Once upon a honeymoon I went to Napa. I was never much of a wine drinker, but at 29, I started to step out of the box, and try the good stuff. (Or at least the better stuff.) Andy and I considered it our thing, since neither of us had really learned to appreciate it in our previous marriages.
We started with a Coppola Merlot, and at the time I thought it was wonderful. (Now, it’s an instant headache and I can barely look at the bottle without having a flashback to a bad hangover, or two.) Then we began to explore others and became regulars at Mt. Carmel Wine and Spirits. There was an Italian wine we loved, I cannot remember the name now but I’m sure he will, and we bought a case of it. When the vintage was sold out, I was devastated.
For our honeymoon we went to Napa. We stayed at a B and B called The Pink Mansion. I can close my eyes and instantly recall everything about it. It was the best trip ever. Champagne at breakfast, wine tasting by 10, nap at 3, and then fabulous dinners to follow. Only in Napa is it okay to have a slight buzz by 11 a.m…
We went to a small winery, Vincent Arroyo, and there we purchased a case to be shipped back home. After that our rule was buy one everyday wine at the vineyards we liked, and one special vintage bottle. By the time we were going home we had 48 bottles to ship back and it became apparent I would need a fabulous wine rack to hold them all in.
Our favorite day was when we ventured over to Healdsburg and the Alexander Valley. Napa is basically two main roads, I think, and some smaller roads in between. There are big names and fancy wineries that put on their shows. (Most of their stuff is tolerable, the special bottles worth trying.) Healdsburg was much more quaint. We would see a sign for a no name winery and drive along a curvy road to be greeted by friendly vineyard owners and fabulous wines. Then we stumbled upon Dry Creek,
I remember the sampling bar, the smell of the first pour. It was love at first taste. We tried several varietals and loved them all with the exception of the Chardonnay. (Not a chard fan at all.) We purchased a bunch and joined their wine club. Two new bottles would arrive every two months or so and we loved them all. We saved many of them for special occasions, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Eventually we cancelled the membership, diapers for twins were expensive, and Dry Creek became a fond memory. In Connecticut very few stores carried any of their wines, and if they did, they were the lower end bottles.
Well, now it’s just me, many miles away from Connecticut but closer to Napa. Recently I started to notice that many of the liquor stores carry a wide variety of Dry Creek wines. The other night I splurged and bought one I would no longer consider an everyday wine, and immediately it invoked the memories of that trip, the tastes, smells and the scenery came flooding back. I snapped a picture and sent it to Andy to make him jealous, and he was. Next time I go back home I will bring him a bottle or two.
I like wine. It is better when shared with someone else. I’m a slow sipper, one glass a night, perhaps two…more if my mother is egging me on. If you’ve never been to Napa, I say skip it and stay in Sonoma or Healdsburg and just do Napa for a day. Don’t order a case from Vincent Arroyo. None of the bottles that were shipped were drinkable, but they looked fabulous on the sixty bottle wine rack I ordered from California to house my new passion.