UNITING THE HOSPITALITY COMMUNITY OF WINE COUNTRY

 
Research Day in Napa
May 29, 2012


The day started early at 5:30am when we were picked up by Napa Valley Wine Country Tours. Our vehicle was a mini bus with a limousine interior with plenty of comfortable space.

We were taken to Calistoga where we met up with Calistoga Balloons who brought us to a near by meadow to unload and set up our two balloons. What a delightful adventure to start the day ascending to the heavens overlooking the Napa Valley while the sunrise peaked over the Vaca Mountain Range. The balloon experience is tranquil and peaceful with beautiful vistas while being safe, secure and relaxing. The difference with Calistoga Balloons is the departure from up valley where the terrain is more natural and diverse inclusive of the Mayacamas Mountains and the foothills of the Palisades with views of Mount St. Helena as compared to the lower valley.

                                           

After we waited for the Calistoga Balloons crew to break down the balloons we were transported back to our Napa Valley Wine Country Tours vehicle in Calistoga and departed to brunch at the Meadowood Grill. The service at Meadowood Grill was attentive and the cuisine was delicious and plentiful. What a beautiful location amongst trees and mountain side where this resort provides many opportunities to relax or to enjoy activities such as golf, swimming or tennis. We also viewed the Restaurant at Meadowood where a Michelin 3 Star dining experience is offered and the chef prepares cuisine sans menu.

Our next stop was our first winery, Midsummer Cellars. Midsummer's location was off the Silverado Trail and the setting was quaint as if at your friends home. Midsummer Cellars specializes in Cabernet and Ganache Rose. You may taste by appointment and their production is limited to a small quantity such as 60 barrels. Everyone commented that Rollie Heitz's Rose was one of the best they'd ever had.

Our next stop was off the beaten track way high up in the foothills at a winery called Vice Versa off of South Whitehall Lane. What a beautiful setting with our tasting on the porch of the homestead of Vice Versa. Winemaker Paul Hobbs uses a no-yeast flow press method which produces an unfiltered natural wine comprised of the fruit's own characteristics and takes 3 years to age. The fruit selected for Vice Versa is single vineyard which gives even more authenticity to the wine and the production is a small quantity produced, around 280 cases. Vice Versa will custom create any experience inclusive of dinner when a serious buyer is visiting. Vice Versa is not recommended for the casual wine country visitor and is appropriate for the serious oenophile. Tastings are $50. per person.

Our next stop was Merryvale Winery on Main street in St. Helena next to Tra Vigne Restaurant. Merryvale is a wonderful historical winery to visit. Merryvale was the first winery built in Napa Valley following the repeal of Prohibition. A big plus for wine country visitors is the fact that the tasting room is open every day until 6:30pm! One of the most beautiful rooms in the Napa Valley for special events is Merryvale's Cask Room. We were treated to a wine and cheese paring with narrative by Kelly Craig the Special Events Manager. The experience was other worldly as we were transported back in time to California's Wine Country Pioneer era in the beautiful Cask Room. We were also treated to a scrumptious Box Lunch provided by Cindy Crater of Napa Style Cafe. Visitors to the Napa Valley can stop by the Napa Style Paninoteca & Wine Bar in Yountville on Washington Street and purchase lunch creations by Chef Michael Chiarello or attend a cooking class and visit the wine bar for a tasting.

We were then transported by our Napa Valley Wine Country Tours Driver Hilario (Larry) to Newton Vineyard high up on Spring Mountain. Newton Vineyards is a landscaped garden paradise. Who could ask for more when relaxing with a glass of unfiltered handcrafted wine in the Fantasy English Garden or amongst the Rose Court including a birdseye view. Tastings are $40 with a maximum of 12 people. The fruit of Newton is obtained from the South Slope of Spring Mountain and Carneros. Every year Newton crafts a wine selected from 112 separate vineyard blocks. The final complex blend selected from the finest of the blocks is called The Puzzle. Newton is closed Monday's.

       

This ended our day.

The few who traveled the day prior from San Francisco were treated to a night at the Harvest Inn. Even though our stay was short I had the opportunity to tour the grounds with a staff member who was able to answer my questions regarding holding a wedding at the Harvest Inn. The country estate accommodations were high end yet wine country rustic with a brick and wood interior with fireplace. I stayed in the Manor House. There were eight acres of gorgeously landscaped gardens and the vineyards were right outside my private patio with views of the Mayacamas Mountains. The patio was equipped with a jacuzzi and the room had the best forceful shower I have ever experienced. A complimentary split of Sauvignon Blanc and plenty of water bottles comes standard with each room. The Harvest Inn offers a complimentary Wine Country Breakfast which we did not partake in due to our early departure for our research day. There is also a Wine Bar and Spa located on site and two heated outdoor swimming pools, fitness center and meeting rooms. I am forever grateful to all the vendors for the opportunity to learn about their services and offerings which I have experiences and can now share with my Residents and visitors alike.

Yours truly,
David Malespin
Lead Concierge, Millennium Tower

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