Napa Valley Wine District 2015

While the history of Napa is quite old into pre-history, I'm starting with the wine era, which was established commercially in 1861 by the Krug family. It's obvious by taking a walk through the wine section of a store that there are many many more wineries now (strangely a lot owned by the same companies). The area is definitely geared to tourism now too, with tasting rooms dotting the roads that are up to 55 mph in speed. Try pulling out onto one of those, around a blind corner after a few hours of tastings... (I know, I have done it. It's sphincter clenching tense).

The Arrival

I had flown into San Francisco airport and rented a car. I chose to stay in Sacramento. While it is an hour from the valley, they have quite a few full service hotels and decent rates. Hotels in the valley are bank-breaking expensive.

The Valley

I am focusing on the valley and the wineries. The town is ok, but it's really a town, not a wine town or tourist town, just a regular town.
Black Stallion is an up and coming winery right outside of Napa Beaulieu Vineyard has old school, acceptable wines, just not super top end Stag's Leap used to be my favorite winery, home of SLV which in 1973 beat the French in a double blind tasting.  They were so good, now after Pedroncelli bought them, not so much.  I still have a few thousand dollars of their wine in my cellar
Whitehall Lane always is a consistent quality buy, but at $50 a bottle, not a regular one Trinchero.  They vary in quality from year to year, taste before buying Pine Ridge is My new fave, so so good
Silverado, Quality brand, I belong to the club where I get shipments every quarter Actually owns most of the wineries around The theory is this is the best area because of all the volcanic ash
Significant visits: some wineries only take reservations. I have been here a few times and had never done that so it was time. I scheduled at Cade on Howell Mountain. WOW!
Cade is a very modern winery, but they really focus on the technical aspect of fermenting a quality wine.  I have several bottles and they are magnificent Tasting room was very intimate, and they limit the size to 4 groups of 2.  I was there with many well to do individuals from many areas of the world
Surprise discovery along the way - way way up the St. Helena Highway, Castillo de Amorosa. They do not sell wine to stores, you can only get it from them.
Unassuming entrance To a faithful recreation of an Italian castle
Imported every item in the room from Italy Cat skills unmatched by your author

Summary

A great way to find out if you enjoy wines without splunking down cash for bottles sight unseen. Tastings vary from free to $99 or more. But I find when you do the tasting, they tend to break out more special hidden bottles if you spend more time and ask them things about the wines.

Also many will comp the tasting if you join their wine club, which is a mixed bag. You can get wines that are very hard to find, but they are definitely near retail price. You can find most of them cheaper by shopping carefully. Taste there, buy later.

The valley is beautiful and Calistoga is a real old west town. There is so much to see. I have been 4, maybe 5 times and barely scratched just this valley.
So many vineyards, get up on a hillside for good shots, many wineries' tasting rooms are located on them