward to the luxuries of Napa. Forget the wine and good food, we were simply excited about sleeping in a bed and taking a nice hot shower – two things that we didn’t have during the 4 days we were in Yosemite. After showering and a good night sleep Matt and I ventured up to to the famous vineyards of the Napa Valley.
The first vineyard that we visited was Opus One, an exclusive winery that produces one type of wine, Vintage, each year. The wine costs approximately 200 dollars a bottle; however, the price increased along with the age of the wine. Someone on our tour said that the 2005 Vintage was selling for nearly 400 dollar a bottle.
On our tour of the vineyard, we saw the grape vines, the room that they process the grapes and the huge vats where they fermented the grapes into wine.
Grape Harvesting Machine
Every year, wine is poured into new french oak barrels that cost 1,000-1,500 dollars EACH to age for 2 years. The aging process brings out the flavors of the multiple grape variety: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Every year, the Vintage wine changes slightly and typically improves with time.
I was stunned with the attention to detail, the cleanliness and the care that Opus One gives its grapes and the wine making process. They throw money into things: hedge trimming, new equipment and new oak barrels every year, that other vineyards can only dream about. Their building has a story all its own. You couldn’t help but be impressed with the operations taking place inside the winery and the sense of pride that the employees exhibited during our tour.
After our hour-long tour, I could not wait to try their Cabernet wine. Finally we were led into their tasting room where our wine had been aerating, awaiting our arrival. I was very excited as I swirled the glass like a pro and took a sniff. Smelled pretty good to me… I brought the glass to my lips and took a small sip. I looked at Matt to gauge his reaction. He was clearly enjoying the wine and could taste the handpicked grapes, the 12 pairs of eyes that scanned the grapes for anything not good enough for opus one, and the 1,500 hundred-dollar oak barrels. I tasted 2 buck chuck. After all of that, this wine that cost 200+ dollar per bottle, tasted like the 2 dollar a bottle wine that you can buy at Trader Joes.
I tell you… you can take the girl out of New Hampshire, but you can’t take New Hampshire out of the girl.
After a few days of wine tasting, we left the vineyards a lot more knowledge of wine. We also left with countless new adjectives added to our vocabulary. Who knew that you could describe wine, essentially grape juice, in so many different ways: oaky, strawberry, mango, green apple, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, apple pie, cherries, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, toasted nuts, buttery, caramel, dry, structured, more structured, toasted oak, raspberry, and peppery.
So after all of that, I am confident that my wine buying style (inherited from my mom) of buying the bottle with the coolest label, works just fine.
So that ends our amazing California vacation. From San Francisco to Yosemite to Napa. I had a great experience and Matt and I added unforgettable memories to our growing collection. Thank you Matt for planning an unbelievable vacation. I love you! Next up, Hawaii :)