Last Friday, The Appellation Trail was finally here! We drove up to Napa and checked into the Westin. After relaxing, changing, and mentally preparing for the evening, we made our way downstairs to take advantage of the free local wine tasting and appetizers during the hosted happy hour. The wine wasn't to my liking and I really wanted to save room for the food pairings at The Appellation Trail so we ended up just relaxing until our driver arrived. As soon as we met Janette, we jumped into the backseat of our car and were off to the Culinary Institute for the event. Once we were dropped off, we entered a bright white tent and the madness began! Beringer, Stags' Leap, and Etude, were some of the first wineries that we laid our eyes on while scoping out the first hall of the event. As soon as I tasted my first sip of the 2008 Etude Heirloom Pinot Noir, I looked up and saw Richard Blais (Top Chef All Stars Winner). Immediately, I found myself standing next to him asking for a picture. Afterwards, I tried his small plate offering of lamb and polenta...it was delicious. I quickly realized just how lucky I felt to be there and was ready to continue along the appellation trail, taking it all in with every step.
Once we saw how many wineries were there in person, Alex and I decided to try one wine at each winery that we had not tasted at before, and split our tastings. We would check out different booths and meet in between them to swap glasses. We often shared the small plates as well, with a few exceptions...some of the standouts were: The Restaurant at Meadowood and Ad Hoc, but truly - they were all delicious! The wines were outstanding as well, we fell in love with Chiarello Family Vineyards Eileen Cabernet Sauvignon and loved tasting wines such as Joseph Phelps Insignia, Spotted Owl, Dutch Henry, and other wines that we would rarely or never have the opportunity to taste. The event was a really fun and special time, after a few rooms, and many tastings, it was difficult to differentiate between the wines, but we kept going anyways! Along the way, we ran into the innkeepers from our favorite bed and breakfast in Napa...we will reserve raving about their inn, because blogging about it the next time we are there is a great excuse to go back soon :)
This event was like going to Disneyland for wine lovers and foodies alike. We both felt that is was worth every penny and have already marked it as an event to return to next year. A little past two hours of wining and dining, we were stuffed and ready to head back to our hotel. We texted our driver, and we were back in our car and off to the hotel within 10 minutes! She gave us great recommendations for a few wineries to check out, took us back to our hotel, and we were happy to fork over the $35/hr for a quick, safe ride!
After downing a liter of water, to hydrate for our tours and tastings scheduled for Saturday, we both were fast asleep as soon as our heads hit the bed!
- Buy your tickets as far in advance as possible, they sell out!
- If you want to book your stay using Starwood, Marriott, any type of points, try to book immediately for the best chances of availability.
- If you do not have a designated driver, look into your transportation options quickly. This is Napa and cabs won't be as easy to come by.
- Hydrate and share tastings! You probably still will not remember the majority of the wines, but this way you won't need to be carried to the car!
- Have Fun! This is not the type of event to take serious tasting notes, but there will be some very seriously delicious wines and dishes...enjoy it!