New Farm Park, Brisbane

Sunday, July 29, 2012

CALIFORNIAN WINES

Between 1996 and 2008 we belonged to a wine tour group and every year we visited a different wine growing region in Australia. After 10 years the group started going to overseas wine regions. We visited French, Spanish, and Portuguese wine regions. Unfortunately we missed the Italian tour because we were river cruising between Amsterdam and Budapest. Unfortunately we never visited the Californian wine regions as I hoped we would one day. We left the wine group in 2009 as TOH isn't able to drink much wine anymore due to it causing his heart to go into Atrial Fibrillation.  

However, on our last trip to visit our daughter in LA, we decided to finish our trip with a tour of the Napa Valley Wine Region and tick it off our Bucket List. So we joined Tauck Tours and did 3 days discovering San Francisco and then we went to the Napa Valley for 3 days.

It is not far north of SFO and the scenery was lovely. One vineyard after another for as far as you could see. We were taken on a guided tour of the family owned Benziger Winery. We were taken around the vineyard in a trailer behind this tractor. We were given a lot of information on how they grow the grapes organically and sustainably by using knowledge of native plants.


Then we were taken to the cave/cellar for wine tasting and lunch.

We were surprised to hear that they use French oak and not American oak.

The wines tasted great, just as we expected. They are not as heavy as the rich fruity wines of Australia but have more oomph than the delicate wines of France. (That's my opinion) 

The lunch was in an interesting setting underground and the lunch was a delicious salad served on a plate inside a bamboo container. I tried to get the ambiance without using a flash.

After lunch we were taken to an olive oil tasting. 

As I was full from lunch the thought of swigging olive oil turned me up, so I just looked on but others said it was interesting to taste the different flavours.

Finally we were taken to "The Lodge at Sonoma" and we rested in the most beautiful surroundings before attending a talk on "pink wines" which was very interesting. The sommelier explained how people need to be educated about the new, dry, light, red wines that are being produced today as they are not like the old sparkling Rosè of the past.

24 comments:

  1. The idea of 'tasting' a swig of olive oil seems not far removed from the old 'castor oil punishment' of my early years. I think I would have been standing back with you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mmm, I think I'd pass on the olive oil tasting too. However, I'd not be tasting the wine, but would enjoy the information and tour with all. As a teetotaler, I only don't DRINK the stuff. I do read up about wines and tours. Diane, you certainly captured the ambiance in the underground eatery. Your camera skills are amazing. Hope you're having a great day. Jo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Olive oil tasting with a little bread might have been good before lunch. I cannot bring myself to try modern day rose wines. The memories are just too bad. I think the dining area photo without flash is particularly good.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Being a non-drinker we give the cellars a miss but I do think the vineyards look nice. As for olive oil tasting I have never been quite into the subtle differences in olive oil but I only use it in cooking, not as a dipping oil.

    ReplyDelete
  5. my favorite photo is the one without the flash, beautiful and you did capture the ambiance. i like that last shot to, a lot. and you always amaze me when I read about all the places you have been. you should have called your blog adventures before dementia as a world wide traveler.

    ReplyDelete
  6. LC and I would so love to visit Napa valley one day and this entry just makes it even more attractive.

    Love this line: "Unfortunately we missed the Italian tour because we were river cruising between Amsterdam and Budapest." Not a bad problem to have, in the scheme of things!

    ReplyDelete
  7. A lovely post Diane and one I am going to share with a friend when she gets back. She lived in Napa for 30 years and is there right now visiting friends.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A great day out wine tasing in the vineyards of the Napa valley. I have been on an olive oil tasting trip in Italy and it was wonderful not quite like tasting the cod liver oil of our childhood. The flavours vary greatly. As you are using small pieces of bread for the tasting it was quite delicious. I have never been able to replicate that taste at home. I am sure the ambience of the setting adds to the flavour.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sounds very informative. Perhaps the olive oil tasting would be better first, with a bit of good bread, and later the wine.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Napa Valley is a good wine region and I like your pictures of the barrels. Occasionaly we drink some Californian wine. The last few years I have the feeling the influence of the oak becomes softer.

    Greetings,
    Filip

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh gosh, I think that olive oil tasting would have been amazing. It's the only oil I cook with. Dipping bread into seasoned olive oil is really yummy too, and better for you than using butter.
    The Napa Valley countryside is really beautiful there. I am not a wine drinker, but DH is. So I'd go along on the wine tour just for the scenery and let DH do the drinking.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love that area in CA. Have spent many vacaations there and always enjoyed it! Glad you got there to visit!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Greeat tour! I think we've been to that winery -- years ago. Probably about the same time you guys did the Australian wine club thing, we were visiting all that we could in California and Oregon...

    I saw on a cooking show recently the direction to use "good-tasting olive oil" and I wondered how you'd know really.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very interesting Diane.
    I certainly would give the "swigging" (oil) tasting a miss. Would remind me of castor oil!
    I have though dipped bread into flash oils that restaurants now serve up. I wonder why this is now in vogue?
    Rose wine! Oh no, never again! Memories of that stuff from the 1960's could re-emerge, and they are memories best forgotten - ha ha.
    The lunch in the cellar looks fantastic.
    Cheers
    Colin (HB)

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Nappa valley looks very similar to the region in Germany where I lived before being exported to Belgium ! Along the Rhine and Mosel. I hope you were still able to walk after tasting all this wine ! We did do that before too, hic !

    ReplyDelete
  16. I like those wine tasting trips, you only get a bit light in the head afterwards. The lunch area looks very nice.

    ReplyDelete
  17. One time I was in San Jose and we went on a wine tour. It's very interesting. So beautiful up there.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My eldest daughter, the one who just gave birth, was married in Calistoga and had her wedding reception in a wine cave. Your photo of your lunch brought that happy memory right back to me. It is a beautiful area, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I can't wait to revisit Napa and Sonoma Valleys again in the future. We enjoyed the wine tasting and tours at various wineries and the food in many restaurants was excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I loved the Napa Valley wines, they are very similar to Aussie wines just not as heavy.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've often thought I would enjoy visiting the Napa Valley, but I think I would be more interested in tasting the wine than tasting the olive oil. Your underground dinner looks interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  22. While we are surrounded by vineyards in this area and there are tasting rooms on almost every corner I still enjoy the wines of Napa Valley. You tour looks fascinating. I would have enjoyed the olive oil tasting but not just after lunch.

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a delightful area ... I'm sure I've seen a movie filmed in the Napa Valley but can't remember the name of it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great post, Diane! I have tried some Australian wines really liked them. I would prefer olive oil with some bread and maybe some seasonings but, not straight olive oil. Your photos are lovely. And the table setting shot is pretty. A great tour to share.

    ReplyDelete