Tuesday, March 4, 2014

day 33: Napa Valley

We started the day by going to Mumm Napa, a winery that uses robots during the bottling process.  We took the free tour at 10:00 but sadly they weren't bottling at the time so we didn't get to see the robot in action.  We were both disappointed.  Mumm is the only winery in Napa that makes only sparkling wine.

Wine barrels at Mumm Napa

Lots of bottles of wine fermenting in those cages

After Mumm, we headed over to B.R. Cohn Winery, which is owned by Bruce Cohn, the manager of The Doobie Brothers.  The tasting room is lined with platinum albums and pictures of the band.  All the wine was delicious!  They also make olive oil, mustards and tapenades.  So tasty!  We really enjoyed trying all of the different things they make.

Then we drove over to Benziger Winery, which I've seen sold in grocery and liquor stores so I knew it would be a larger winery.  Even thought it was larger it was set up so quaint and cute.  It was really pretty walking through their grounds.  They offer a cheese tasting in addition to wine tastings so we added that on.  And good thing we did, that cheese was so tasty and it tasted even better paired with the wines!  Our server was a really nice guy who was very interested and jealous of our road trip.  We enjoyed chatting with him.

Then we went to Robert Mondavi, another large winery.  The grounds were immaculate, they were clearly inspired by Spanish architecture.  We took a tour and learned a lot about the history and wine making process.  Mondavi was one of the first wineries to open up to the public for tours.  They also had a cave like cellar which was neat to tour and cool seeing as it was over 100 degrees most of the day.  We really enjoyed Mondavi :)

 The grounds at Robert Mondavi

More views at Mondavi

The last tour/tasting on our list was Sterling Vineyards, yet another large winery and distributed across the nation.  This one was neat because an aerial tram takes you from the vineyards up to the winery on top of a steep hill.  The wine was good and it was a nice self-guided tour.  Beautiful grounds!  They had a lot of sheep on the grounds which we saw on the way down, very interesting.

 Riding the aerial tram at Sterling

Looking out over Sterling's grounds on the tram

View of Sterling from the winery

After Sterling we drove to Francis Ford Coppola Winery for dinner.  What a beautiful place!  Very large and very Italian.  The restaurant was cool and the food was great!  I had pasta with Italian sausage (made there), broccoli rabe and a creamy sauce, delicious!  John had "habit forming" spare ribs.  We wanted to buy the sauce they used for the ribs but it wasn't for sale (also made on site and very tasty).  I had to buy a bottle of wine before we left, so we decided on a Malbec.  The service here was excellent, we really enjoyed our experience.

Us at Francis Ford Coppola after dinner

The entrance to Francis Ford Coppola

We then began the drive to Bodega Bay, a little place on Highway 1.  We wanted to stay somewhere and drive most of Highway 1 (or Pacific Coast Highway) during the next day.  After driving for awhile and running into many full campsites we found one that had space on the beach.  Perfect!  We were exhausted.  So after setting up camp and taking some pictures of the stars we went to sleep.

Us driving along the PCH

the Pacific Coast

Beautiful view

Incredible view of the stars from our campsite on the beach

More stars :)

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