Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grape Harvest in Napa Valley

Robert Mondavi started his winery at the ripe old age of 50.
I intend to follow in his footsteps, though.. tick.. tock.. tick.. tock.. I haven’t made much progress, as yet.

High altitudes are great for grape growing. Intense high mountain sunlight means more ultraviolet exposure, an ideal setting for delicious wines. Grapes mature nicely during the warm, sunny days, building sugars naturally. Cool nights improve acidity levels, vital to premium winemaking.

Premium being the key word here because in order to get Kate’s Great Grape Escape Winery and Boutique Hotel off the ground, I’ll need to charge at least $10,000 a bottle. It’s pretty spendy to start a winery!

Rather than waiting for me to announce my first batch of Pinot Noir, head to Napa.Napa, like glaciers and sadly polar bears, too, won’t be around much longer, thanks to strange climactic days messing with grape production.

In the meantime, enjoy delightful Napa Valley reds and whites during harvest time when crowds are smaller and there is still lots to do.

A few fun things I've discovered on my visits to Napa:

Book a cave tour with Del Dotto Vineyards. Grab your glass and wander these haunted caves, sampling delicious reds direct from the barrels. It is, hands down, the most enjoyable wine tasting you'll ever experience. (Nicknamed Del Blotto, for generous pours and chocolate, too!)

Reserve a room at the El Bonita Motel. This 50's style (affordable!) motel is right in the middle of Napa's popular winery road, Highway 29.

Visit Dr. Wilkinson's (affordable!) spa for a relaxing mud or mineral bath.

Have lunch at Augerge Du Soleil (not the least bit affordable!) This incredible restaurant is located high on a hill, in Rutherford, with breathtaking views of Napa Valley.

Pick up everything you need for a gourmet picnic at the historic Oakville Grocery along the winery road, Highway 29, in Oakville. (Ten times more fun than Dean & Deluca.)

Ever wonder why they plant roses at the end of the row of grape vines? For posterity, mostly. Back before growing grapes became a science project, vintners kept a watchful eye on the roses. They'd succumb to disease quicker than grapes, alerting the grower to pests and problems before it hurt the crop.

* The highest vineyard in the world is at 9892 feet in Mendoza, Argentina. Donald Hess's first vintage, Colomé 2002, was released in October, 2006, to rave reviews.

* This darling little frog is the mascot of Schramsberg Sparkling Wine Vineyard. The frog is the only great thing they have going for them. It's a stuffy, over-priced tour, hardly worth the time and effort.

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