Stomp the grapes!

Four trips to California’s wine country this year!

This year I made my first trip to Napa in harvest season and I loved it! The vines are green, spotted with purple… the aroma of ripe grapes hang in the air… you constantly get the feeling that something magical is in the works here! The main attraction of this visit was grape stomping. Grgich Hill Estate popularizes the ‘I love Lucy’ episode of stomping grapes by offering visitors an opportunity to stomp grapes for a $10 fee. Don’t worry, they don’t make wine out of what you crush with your feet :) They throw it away. You can stomp as much as you like. There is just one trough and new bunches of grapes are put for each new participant. It was nice to feel the cool crushed grapes and juice between your toes. Once done, you can wash off your feet and get a ‘I stopmped at Grgich’ pin.

I returned to Castello di Amorosa on my two recent trips and tasted the wine here. I like sweet wines and apart from the dessert wines they had a nice Rose wine (Gioia) and a sweet white wine. Wine tasting here is complementary with the entrance fee of $16 which will also let you access certain parts of the Tuscan castle. For $32 you can buy a premium tour of the castle which will let you access more parts and also includes a wine tasting. Reservations are recommended for this tour as we tried tried a walk-in unsuccessfully. There was a long wait for the next available tour. Look out for 50% off coupons online for both these tours valid for the off-season winter months. The castle is certainly interesting worth a visit and I think I will be making this a Napa destination with people visiting us in the Bay Area. The guests I have taken there thus far, loved it.

I also returned to the Old Faithful Geyser this year. The last time I visited was more than 3 years ago. It had enthralled me then. But now it has become an overpriced joke of a geyser! The geyser shoots off more frequently (every 10-15 minutes) than it used to (every 30-40 minutes) and the spout is not as tall as it used to be. I missed the rumbling of the earth before the spout and the strong confident column of hot water that rose to about 60ft in the air, on my previous visit here.

I love to pack a picnic lunch to Napa. The best picnic tables I have tried are at Rutherford Hill winery. Some of the tables have a great view of the valley. On my last visit to Napa, I visited Clos Pegase winery. They have a few metallic tables under some olive trees and beside their grape vines. Clos Pegase has a cave system for wine aging and offers a free wine making tour 3 times a day. Clos Pegase displays many modern art works like a replica of ‘Le Pouce’  (The Thumb) by French sculptor Cesar.

Without a doubt, my favorite time in Napa would be Spring for the sea of mustard flowers and Harvest for sights and smell of ripe grapes!

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