Most if not all of the wineries in the Napa and Sonoma area now charge for tasting and many require reservations. They say it is because of the huge influx of people visiting and tasting wines and then not buying any. They were giving away too much wine. So it now cost anywhere from 10 to 30 dollars to taste wines. So we decided to visit only one more vintner. Jo loves port wines and in the city of Petaluma we visited the Sonoma Valley Port Works. Since Josie had researched this winery on the net she had a list of what she wanted to taste. The owner was so impressed he waived the tasting fee and even let her taste a chocolate infused port that was not normally on the tasting menu. Jo purchased a few wines and even a bottle of almost wine vinegar that is both sweet and tangy.
Since we were now so close to the Pacific Ocean we drove over to Bodiga Bay and followed the coast line up to the Russian River. A beautiful drive both along the coast but also through the redwoods on our way back to Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley for dinner. Tom had suggested we visit the Sonoma valley restaurant "The Girl and the Fig" or its sister restaurant "The Fig Cafe and Wine Bar". We chose the latter because they would allow you to bring your own bottle of wine and they would open and serve it with no corkage fee. So we took in our bottle of Truchard Roussanne and had a fantastic dining experience. The seating was very much like a New York restaurant in that you were very close to the table next to you. We could not have had a more interesting and honestly delightful couple seated next to us, Jim and Bill. They were very proud of living in Sonoma Valley and called Napa Valley "Wine Disney". I believe they are the first married gay couple we have ever met.
Tom also suggested that we visit Mustard's, a Napa Valley restaurant owned by a very good chef, Cindy Pawlcyn. You can Google her. We decide instead to visit another of her restaurants Cindy's Back Street Kitchen since they had one of Jo,s favorite soft shell crabs on the menu. Once again we had a great meal. We then visited the Cakebread Winery that our friend Pat Joseph had suggested to us for another tasting experience. As you can see in the picture below the restroom was a very popular place after tasting wine. Glad I was not stopped and given a breathalyzer on the way back to the RV.
If you have never been to this area it is unbelievable how much land is devoted to growing grapes. Jo was able drive the cart as I played Chardonnay Golf Club. The whole course runs through vineyards and as you can see on some holes you have to carry the vines with your tee shot.
There are not too many campgrounds in Napa but we were lucky to get into Skyline Wilderness Park just on the east border of the city of Napa. The park lived up to its name as we saw a lot of deer and Wild Turkeys. There were signs all over to beware of Mountain Lions. I did hike the trails a few mornings and was rewarded with a grand view of Napa and the valley beyond.
We were delighted to have the newly engaged couple Laura Duval and Chance Hines visit us for dinner one evening here in Napa. I met Laura when she was the intern at the bird banding station at First Landing State Park, in Virginia Beach. She and Chance are bird gypsies who move from place to place doing bird related research for various organizations. They are presently here in California and we could not pass up the opportunity to visit with them. Josie served a great dinner and we had a good time.
On our last day in Napa we drove to Fairfield CA and revisited the Jelly Belly Candy Factory. We had visited it in 2007 but went this time to try their wine and chocolate tasting experience. Five wines paired with five types of chocolate. What's not to like?
As you can see we had a very busy week. Our next stop will be in the California Redwood country.