Saturday, June 28, 2008

California, USA: Napa Valley, California wine tasting experience

Napa Valley, California is a world-class wine-producing region or viticultural area of the U.S. It's a very popular attraction since people troop there for the winery tours which most definitely includes wine-tasting!

Obviously, I'm now in sunny California. I arrived in chilly San Francisco late last night on a flight that was three hours delayed! Napa Valley is about an hour from San Francisco and we made a late morning drive to Napa Valley, said to be the second most popular destination in California after Disneyland. We first stopped over in the city of Napa for lunch at the Historic Napa Mill at this restaurant called the Napa General Store. I had a crispy chicken sandwich that was served with chipotle mayo, lettuce & house-cut fries. I heard their Asian-inspired food is also worth trying, creations of their Vietnamese chef.

After lunch, we proceeded to St. Helena to visit some wineries. There are just so many of them so we dropped by two of the popular ones.

Our first stop was at the Beringer Vineyards which is the oldest continuously-operating winery in the valley. The entire winery site was in fact designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

I joined the Introducing Beringer Tour which costs US$15 and includes wine-tasting inside the original Stone Winery. We were given samples of their Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah, and Sparkling White Zinfandel.

We then motored to the Robert Mondavi Winery for more wine-tasting. Mondavi is said to be the father and founder of the American fine wine industry. He founded the winery in 1966 with the goal of surpassing the finest wines in Europe. Sadly, he passed away a month ago at the age of 94.

At the winery, they offer wine-tasting of three wines of your choice for US$15. I tried out their 2002 Vine Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006 Napa Valley Fume Blanc and 2006 Moscato d'Oro which I really liked.

It would have been fun to visit more wineries but we didn't have much time. So we called it a day. Thanks to my hosts, Armand and Iris, and their friend Mark, for taking me to Napa Valley today.

Part 2: San Francisco's cable car
Part 3: Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California
Part 4: Golden Gate Bridge, a San Francisco landmark
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