Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vacation log, part two

Figuring out what to do in a new place is always a bit daunting to me; I don't like the idea of appearing to be just another dumb tourist (even if that's what I am!), so I try to do a bit of research and decide on courses of action for each day, leaving enough "wiggle room" to allow for improvisation as well. It's actually a lot more organic than it sounds, honest. In any case, I wrote out all the wineries/restaurants I thought might be fun to see or eat at, along with some where I knew I'd want to buy some wine.
First up was the Hess vineyard, somewhat pretentiously named "The Hess Collection", imho. The guidebooks I read made mention that the art gallery on the premises is one of the most interesting in the area, so TBO and I took a little walk around and were impressed by many of the pieces, all of which were fairly modern. The wines themselves were fine as well, as was the drive out to the vineyard, so this was a fortuitous start to our trip.
From there we took a short drive to Domaine Chandon, the premier sparkling winemaker in Napa. We paid for the "Ambassador" tour, which included a "personal wine tasting" with the tour guide. The tour itself was pretty nifty, especially given that it started out with a fairly cheesy video, scored with what TBO called "porn music". (We've noticed that many of the shows on The Food Channel use similarly lame aural pseudo-jazz wallpaper, so listen for it the next time you tune in. Yikes!) Things perked right up after that, though. The tour guide told our group that unfortunately, she now had to give a short spiel forbidding people from sticking their heads into the giant steel vats, since the previous week a couple of idiots had done just that. (One man decided that having a picture taken of him [complete with cigar in mouth] would be fun, and a woman later on apparently stuck her head in the vat just to scream and hear the echo!) I responded by saying, "Well, that's it, then. We're out of here." A good laugh was had by all.
The personal tasting was fun; we got to try a whole bunch of the different varietals of sparklers Chandon makes while chatting amiably with the guide, instead of having to crowd around the bar with all the others. TBO and I were sucked in to signing up for their club by this amiability, though, so watch out for the subtle salespitching! (No worries, though, because "we can cancel at any time". Just like Columbia House, as TBO pointed out. Yay! I'm weak willed! Oh well, at least the wines are good and will make for nice presents. ; ))
We had yet to eat, so by the time we left Chandon at 3, we decided to make our late lunch our big meal of the day. We went to Bistro Don Giovanni, a nifty Italian place fairly nearby. I had rabbit!
Day 1 was a success; we hadn't made complete fools of ourselves, and had only signed up for one wine club. Of course, we only went to 2 places, so maybe that wasn't such a good average, huh?


Blogger Slangred said...

Silly boy. Yes, we joined our first wine club. Y'all know what that means--"champagne" all 'round! (Cheers, wombats!) I'd like to point out, since bryduck neglected to, that the rabbit stew was followed up by the most amazing trifle I've ever lain eyes or tastebuds on. Layers of dark chocolate goo, clear brown caramel with toasted almonds, vanilla custard and whipped cream sweetened just so. All in a deep champagne flute, natch. Yummo!

9:59 AM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

ooh sparklies! I hearby invite myself over for sparklies.

2:59 PM  
Blogger scout said...

I could prolly suck down a glass or two, especially if served with trifle—sign me up!

It's not at all like Bryduck to not mention the dessert. What's up with that?

6:03 PM  

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