Tuesday, our second and last full day in Napa, began the same as Monday with a stop at Bouchon Bakery for breakfast. Steve and I both ordered the same sandwiches as we had the day before, since the big breakfast and no lunch plan had worked so well. I also got another pain au chocolat "for the road." No pictures this time, though.
The main event of the day was another tour and tasting, this time at Kuleto Estate. We visited last year and enjoyed it so much that we joined the wine club. Usually, we would roll our eyes at the idea, because who really needs to be in a wine club? But it's been fun to get a couple bottles shipped to us every few months. We get to try different varieties, and they're all really good. They're also not available in stores or even that many restaurants. Plus, wine club members don't have to pay $35 per person for the tour and tasting.
So we went back for another tour and another taste of the wines. Kuleto Estate is easily the prettiest winery I've visited. This picture is from last year's trip:
Once everyone arrived, we took our glasses of Rosé and headed out. There were a few things we had already learned on our previous tour, but there was also some new information. For example, we learned that the stark tree trunks in the area outside the tasting room (pictured below) were from around Pat Kuleto's prior home, which burned down.
|amalfi coast & amalfi painting|
|prime picnic spot|
Continuing on, we made a quick stop at the large fountain and another at the little animal barn. Last year, I took a picture of a lamb. This year, it was bunnies. All of the animals are used as food, except for one turkey who earned a pardon.
Meanwhile, Pilot took a dip in the infinity pool next to the guest house. We heard some splashing, and then saw that he was dripping.
When we had circled back to the tasting room, we settled at the big table outside for the main part of our tasting.
|bottles & columns|
During the tasting, we were sitting closest to the tour guide. He told us all about his sommelier studies, which was really interesting. He had taken some courses and was only maybe two levels in, but it sounded like the testing for certification got exponentially more difficult for each of the four levels. The idea of making spreadsheets with tasting notes for every wine you drink or studying flashcards of them every night was a new one for me.
In the end, he gave us one more bonus taste, breaking out one of his favorite wines: the Cabernet Franc. Since Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, it was somewhat similar to the Cabernet Sauvignon we had had. However, it was more intense and more full-bodied. Usually I prefer the lighter reds, but then again, I have yet to try a Kuleto Wine that I haven't liked. We ended up ordering two bottles of the Cabernet Franc and six of the Muscato, opting to have them shipped to us, rather than carrying all that back with us in the car.
By the time were done with the tasting, we had consumed a fair amount of wine. (I always feel bad about throwing out the last of a taste when the wine is that good.) Steve was fine, since he had paced himself, but I was feeling like I had had enough alcohol for the day. We walked around a little more so I could take some pictures of things we saw at the beginning of the tour, and then we drove back down the hill/mountain and back to Yountville.
It seemed a shame to go back to the hotel so early, especially when there were still wineries on my list that we had skipped last year too. But more wine just wasn't appealing to me at that point. We had also learned the day before that going to a regular winery (Rombauer) after a really good one (Robert Sinskey) was just disappointing.
So to the hotel we went. I transferred pictures and ate my pain au chocolat snack, and then we dragged ourselves out into the heat again. We hadn't yet made it over to the garden across from the French Laundry on this trip, so we took a walk down the street.
Steve wanted iced coffee on the way, and since there was a line at Bouchon Bakery, we decided to try out the Yountville Coffee Caboose. It's situated at the end of a couple train cars, near the V Marketplace and across the street from Bouchon Bakery.
|at the coffee caboose|
The light at the French Laundry garden wasn't as nice as it was when we were there last time—at sunset—so I wasn't quite as inspired to take pictures this time. Still, I managed to get some shots I was happy with as we looked around. There were lots of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes at various levels of ripeness, as well as all the other usual crops.
|the promise of plants & asparagus berries|
When we were done looking at the plants, we walked back to the hotel to get ready for our last dinner of the trip, at Redd. And that will be the next post.