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Our three day visit to the Napa Valley was simply magical. We wound up our road trip on Halloween and kicked off the morning with a visit to the historic Chateau Montelena. After we saw the movie Bottle Shock we knew we needed to pay a visit to the Chateau. Signs of the movies are evident everywhere, and on the counter you’ll see displays of DVDs signed by Bo Barrett packaged with bottles of their Chardonnay, the wine that beat the French in Paris. The Chateau is spectacular, the grounds are breathtaking. Jade Lake boasts Chinese architecture and two picnic islands reserved for wine club members. Two types of tastings are available; the current release tasting for $20 or the library tasting for $40. We were provided the current release tasting and found the Chardonnay, Cabernet and Zinfandel to be noteworthy. After our tasting we strolled around Jade Lake, feeding the ducks and swans and soaking up a gorgeous fall day.

Envy Winery

Our next appointment was at Frank Family Vineyards, formerly Hans Kornell Cellars, but we had some free time and decided to make a quick stop at Envy. We had hoped to visit a winery we weren’t familiar with and Envy fit the bill. The owners of Envy have been making wines for many years, but the tasting room has been open for just a few years. It’s intimate, stylish and has clean lines. Our server was friendly and attentive and we were sorry we weren’t able to spend more time there as we enjoyed our experience (including the group in Halloween costumes at the tasting bar!) and the wines were excellent.

Frank Family was just down the road and we had an excellent experience there. We had been told to ask for tasting room manager Dennis Zablosky. He was busy when we arrived, so we were sent to the sparkling wine bar where we began our tasting. As famed sparkling wine producer Hans Kornell previously occupied the property, they have an advantage in the production of bubbly. Laura loves sparkling wines and we were both happy with what we tasted. We moved to another room and another tasting bar where we sampled a few still wines before being invited into Dennis’ office. Remember, this was Halloween and once again we encountered several folks in full costume in his office. Dennis is the perfect host. He held court at his desk as he poured us several of the Frank Family reserve wines and shared stories with us. He told us about receiving a customer’s last will and testament years ago and thinking it must have been a mistake. She told him to open the package and read section two. Her will stated that she be buried with a bottle of Frank Family Chardonnay, her favorite wine.

Dennis Zablosky (and friends)

Frank Family front porch

It was lunch time and we drove by a barbeque place that smelled so good we had to turn around. i can’t remember the name, but it was tasty. Here’s a peek.

Our last stop on our incredible journey was a Duckhorn Vineyards. Again, the weather was as close to perfect as I can imagine… sunshine and 70s with a gentle breeze and a touch of Autumn in the air. Somehow they were expecting a group of twelve, but it was just the two of us. Tom gave us a tour of the winery and then brought us into a private tasting room where he proceeded to knock our socks off.  Five bottles of wine had been decanted and we tasted elegant Cabernets and Merlots as well as some offerings from sister winery Paraduxx. Artisan cheeses accompanied the wines to perfection.

I can’t imagine a better trip, but trust me, I’m busy planning one. Thanks for coming along with us. I hope you enjoyed the journey.

Duckhorn Vineyards

Tom with Duckhorn decanters

Duckhorn Tasting

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