Wednesday, September 10th
4:44 AM - Sweet Sassy Molassey. 4:44 AM. This is going to be a LONNNNNNNG day. I'm up an hour and a half before the freaking fitness centre opens for goodness sake!! What kind of a moron gets up at 4:44 AM on vacation?
After laying in bed doing nothing, so as to not wake the wife and incur the wrath of the "You-Woke-Me-Up-Too-Early-You-Idiot" monster, I get up to gather my workout clothes to go hit the gym that is conveniently located about 25 feet across the hall from our room.
6:04 AM - Despite the posted hours saying "6AM", I am unable to get into the fitness centre. As I head up to the front desk to see why, I pass a woman coming out of her room, heading towards the fitness centre....by the time I get the front desk guy to help me, this lady is already in the fitness centre. She tells me the exact same thing happened to her yesterday; she couldn't get in at 6, went to the front desk, and by the time they had gone back, another guest had got in. Apparently "6 AM" is just a guess on what time the door actually opens.
7:00 AM - Back to the room where I continue to avoid waking the beast...I am mostly successful, and am able to hop back into bed for a little while until it's time to get up.
8:00 AM - Up and down to the lobby for our free breakfast. It's very similar to what we had at La Quinta yesterday; decent food, decent selection....all pretty good for free (well, nothing's free, but included in our room rate anyway).
Back to the room where The Process gets underway before we begin our very busy day.
10:30 AM - We arrive at Opus One for our semi-private tour (5 people total) and tasting. Opus One only makes one wine, a Bordeaux blend, so our tasting is only going to be their current vintage, plus one library vintage. Opus One wine is expensive; $235/bottle here (current vintage), and we can get it back home for $400. During the tour, it becomes pretty easy to see why. The detail they go into is insane. For example, these barrels cost $1800 each, and are only used ONCE. That's right, ONCE.
And they are all different; purchased from many different European coopers. They are able to sell the used barrels for $250...so you can see they spend quite a pretty penny on just the barrels. I guess they have a right to charge $235/bottle.
The tour was amazing, the wine sublime (the second vintage was from 2007). It was a great experience and an incredible way to start our Napa experience.
12:30 PM - We have an hour or so until our next booking, so we go driving around to find a winery that will let us taste without an appointment...not as easy as you might think. We find one called Miner Family Vineyards. Great find! We get to taste everything they have available, 11 different wines, including their flagship Bordeaux blend called The Oracle (which sells for $90). It was nice, but it was probably unfair to taste it an hour after Opus One. Anyway, we walked out of there with a lovely Syrah and a Merlot from 1998! Yes, 1998! For only $55! What a steal! They actually had Merlot from 1997 too but the girl helping us said she had recently tasted them and the 98 was better so we choose that one.
2:00 PM - We arrive at Silver Oak for our Food & Wine Pairing lunch. We get four small plates of delicious food with four wines; two from Twomey Vineyards, their sister winery, and two Cabernet Sauvignons from Silver Oak (one from Alexander Valley, one from Napa). ALL the wines are amazing and they all improve with the food that was picked out specifically for that particular wine. What a difference proper pairings make!!
We leave with three well aged bottles, all at a pretty reasonable price, as well as a shirt and a leather wine 2-bottle carrying case. We are blowing our wine budget all to Hell already :-)
4:00 PM - Our next private tasting at Turnbull Cellars. This is not one I had heard of but was recommended to me, and they recently had a Cabernet Sauvignon get a perfect 100-pt score from renowned wine critic Robert Parker, so we figured we better check them out. Another fabulous experience, as our personal guide took us on a tour of the winery and we tasted five excellent wines, including the "best Cabernet Franc ever" according to Tracey. We didn't get to taste the 100-pt wine, but we bought one anyway, along with the Cab Franc. Getting these wines across the border may be a bit of a challenge :-)
That's it for wine tasting today (thank God), so we head back to the hotel and walk across the street to an Italian restaurant for a nice dinner...the first actual sit-down dinner of the entire trip to this point.
6:30 PM - Back in the room and I am asleep. I kid you not. I was asleep at 6:30 PM.
10:30 PM - Damn, that was too good to be true. Now I'm awake, and tired and grouchy. I stay this way until the wee small hours when I'm finally able to get back to sleep. Gotta get some rest, we have another huge day of wine tasting tomorrow!