Friday, February 15, 2008

napa trip report, part two

After St. Clement, we drove all the way to the north end of the valley and had lunch in Calistoga. Calistoga, at night at least, is a bit of a party town. We stopped at The Calistoga Inn and Brewery for lunch. We sat in the bar and watched the Washington-Stanford basketball game while we ate.

The food exceeded my expectations. I had the brunch special which was scrambled eggs with artichoke hearts, peppers, a crab cake and some toast. Crab cakes are sort of like Meatloaf in that they can be used as a gauge by which to judge a restaurant. This was a good crab cake. The rest of the family ordered various things that all looked pretty good as well, mostly in the sandwhich department. Because we had already hit to wineries (and it was just about Noon now), I had coffee instead of beer. Sara had a beer (a wheat of some sort) and she liked it quite a bit.

After lunch, on the advice of the nice woman at St. Clement, we went to Dutch Henry. Neither Sara's dad nor I had heard of this place, so it was with a bit of hesitation we approached the winery. It certainly was not the most grandiose structure in Napa but this is the sort of winery one hopes to find on such expidetions. The tasting was held in the cold amongst the barrels of wine. The guys doing the tasting were also the guys involved in the actual wine making. For $10 we got to taste a range of seven or eight wines (some on the list, a zinfandel they opened even though it wasn't on the list). It was completely unpretentious and every wine was a strong example of it's varietal. One stand out was the Pinot Noir, since neither of us generally like Pinot's but this one was quite enjoyable and drinkable. Sara's dad is always trying to find something to drink with Salmon he catches. The other varietals, the cab, the zin and the blends were all very strong. You can only get them from the winery, but joining their club just might be worth it.

Dutch Henry was the last place we stopped in Napa. We drove back down to the bottom of the valley, cut over to Sonoma, drove through downtown Sonoma but it was raining too hard to really get out and do anything. After a quick jaunt around Sonoma, we headed back south, across the Golden Gate bridge, through the traffic in San Francisco and through the high-winds on 280 to finally arrive back home in Palo Alto.

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