05 July 2012

Napa Valley wine tour with a professional

Wow. Just wow. Today I was with my new group of friends on what turned out to be a day to remember for a long time to come indeed. You know the group by now; Phil, Mitch and of course Isabel, the great group whom I have had some of the best fun with over the last week or so at hostel pub crawls and jazz nights. These guys have been great, sometimes I feel I could live here like this forever.

Anyways, moving on

So yes, today was an amazing day for our little group of ours got a free guided tour of California's Napa Valley wine country from a professional wine tour guide, sweet! The tour guide's name is Julien, one of Phil's roommates in Phil's new apartment, who graciously offerred to take us around on one of his days off. What luck!

Joining us also for the day was Phil's cousin Adare (I don't know, something like that), and her friend Camilla (I think?)... who both had flown in from Canada to San Francisco for a week break and to visit Phil. Cool.

The day started early... at 9am we were meant to have met up with Mitch to all be at Phil's by 10am. Erghhhh... not good. 9am is damn early when you remember the fact that it was only last night that Isabel and I were out at the hostel pub crawl that I talked about in the last post... ha! Far out waking up was tough... both Isabel and I had quite the hang over (although Isabel was much worst, most likely due to the Tequila shots ha!) but we managed. Mitch was really surprised when we rocked up to his hostel only 20 minutes late, he was convinced we would have been much later due to our late night.

Mitch, Isabel and I straight off the train and on our way to Phil's house. What fantastic weather!
After a lengthy delay from the late arrivals of Adare and Camilla... and also the fact that Phil hadn't even booked the hire car yet, we we're finally off, sweet!

Views on the drive, we are getting close now!
Julien (our guide for the day) was to be taking us to numerous different wineries, all of which are some of his personal favourites. First up was this place below (I don't know what any of them are called) and wow, what a nice place it was.

Turns out this place had some kind of private function on for the day however so we couldn't go inside, so after some quick photos of the outside it was time to move to the next place.

Now this place was amazing.

Wow... what a life. Here the 6 of us sat down in the peaceful shade of an umbrella for easily over an hour, thoroughly enjoying being surrounded by prestine rolling hills of the most vivid shades of greens. Shades that clashed brilliantly with the piercing baby blue of the perfect cloudless sky, with an ever so slight cooling breeze to help combat the high temperature sunny day. All while drinking world class wine, of course.

What a great day
The wine has arrived
Me, Isabel and Mitch
The group enjoying the perfect day. Camilla, Adare, me, Isabel, Mitch and Julien
Pure bliss.

Now I'll be honest here and say... I don't even like wine! Give me a beer or some vodka any day. But here I was getting driven around world class wineries, on a guided tour from a professional, sitting next to world class vineyards, drinking world class wines... I could taste the irony in every glass. Or maybe that is just how wine tastes?

I wouldn't know.

The others were all smiles and deep analysis everytime a new wine was bought out.

"Oh wow, this one is so much sweeter than the last!"

"Yep, this one is by far my new favourite of the day!"

Phil at times... hmm, let me rephrase that. Phil the entire day I thought was literally about to explode he was that excited over the taste of the wines. One of them he completely flipped out over for like 10 minutes, and that was without even tasting it! The smell alone he thought was just the most insane and intriguing thing he had ever experienced. I had a taste, and couldn't tell the difference from the one five minutes ago.

Despite my far from matured tastebuds I was more than happy to be spending the day with some great people, and to be able to experience a place and lifestyle I would of never have had the chance to otherwise. After the place shown above it was time to move on again, although with great reluctance. This day is going great!

This next place I thought was pretty cool, the architechure of the building was really cool with a stone brick outside and polished wood for the interior.

The rolling hills were amazingly immersive, the colours and the freshness of it all created for a really peaceful experience... and I guess having downed a few glasses of wine helps with that feeling also of course ha.

The view from the back veranda... very cool indeed
Everyone freaked out at how good the wines were at this place. Again, I thought they were the same ones as we had already had. I didn't know what was going on ha! But I was more than happy to just follow along and enjoy the day anyway.

The gang. Me, Mitch, Phil, Adare (?), Camilla (?), Julien and Isabel enjoying some free wine
Our tour guide Julien was fantastic, he definitely knew his stuff that's for sure. He could go into immense detail into everything from the process that every different kind of wine goes through when made, all the different ingredients utilized, why the vineyards are placed where and how they are, and so much more. It was very impressive. And we all agreed that the day wouldn't have been anywhere near as good without him... most likely we would have spent half our time lost really.

After a very elaborate 5 course entourage of different wines at this place it was getting late in the day by this stage and there was still more to see, thus it was time to move on once more.

This next place was just about my favourite for the day, the atmosphere it offered stood slightly above the others I thought, although they were all of course amazing. This one was nestled away in between a lake and countless vineyards, with mountains off in the distance on both sides. Very cool.

Surprise shot of Mitch
Thought I'd attempt some artistic shots of the inside

Our view for the hour, with more wines to come

I stopped drinking wine by this stage (I'll be honest... these ones weren't free unlike the previous places thus I was cheap and didn't want to spend the money) so I simply sat back and enjoyed the tranquility. The entire setting was really impressive, easily allowing for another hour of the day to drift in the most perfect way.

While sitting I got thinking (as one often does). I felt pretty lucky to be here, especially as I know a lot of other people (ones who actually appreciate wine for example...) would have absolutely loved to have had the chance to experience a guided tour on a perfect weather day such as this. Thoughout the day I had to remind myself how I got to be here... it is quite a big change from my life back in Australa that's for sure.

A winery we saw on the drive home
After some fun driving through the mountains it was time to head back to Phil's house in Berkeley (across the bay from San Francisco). We cooked a BBQ, listened to some music and had a bit more wine, then it was time for Isabel and I to return to San Francisco, feeling absolutely exhausted but content.

And that, I am proud to say, was our day! Definitely one to add to the highlights list that's for sure.

Phew... I'm tired. Pub crawl last night, wine tour today... travel is tough!


Hannah Marie said...

Gahhh!! Being out of touch with the blogging world makes me miss so much. Napa Valley-wow it seems more awesome than I imagined. Lol too bad I'm not 21 yet, dammit, sounds like my type of place.

Oh, and I love Love the pic of you sitting in the chair with the unfocused background. It really captures the moment and speaks for itself :)

Azz said...

If you are a fan of wine, great scenery and enjoying great company (or even just at least one of those things ha) then yes it is a pretty memorable day =)

Put it on your to-do list!

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