Thursday, May 25, 2017

2017 CROSS-COUNTRY ROAD TRIP - 5-2-17 - NAPA VALLEY

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017



Gregg's sister drove us to Napa Valley today, where she treated us to a wine tasting and tour at Palmaz Vineyards.  She only lives a couple of hours away and has been there several times, with her husband when he is not working, occasionally on her own and also with family and friends.  Her favorite is Palmaz Vineyards, and I can see why.  It was a fascinating experience.  We were given a tour by a charming young man.  The winery is 18 floors underground and the building is built into the mountain. (Its owner, Julio Palmaz, is a doctor who invented the stint. He had a heart attack when he was 71 and it saved his life.   You can read his biography here.)



The tour came first and it was amazing.  The central feature of the winery was based on the old Roman concept that the best way to crush grapes was to use the force of gravity.  



We took the elevator to different floors, and were shown the fermentation room where 24 large vats were placed around a circular room.  He showed us a map of the property highlighting the 24 unique soil types present, and the 24 unique grapes growing on each of the soil types.  These end up in those 24 vats. On the concave ceiling above us there were projected statistics and visual data of each vat, state of the art that looked like something out of a science fiction movie.  


We walked through long tunnels full of wine barrels. The wood for the barrels comes from France and are assembled in California.  By doing it that way they could ship more wood at a more economical price. Along one of the tunnels was a bottling room where we were introduced to several of the staff.  The machinery used for the bottling process was surprisingly small.   However, giving the limited distribution of the wine, there was no need for anything larger.  Unfortunately, you won't find this wine in any store, and the distribution to restaurants is limited to just a few states.  The primary customer base for the wine are those people who join their wine club like my sister-in-law. 


  
The wine tasting came next where we we were taken to a room and treated to a selection of six delicious wines.  I couldn't remember each one so went to their website and found what you see below, though they do vary at times.  

Palmaz Vineyards Riesling "Louise"
Palmaz Vineyaards Chardonnay "Amalia"
Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Current Vintage
Palmaz Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Select Library Release
Palmaz Vineyards Muscat Canelli "Florencia"



As we drank from each glass of wine we were told its history. Before we moved on to the next glass, we ate an hors d'oevre, also explained to us.  Placed behind our selection of wines was the hors d'oevre plate, and each delectable delight was a tiny work of art.  (On the wall is a projected photo of the Palmaz Family.)



Here are a few photos taken in the wine tasting room.













One interesting fact we learned was that many of the winemakers in Napa Valley are female, including the lady we met at Palmaz as we toured the tunnels.  He explained that the palate of a woman is more refined in general.  Well, there you go!

I was very impressed with our host.  He was excellent throughout this experience, very warm, friendly and polite.  At the end of our tour, as Gregg and my sister-in-law were talking to him, I excused myself to take some photos, and I thanked him very much.  I expected that to be the last of it but then as I had taken several photos, I turned around and realized he was waiting for me so that he could say a last goodbye.  He shook my hand warmly and said that he had hoped I had enjoyed myself.  I assured him I had, beyond measure.  



If you go to this page on YouTube you will be able to view several short videos on the vineyard.  I chose two, which can be found here and here.


I noticed that at the end of each line of vines, rose bushes are planted.  Not only do they look extremely pretty but they are put there for a reason.  If a sickness attacks the vines, the roses become infected first.  If the roses become unhealthy, then they know whatever is affecting them will attack the vines next.  This gives them time to doctor the vines before they too are infected.  



There are also falcons used to protect the vines, a scarecrow of sorts.  They are used as a deterrent to keep away the large flocks of birds, (such as the starlings mentioned in this article) who love to feed on the grapes as they ripen.  You can read about them here.



I was quite sorry to see the end of the tour as it was memorable.



We finished our trip to Napa Valley with a lovely meal at a restaurant called Bouchon Bistro.   



It was another very enjoyable experience.  We ate a delicious meal at one of the outside tables.  In the top left is Gregg's chicken dish, top right I had ordered rainbow trout, and the bottom two photos shows my sister-in-law's escargot encased in puff pastry and a small cheese platter.



In the photo below the waiter can just be seen on the left, clearing off our table which was next to the wall and out of sight.



When finished Gregg and I were sitting on a bench nearby and an Englishman started talking to us.  He was employed at the restaurant, one of the managers.  We had a very pleasant conversation and he told us he was from London-by-the-Sea (Brighton and Hove).

It is 6.27 p.m. and after a long but exceedingly enjoyable day Gregg is tired, I am tired. I think we will be going to bed early tonight.  

We are off to Monterey again tomorrow with my sister-in-law.  We are going to the Aquarium.  

46 comments:

  1. Another great post.. I am sorry that we did not wine tours while in the USA but we were not really in the right places. It would have been interesting having done tours here, RSA and Ozz.
    Love the photos, and wish I could follow the videos, but as always our WIFI speed does not cope with them.
    Thanks for taking us along, enjoyed the tour. Diane

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    1. Thank you Diane and you are very welcome. So sorry you can't see the wine tours but know how difficult it can be, nigh on impossible, to download when there is little wifi speed. There must be some spectacular vineyards in France.

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  2. Napa to Monterrey! Quite a drive! Thanks for showing us around

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    1. Thanks Cloudia, and you are very welcome :)

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  3. Hello Denise, I really enjoyed this post on your tour of the winery. It is interesting to learn about the roses planted at the end of the row. My sister joined several wine clubs from the Napa wineries and from Washington state. Your lunch looks delicious. Great photos. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

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    1. That makes me happy Eileen, thank you. Interesting about your sister. If I lived closer I might have joined too. Thank you and have a great weekend :)

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  4. Here, I have been!

    When our son-in-law, was purchasing expensive wines, for a FL millionaire, we went to Napa Valley with him and our daughter.

    Since he was a buyer, we went to many vineyards. And we were given special wines, to taste. They wanted to sell, expensive wines, of course!

    I loved the place we stayed in. There was Champagne with breakfast, every morning! :-))))

    Luna Crone

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    1. Sounds like a great trip. Champagne for breakfast? Nice!

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  5. What a magnificent place, Denise! Wine, cheese....gorgeous views. I will look at the videos now. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Thank you Linda and you are so very welcome :)

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  6. Your photos are just awesome and have been all through your trip period so much Beauty out there and you saw so much of it and captured it with your camera. How was in the Napa Valley only once and it was beautiful but we were driving a truck and we did a pick up there and then left so did not see any sightseeing

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    1. Thank you Sandra. One thing I can say with great certainty, each state I have seen has its own particular beauty. I often hear of people visiting places when on business and saying the same thing. Gregg went to some great cities when he was working, and never was able to look around the area too much. One of the reasons he enjoyed this trip as there were places he had been to while on business, but was able to look at them with a set of new eyes this time.

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  7. This sounds like such a fascinating place...it would definitely be fun to visit it.

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  8. I found this SO interesting,informative, and beautiful. Honestly, all of your trip posts would make a wonderful book, I bet it would be very popular! You are such a good writer, and explain things easily and so I can understand. Simple, yet informative. So is the doctor still alive? I could not tell on the link. I love your shot of the big door, it looks like copper! And so interesting about the roses and the falcon! Going so far underground would be scary for me, yet it all looks light and roomy. I love the pictures of the both of you outside in the vineyard.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comments Ginny. I thought of making a book just for us. Maybe I will put it together this time :) Yes the doctor is still enjoying life. I loved the door also and I agree. Apparently it is a common practice for other wineries to add those roses. We only went two or three floors underground. Enjoy the rest of your week. Sorry I am late in replying to this. I am a little behind in catching up.

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  9. I have family who lived in the Napa Valley, so am particularly grateful for this post. Thank you.
    Roses at the end of a row of vines is a French tradition (started by Madame Cliquot I believe) which has taken off all over the world.

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    1. That's very interesting EC, especially learning of the French tradition started by Madame Cliquot. Thank you for that info and I am glad you enjoyed the post

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  10. The winery sounds like an ideal place to visit.

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  11. what a wonderful memory! Thanks for sharing! Are you coming down to SO CA?

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    1. Hi Silver Willow, we are back home now but I am still writing about our travels. We didn't go down to SO CA this time.

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  12. Oh nice...Napa Valley! That would be such a cool place to visit. I have been to the vineyards in Southern Calif - Temecula Calif. My son got married there. Beautiful pics.

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    1. Hi Pam, thank you, it was lovely. That sounds like a great place to get married, must have been very special.

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  13. Interesting post, Denise. I'm just trying to imagine how it felt being 18 floors below surface.

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    1. Hi Valerie, we didn't actually go down 18 floors, only two or three.

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  14. I have not been to any vineyards before. Looking at your beautiful photos and videos, its like I am also touring with you. The part about the rose plant at the end of each line of vines is very interesting. A great place to visit. I enjoyed your post.

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    1. Thank you Nancy :) It seems to be a regular practice. We passed many vineyards who did the same.

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  15. That was a fascinating tour of the vineyard. I think you will bring back memories to me in your next post. I, too, visited the aquarium in Monterey, many years ago.

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    1. Thanks Linda, I enjoyed it immensely. Just put up the aquarium post. How lovely you were there before.

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  16. I don't drink wine anymore, but my sister does. Thanks for this tour, and the food looks fabulous.

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    1. Thank you Gigi and you are very welcome.

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  17. Oh how marvelous! I would love to visit this winery! It looks fascinating...from being cut into a mountain to using the falcons to protect the grapes! What an amazing experience! Beautiful photos. I bet the wines were wonderful...and the food from the bistro also.

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    1. Thank you Marie. It is the first winery I have ever visited. We have wineries in Virginia and I have friends who go, but have never done it myself.

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  18. BTW our daughter was trained as a pastry chef (ojt) by a man who had been the pastry chef at Bouchon NY. She and our son-in-law ate their "after wedding" meal at Bouchon Las Vegas. It's very well known and the food is supposed to be amazing!

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    1. How wonderful, really fascinating. I had never heard of it before until we went to this one and yes the food was excellent. A lovely place to have an after wedding meal.

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  19. Well what an interesting place to visit and the views are tremendous. Looked a lot of wine you tasted!!! The food looks fabulous also. Have a lovely weekend

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    1. Thank you Margaret, so happy you enjoyed my tour of the winery. You have a lovely weekend too :)

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  20. Ladies are more refined anyway Denise.
    Hope you didn't drink too much. (Hiccup)

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    1. How nice of you to say so Roy, you are a true gentleman. Did the wine go to my head? Well, let's just say I felt a bit giggly, lol!

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  21. HI Denise, what a wonderful place to visit, and you with your ladies more refined palate. 18 floors of wine being stored and matured, wow. Sorry to have been absent. All the best John

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    1. Thanks John and the refined palate news told to us gave me a smile. Always good to see you but don't worry about being absent. Hard to keep up especially when one is feeling under the weather. All the best to you too and good health, Denise :)

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  22. Your visit is what I dream a Napa valley experience should be. We spent an afternoon there on our honeymoon years ago and would love to return.

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    1. I can highly recommend this place, that's for sure. We drove through Napa Valley years ago but didn't touch one winery. We were grateful to Gregg's sister for the tour.

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  23. I can't get over all you and Gregg experienced. That food looks so spectacular. I sure would love to try that wine tasting some day.

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    1. Thanks Kay, I felt like sleeping for a week when we got back home.

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